When it comes to electronics product design, few executives or managers are as demanding or as uncompromising as Apple CEO Steve Jobs. While others have played arguably more important roles in the technical or artistic direction of the iPod, iPhone, and unibody MacBooks, it has consistently been Mr. Jobs that has pushed his engineers to cut the devices’ weight and footprint, all while packing in top functionality.
Many feared that the iPhone would be his final opus, when he departed the company with a failing liver. However, less than a year later, Mr. Jobs is back in action, and according to the Wall Street Journal, he has one thing on his mind — the new Apple tablet.
Last October in an earnings call, Mr. Jobs famously remarked, “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk.”
However, that’s exactly what Apple is trying to do, in essence. They’re trying to create a luxury-brand netbook with more power and functionality, that’s a small step up from traditional netbooks in price — similar to its business model in the notebook sector that sees it selling ultralight, long-battery life notebooks for a markup.
Reportedly, Mr. Jobs is acting as a ruthless and relentless captain, demanding long hours, efficiency, and secrecy of his employees. This comes to a shock to many Apple employees who were beginning to enjoy more freedoms while Mr. Jobs was on leave. States a source at Apple, “People have had to readjust.”
In a brief email Mr. Jobs reportedly contradicted these comments, telling the WSJ, “Much of your information is incorrect.”
The new device is reportedly very important to Apple. With iPod sales slowing, Apple is looking for a new hit to recharge its lineup and keep the so-called “halo effect” going. The tablet market — sparked by Microsoft a decade ago, but with currently only 1.4 percent PC marketshare — seems an ideal place to start.
Reportedly Apple has been working on a tablet for almost a decade now, first filing a patent in 2000. Mr. Jobs reportedly killed the project twice due to disappointing battery life among other things. Now, with the iPhone’s development lighting the way, it appears Apple is finally set to green light the device. According to the WSJ, Apple may be pressured to release its tablet at $499 or less, due to the plethora of Windows and Linux netbooks priced in the same range.
Apple’s tremendous secrecy makes it hard to determine fact from fantasy, but its clear that something is afoot in Cupertino.
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