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TUAW Interview: Fake Steve Jobs


We got a chance to sit down (virtually) with the unofficial version of everyone's favorite iCEO, via his alter ego & consigliere Dan Lyons. Fake Steve's perspective is always unique and sometimes astonishing; read on.

TUAW: Fake Steve, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me. Before we begin this, I'd like to start off by saying that, on behalf of everyone, it is wonderful to see you in good health and back at the helm of Apple. Phil Schiller did a fine job in your absence, but the man has no stage presence. And Tim Cook's droning voice could put even sugar-fed hyperactive children to sleep -- what a snoozer.

First question: Let's talk about Microsoft. The company recently released its newest operating system, Windows 7, and with it an experimental chain of branded retail stores that largely copy Apple's own concept, right down to the inclusion of in-store support centers, called Guru bars. Your thoughts?

FSJ: Microsoft still hasn't realized that its copycat business model (also known as a "close follower" strategy) doesn't work anymore. For 20 or 25 years this company just waited for others to innovate, then copied the innovation and sold it for less - and this worked great for them. But this stopped working right around 2000 or so. The rest of the world just moves too fast now. Look, they're still trying to catch Google in search, and they've got what -- one percent market share? Same thing for Zune, right?

Well, keep fighting the good fight on that one, you morons. As for the stores, well, they look nice enough, since they copied ours. But in terms of how well they'll do? Come on. Their stores are a joke and they've arrived too late. The whole point of being a close follower is you have to follow closely. We opened our first store in 2001 and we've got something like four thousand of them in the United States alone. I know you're going to tell me I'm a bit off on that number, and, well, maybe so. But I still say we've got four thousand stores and if I say it enough times, people will believe me. Anyway, the other thing Microsoft seems not to understand is that it's not enough just to open a store -- you need to have something cool to put in that store. That might be a problem for them.

TUAW: Their mobile strategy has fallen flat on its face. Windows Mobile, now renamed Windows Phone, is clearly way behind OSX iPhone. Windows Mobile 6.5 is a stopgap measure at best. Windows Mobile 7 is another year away from shipping on devices. And with the recent Danger debacle, the future looks bleak for Microsoft. Do they stand a snowball's chance in hell of ever competing with you? Do you even care?

FSJ: Wait a minute. Microsoft makes mobile phone software? I didn't know that. Are you serious?

TUAW: Speaking of companies that are universally despised. Your contract with AT&T, as the exclusive carrier for the iPhone, is due to expire soon. Tell me you don't plan to continue shackling iPhone to this single carrier?

FSJ: If it is the last thing I do, I will get us off AT&T. By Grabthar's hammer, by the sons of Worvan, this shall be done. Look for news on this early next year.
TUAW: Moving on to Google. With the introduction of Android 2.0 and increasing product introductions like the recent Verizon Droid, Google is slowly gaining traction in the market. How badly do you want to drive hat pins into Eric Schmidt's testicles?

FSJ: Well, very badly, except that Eric Schmidt does not have testicles. Lot of people don't know that. But if he did have them, yes, I would want to harm them. A lot. The guy sat here in our board meetings and listened to all of our product plans and then just stole all of our ideas. I mean he sat here -- right here -- talking to me, asking me questions. I'm sorry. This just gets me really upset. Sniff. Can we move on?

TUAW: Do you see Chrome OS as threat, or just a half-assed experiment to convert the desktop into ad space?

FSJ: The latter. But this whole notion of paying for everything with advertising is just so totally frigtarded that I don't know where to begin. I guess what will happen is this. The vast majority of people -- the lumpenproletariat, the muggles -- will maybe accept the idea of an ad cluttered workspace in exchange for free stuff. It will be awful, and it will be invasive, and it will rob you of privacy, but people will go for it. Basically it will be all the people who now go for Microsoft -- the ones who put up with that awful experience in exchange for a low price. The ones who didn't mind all that crapware that came on their new Dell machine, or maybe they minded but they didn't know any better. Those people will move to Google-based machines and devices because the hardware will be free and maybe even the connectivity will be free, so they'll consider it a bargain to get plugged into the maw of the Google machine. A smaller, select community will stay with us. These are people who will realize that they're better off parting with money than with their sanity. They will want a clean, uncluttered experience, and they will be happy to pay for that experience. To sum up: Google wipes out Microsoft, we keep growing.

What about this Psytar business? First they countersue you, then they fake their own death by declaring bankruptcy. How do you plan to make an example of these turds?

FSJ: All I can say is that Moshe and a team have been dispatched to Florida.
TUAW: Let's bring the conversation back home. Apple has received a great deal of criticism, and really bad press, regarding its iron-fisted App Store approval process. Developers are lining up at your door with torches and pitchforks, and some, like the noted Facebook app developer, have taken more drastic measures -- boycotting the iPhone altogether. What is your official stance and what would you say to these disgruntled developers?

FSJ: Have fun writing apps for Android, with its fragmented marketplace and a zillion different kinds of hardware to support, and Windows Mobile, which gives you the wonderful opportunity to work with the good folks at Microsoft, and with Palm Web OS, which boasts a user base that is approaching four digits. Yeah. It's like that. We're the only game in town. You don't like it, fine. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

TUAW: iTablet. Is it real, and can I have one?

FSJ: Yes it's real. Yes you can. As soon as we're done and you cough up the money. My advice is go get in line outside your local Apple store now, so you can be the first to get one.

TUAW: That's all the questions I have for you, Fake Steve. Thanks so much. BFF!

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