Q&A with Steve Jobs clarifies interesting product choices

Today's Apple event had some new, though not particularly breakthrough, products announced. The new version of iTunes, number 9, was released to the general public, in addition to the iPhone OS 3.1. In terms of hardware, there were a few new iPod releases, too.

As is customary with Apple events, there were a number of let downs, due to the fact that rumor sites thrive on the company, well known for its secrecy. This time around, it was expected that the iPod touch would be given a camera, as well as the iPod nano, to add to the storage boosts. Whilst the boosts became a reality, the camera never eventuated... why? The New York Times had a Q&A session with Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, providing a bit of insight into why the company made the choices that it did for the event.

On the subject of the lack of camera in the touch, Jobs said, "Originally, we weren't exactly sure how to market the Touch. Was it an iPhone without the phone? Was it a pocket computer? What happened was, what customers told us was, they started to see it as a game machine. Because a lot of the games were free on the store. Customers started to tell us, 'You don't know what you've got here — it's a great game machine, with the multitouch screen, the accelerometer, and so on.' We started to market it that way, and it just took off. And now what we really see is it's the lowest-cost way to the App Store, and that's the big draw. So what we were focused on is just reducing the price to $199. We don't need to add new stuff — we need to get the price down where everyone can afford it."

In the product refreshes was the aforementioned video camera on the iPod nano, one which lacks the capacity to take still photographs. Many people wondered why this was, so Jobs cleared it up, saying, "The sensors for doing video are fairly thin. The sensors for doing a still camera, at much higher pixel resolution — and we'd really like to have autofocus — they are just way too thick to ever fit inside the Nano."

Lastly, the NY Times gave Jobs the question of whether or not the company will take a break from new products, due to his recent absence. He said that there were products being worked on when he left, and there are some that he's personally overseeing right now, helping them get polished up. Lastly, Jobs said, "We have some really good stuff coming up."

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""We have some really good stuff coming up." - I bet they do!

I particularly don't see why people get so excited about the App Store. Yes, it's great and all. But people tend to give it such a massive importance... I mean... Most of the apps (98%) is complete JUNK.

It's not about the hardware, it's about the apps store.

Apple would be criticized to heck if they had put a camera in the iTouch, I think, much more so than by leaving it out. People would have half expected it to match the Flip HD or at least match the quality of the camera in their phones! I think a camera will have to wait for the son of the Touch, whatever that might be. What disappoints me is that it sounds as though the screen hasn't been upgraded to OLED and it doesn't have a decent graphics chip. This time last year I would have bet money against my even looking at a Microsoft based product but the Zune HD is starting to look impressive. Now, if someone could make an emulator for it so it can run games from the Apple app store...!

basix said,
" latest Intel CPU and nVidia GPU before everyone else." Source?


psh the whole PC world has access to that way before Apple ever announces a product.... heck i7 was out for how long before Apple pushed their i7 MacPro...

I am not sure how useful a camera would be to Touch users. I like the one on my iPhone as it has been convenient. How silly that they added a microphone, speaker, and video camera to the Nano and only a microphone to the top end iPod Touch models.

And if they wanted to make the Touch a "gaming" machine, they would have added speakers to it like the iPhone has.

All-in-all, it looks like the iPhone is the best portable device Apple has to offer.

As for the gaming capability of the iPhone/iPod Touch: it is good enough that I won't be taking my Nintendo DS on travel anymore. There are some good games and the graphics are actually quite good. The touch screen controls work really well with some game, not so good with other games. Prices for the games are really low as well.

The iPod touch has had a speaker in it since last year. I don't *think* they removed it... As for the microphone, I didn't know they added one built in to the new iPod touch, but you've been able to connect a set of headphones with built in microphone since last year.

They also added a speaker to the nano, if you're into trivia :P

at what point will apple stop milking the ipod? how about NEW products littearly new, as in something they dont currently make...

What BS! When did Apple ever listen to customers? they do what they like, force it one to their customers and the iCult is what makes people adopt any new Apple product. If Apple truly listened to their customers, the current version of the iPod Touch could have been released back in 2002.

A capacitive, multitouch scren, with a >600MHz processor and 512MB of RAM... in 2002. That would be a good desktop computer in 2002, not a media player that's a few millimetres thin.

we need to get the price down where everyone can afford it

Uhh, no, Steve, that has never been the "Apple way". The "Apple way" has always been about pricing gadgets higher than your competitors and somehow convincing your customers that the extra cost is justified. If the strategy was to price products "so everyone could afford it", every Mac product would be dramatically less money.

Unelss of course, Apple feels that iPods are for "everybody" whereas Macs are only for those who would buy a luxury car model. They've given us that speech before, too. Some people even fell for it.

Ricardo Gil said,
So you bitched about Apple products being expensive AND bitch about them getting cheaper? I find your PoV interesting...

No, he is poking fun at the fact that Apple has historically went with "snob appeal" as their marketing strategy and now are trying to say that the iPod Touch targets a more frugal market. The problem with this, is that the $199 8GB iPod Touch does not have the faster processor in it. This means that a lot of developers are going to have their hands tied of they truly want to support the affordable side of the market.

