Steve Jobs Is Up To Something. Probably Big.

The Passion of Steve Jobs

Today he had a wide range of observations on the industry, including the Amazon Kindle book reader, which he said would go nowhere largely because Americans have stopped reading.

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Emphasis added by me.

Let’s review:

[C]omments from Apple chief executive Steve Jobs that flash-based digital music players are often received as gifts, rarely used, and “end up in a drawer[.]”

Here’s Jobs dissing flash players in his own words at MacWorld 2004:

January 2005: Jobs introduces the iPod Shuffle.


Transcript Of Apple’s iTunes Conference Call (2004)

Mike Wendland: Happy anniversary. The iPod has just changed everything. The question now is what’s next for us? So how about full color video, color screen? Do you ever see it morphing into anything like an iPhone all purpose device?

Steve Jobs: You know, our next big step is we want it to make toast. I want to brown my bagels when I’m listening to my music. And we’re toying, you know, we’re toying with refrigeration, too.

Mike Wendland: Not bad. Where is it going? What are you doing? Is it going to stay strictly music or will there be other features that you do?

Steve Jobs: You know, one of the things that I say around Apple, I paraphrase Bill Clinton when he was running long ago when he said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” I say, “It’s the music, stupid.” We have to stay focused on the fact that people are buying these devices to listen to music. People love music. They love listening to music as a background activity when they’re doing..when they’re exercising, when they are commuting and when they are just hanging out, and music is a wonderful thing because: A, it’s music; and B, because it can be listened to as a background activity. And a lot of these other things that people are talking about building in such as video and things like that are foreground activities. You can’t drive a car when you’re watching a movie. You know? It’s really hard doing that.

So, we really are very focused on music because that’s what we think, that’s where we think the revolution is here.

Emphasis added by me.

January 2008: Apple has been advertising the Flash-based iPod Nano with the tagline “A little video for everyone” and introduces movie rentals to the iTunes Store.


If only 40% of people read, that’s still a huge market, just here in the U.S.. Besides that, readers are smarter than the 60% who never read at least one book a year. Smarter people often earn more money. And they can see the value in ebooks.

And guess what else? Reading is international. Think economies of scale. Think larger markets of readers in each country. Think making a real ding in the universe.

I think Steve Jobs has ebooks up his sleeve. But knowing him, it’ll be done in a way that will surprise all of us.


5 Things Steve Jobs Has Misled Us About In The Last 30 Years

Mobile Device of the Year, 2007 — Michael Mace has an intriguing post about the iPod Nano, making me wonder if I should give up lusting for the Sansa Clip. (Nano owners, your cue for Comments!)

Explore posts in the same categories: eBooks, Tech - Apple

6 Comments on “Steve Jobs Is Up To Something. Probably Big.”

  1. […] the meantime, as we wait for the next big announcement, you all should take a look at the evidence Mike has gathered and see if you agree that “Steve Jobs is up to something. Probably […]

  2. Ahmed Says:

    Steve said:

    “40% of people read 1 book OR LESS”

    That means 60% read MORE THAN 1 BOOK!

    Your spot on – iTunes will be doing eBooks.

  3. mikecane Says:

    >>>That means 60% read MORE THAN 1 BOOK!

    Oh dear God. I am entirely WORTHLESS when it comes to math.

    Thanks for the correction!

  4. Little correction:
    “If only 40% of people read, that’s still a huge market, just here in the U.S.. Besides that, readers are smarter than the 60% who never read at least one book a year.”

    If you look at the quote of Jobs at the top, “40% of the people read one book or less a year”, that means that even 60% read more than one book and not 40%. So that would support your thesis even more!

    I also think, that there is enough demand for e-books. If Amazon Kindle is going to flop, it’s because of the bad handling, the odd design or the proprietary reading of blogs.

    I had the idea of making E-Books available in the ITunes store in my blog:,-2009-Books-available-in-the-Itunes-store.html
    But with all the possibilities of the IPhone and direct connection to the internet, there is not so much need of E-Books I guess.

  5. Bill Sodeman Says:

    Good article! If Apple does roll out a tablet, you know that Amazon and will be ready with e-book apps for their own stores.

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