New Steve Jobs email a treasure trove of information about Apple TV, Google ‘holy war,’ and behind-the-scenes strategy

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A new email from Steve Jobs that was published during today’s Samsung lawsuit (via The Verge) has revealed a lot about Apple’s plans for its products in 2011 and beyond. As we’ve previously noted, Jobs referred to 2011 as a year of “holy war” against Google, but this document goes above that and describes how exactly Apple planned to wage this war.

A few choice bits are below, followed by the complete email.

The company was already planning the iPhone 4S (referred to as the “‘plus’ iPhone 4”) as well as the redesigned iPhone 5 at the time, and apparently had models of the iPhone 5 case ready to display. The email also indicates that Apple was already working on an LTE model for launch in 2012—a goal they hit with the iPhone 5.

The email also indicates a need for a low-cost iPhone based on the iPod touch to replace the 3GS as the low-end model. Eventually it seems this plan was scrapped, as the 3GS managed to stick around for quite a while.

 2011 Strategy:
– “plus” iPhone 4 with better antenna, processor, camera & software to stay ahead of competitors until mid 2012
– have LTE version in mid-2012
– create low cost iPhone model based on iPod touch to replace 3GS
– Business & competitive update
– show Droid and RIM ads
– Verizon iPhone
– schedule, marketing, …
– iPhone 5 hardware
– H4 performance
– new antenna design, etc
– new camera
– schedule
– cost goal
– show model (and/or renderings) – Jony

Perhaps even more interesting is the iOS strategy section, in which Jobs points out areas that Android has surpassed iOS and how the company plans to catch up (or, in the case of Siri, “leapfrog them”). Also interesting: Apple apparently settled on the name “Siri” for its virtual assistant before it named the iPhone 4S—notice how Jobs referred to the device as a “‘plus’ iPhone 4” above.

There are also references to iDisk and MobileMe throughout. This is especially interesting because these services were ended in favor of iCloud in 2011. (“Durango” and “Telluride” below are codenames for iOS builds.)

– Strategy: catch up to Android where we are behind (notifications, tethering, speech, …) and leapfrog them (Siri, …)
– Timeline of iOS releases from first until Telluride, including Verizon
– Jasper tent poles
– Durango tent poles (without MobileMe)
– Telluride tent poles (with “catch up” and “leapfrog” notations on each one)

Speaking of MobileMe, there’s an entire section of the email dedicated to that service and its future. In that section, Jobs refers to Google as being “way ahead” in terms of cloud contacts, email, and calendars. Jobs sought to rectify that disparity and add new MobileMe features to help “make [the] Apple ecosystem even more sticky” so that customers would have a harder time leaving.

– tie all of our products together
– make Apple ecosystem even more sticky
– Free MobileMe for iPhone 4, iPad and new iPod touch
– Jasper
– Sign up with Apple ID, Find My iPhone
– Durango
– Find My Friends, Calendar, Contacts, Bookmarks, Photo Stream
– April
– iWork cloud storage
– Telluride
– cloud storage for third party apps
– iOS backup
– new iDisk for Mac

As you can above, Apple’s plans for what we now know as iCloud were originally slated for release as an updated version of MobileMe. There were plans to add third-party cloud storage, iOS backup support, Photo Stream, Find My Friends, and all of the other iCloud features we’ve gotten used to since the service launched. Like iCloud, the revamped MobileMe was also going to be available for free to all new customers.

The eighth point of the email deals with the future of the Apple TV. Jobs points out that new content from sources such as NBC and HBO are needed, and suggests that TV subscriptions could be the future. Overall, however, Apple just wants to keep itself in the living room market.

You can read the entire email below:

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  1. Stetson - 9 years ago

    “Also interesting: Apple apparently settled on the name “Siri” for its virtual assistant before it named the iPhone 4S”

    Siri was already the name of the app/company they bought to help create the iOS assistant, so referring to it as Siri isn’t really anything noteworthy.

  2. macmaniman - 9 years ago

    the whole “sticky” and “so we further lock customers into our ecosystem” really made me laugh

  3. Stetson - 9 years ago

    Looks like H4/H4T were codenames for the A5/A5X chips.

    It isn’t really surprising but it’s interesting that they were forming plans for the iPad 3 (and had a working retina display prototype to show) four months before the iPad 2 was announced.

    • PMZanetti - 9 years ago

      Not surprising at all. They probably had working models of iPad mini, and outline of iPhone 5 as well. And thats just what was in discussion. In the lab, future generations from the idea to prototype phase also exist.

      It will be another 3-4 years before new Apple products are completely new and were not conceived of or even designed during the Jobs era.

      • Nick Normal - 9 years ago

        “another” 3-4 years? So you’re saying Jobs had hardware product vision going 8 years in advance? (email from 2010, died Oct 2011, you’re talking in 2014 about a 2010 email and saying 4 more years, that’s 8 years give or take) You seriously think anybody has HARDWARE prototypes 8 years in advance?

  4. I do really amazed about how Steve Jobs planing for 3 or 4 years ahead. what such a Great man.

    • rogifan - 9 years ago

      What’s so amazing about that? I’d be shocked if a company didn’t do that.

      • Andy Brooks - 9 years ago

        most companies don’t do that.

      • Tobias Hahn - 9 years ago

        Samsung does… Simple strategy. If Apple does this, lets do the same. Gold iPhone? Lets have one too. Voice Assistent? We can copy that. Good stategy. Did work yesterday, works today, will work tomorrow. imho

      • Dolores Park - 9 years ago

        Seriously, Andy Brooks??? ALL major tech companies do that. Its called strategic planning, its 3-5 years out and beyond. Its where you plan your R&D and long term evolutionary path. If you do not have a strategic planning dept., you won’t be around for long.

  5. scumbolt2014 - 9 years ago

    So they were planning to do stuff they did and talked about it. Shocker.

    • acslater017 - 9 years ago

      It’s very rare to get an inside look on timelines, frank discussions about where they’re falling behind, when things fall into place. Apple likes to polish everything behind the scenes and drop things on customers like it’s magic. So while the products are nothing new, the peek behind the curtains is pretty special.

  6. silvergold84 - 8 years ago

    Where do you read that android is forward about notifications ecc? I read ” to stay ahead”. Anyway isn’t patent of android or samsung, the notifications was in Mac before they used it. Pinch to zoom, a full touch display without keyboard are innovations patented . Clearly Steve talked in some way in the emails , because he perfectionist and innovator .