Shadrack said,
No, he is poking fun at the fact that Apple has historically went with "snob appeal" as their marketing strategy and now are trying to say that the iPod Touch targets a more frugal market. The problem with this, is that the $199 8GB iPod Touch does not have the faster processor in it. This means that a lot of developers are going to have their hands tied of they truly want to support the affordable side of the market.

I don't know anyone that's bought a Mac, iPhone, or iPod for this "snob" appeal. This is also not the first time that they have tried lowering their prices to make it more afforable. But I do see a lot of people complaining no matter what they do. Regardless of the features of the lower end iPod Touch, it can still do everthing that it did before and then some with the new firmware. It you want all the bells and whistles, you're going to have to pay more. No different than any other product line from any other company. Only thing that's different is the name.

I see Steve's point. Most people not into the latest technology news wouldn't have expected a camera to be added to the iPod touch and, therefore, many of them will not miss it :)

Still, I'm disappointed in the lack of new features for the iPod touch - I assumed an OLED screen was a must seeing as both Sony & Microsoft have adopted it for their media players. The screen on the Zune HD is going to look much more beautiful than the iPod touch's now.

We don't need to add new stuff � we need to get the price down where everyone can afford it.


hang on , people will be interested in the new ipod touch , but you only get the new 'stuff' (voice control etc) with the 32GB/64GB models , which cost the most ? Aren't they contradicting themselves ??? "We want to make them affordable , but if you want it , it's gonna cost ya "genius Apple , just genius

They're cheaper than what they were. They want people who don't own the touch to get one (increase market share) not people who have a touch to upgrade

Steve Jobs said,
... we need to get the price down where everyone can afford it.

It would be nice if they would reflect their US price for all products in each market respectively. AUD $199 for an 8GB iPod Touch would definitely reel in more users.

Are you crazy? So I could but a AUD$199 ipod touch, and sell it in the UK for 199 pounds, and double my money. Nobody would be using them to listen to music, people would be using them as currency swaps. Have you ever heard of arbitrage?? I guess not.

DeltaFalcon said,
It would be nice if they would reflect their US price for all products in each market respectively. AUD $199 for an 8GB iPod Touch would definitely reel in more users.

How come an 8 GB itouch with a price tag of $199 sound affordable? and a 16 GB zune hd with a price tag of $219 does not?

zagor said,
How come an 8 GB itouch with a price tag of $199 sound affordable? and a 16 GB zune hd with a price tag of $219 does not?

Did he say the Zune wasn't affordable, or are you talking of someone else's opinion?

Positioning the iPod Touch as a gaming machine is bold, I'm still taken back how they called out Nintendo and Sony. Competition is good though, get the prices of handheld games down to what they should be, no more than 10 bucks.

You do realize it cost companys 1000s of dollars just to get the SDK and months to years to complete a single game, so if a $10 game fails they could be out hundred of thousands of dollars

Then the SDKs just need to become cheaper. DSi ware and PSP minis are following Apple's lead here, and I'm pretty sure the PSP SDK was just lowered by 80%.

Also if a 50 dollar game fails a company would be much better off? A small company would be hurt no matter what the price (unless they were working out of their bedroom), and a large company can absorb the loss.

Mav Phoenix said,
Then the SDKs just need to become cheaper. DSi ware and PSP minis are following Apple's lead here, and I'm pretty sure the PSP SDK was just lowered by 80%.


... Nintendo and Sony following APPLE'S lead? What lead? Those two companies have ZERO to learn from Apple when it comes to making portable games machines. Nintendo especially, OWN that market.

FloatingFatMan said,
... Nintendo and Sony following APPLE'S lead? What lead? Those two companies have ZERO to learn from Apple when it comes to making portable games machines. Nintendo especially, OWN that market.


One thing that they could learn (as already mentioned by Mav Phoenix) is the price of the SDK. Xcode and the iPhone/iPod touch SDK are free, although you have to have a Mac to use them (but pretty much any Mac will work well for development, even an older PowerPC model).

FloatingFatMan said,
... Nintendo and Sony following APPLE'S lead? What lead? Those two companies have ZERO to learn from Apple when it comes to making portable games machines. Nintendo especially, OWN that market.

Following the lead by using a digital distribution method, see how I mentioned DSi ware and PSP minis?

Now I understand the thing about the Nano camera... but I'm sure there where a place to put it if they would really work it out.
But, they claim they didn't put a camera in the Touch because it was marketed as a game console... Hey Apple, look the DSi, it don't have a camera, it does have TWO of them...

No the main reason for not putting a camera in the touch is to get the cost down, as they want to the magic price points - this makes complete sense and I bet in the next event mentioning Touches there'll be a pretty big increase in sales because of this.

One other thing to consider, althought Steve Jobs didn't specifically state this, is that the thickness problems with the Nano would apply equally to the Touch (unless they put the camera right in the middle of the back) due to the tapered edges.

The DSi has 2 0.3MP cameras. Not much use at all, really, except for the uses on the DSi. On the iPod touch, people would expect a camera to take pictures they can actually use.

They would like to have auto focus he claims, but the iphone didn't have auto focus at first, so that could have been a "feature" to market later.

Well, the clarification is very interesting. The choices seemed very strange, so it was interesting to hear what Apple was thinking...