Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer (now Apple, Inc) in April 1976 along with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne was in Bangalore, India on Saturday, December 4th, to speak to a bunch of young entrepreneurs and achievers of the Young Presidents Organisation who wanted to hear the story of the most-loved technology brand in the world — Apple.
Woz who visited for the first time India reported to have likened today’s smartphones to the Apple III, an ill-fated computer of the 1908s that was largely considered a failure in the market:
“But the Apple III failed… is it because there were too many people working on it?
Yes, if the guys at Apple had built the machine that they would love, it would have been successful. It came instead from formulas from Apple executives. Marketing people were in charge and some very bad decisions got made, in my opinion. There were hardware failures. You put out a product that has failures right away, and even if you fix it a year later, it just doesn’t sell. It’s the same thing with any smartphone today. It comes out and it has something horribly wrong about it. You can fix everything wrong about it, and it still won’t sell. It has missed its window of opportunity,” Woz quoted as saying.
When asked about “Was Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs an accurate representation of your relationship with Steve Jobs?”
Woz said “How would I know? I haven’t read it. I have been so busy in the last two months. I never got around to reading that book. It is on my Kindle, my iPhone, my iPad, on my computer and I bought a hard cover. But I have been so busy that I never read it. But I have lived a lot of it. So I am sure it is accurate. Steve Jobs was himself after honesty in the book, and he did not want the book to be closed or to hide the truth.”
On questioned there is often this talk about how you and Steve Jobs were the best of friends and then one day he threw the remote control you had designed on to a wall and smashed it. Woz commented:
“That was about the only incident where he treated me like he has treated other people. The reason he did it was because of miscommunication. He thought that I was against him and Apple. I wasn’t. I had made one phone call to John Sculley (the Apple CEO then). All I told him was that during the shareholders’ meeting, the Apple II was not mentioned once. All they talked about was Macintosh, Macintosh, Macintosh! And the people that I worked with were hurt. They felt ignored; they felt that they did not matter. I stood up for people who had been ignored. But later I sat Steve down, and then Apple gave me a nice letter and let me start my own remote control company (CL 9) even when I was with Apple. So I am still with Apple. At a small salary, but I am still with them.”
Isaacson shared a similar depiction of events in the biography book:
One Saturday, a few weeks after they had visited Washington together, Jobs went to the new Palo Alto studios of Hartmut Esslinger, whose company frogdesign had moved there to handle its design work for Apple. There he happened to see sketches that the firm had made for Wozniak’s new remote control device, and he flew into a rage. Apple had a clause in its contract that gave it the right to bar frogdesign from working on other computer-related projects, and Jobs invoked it. “I informed them,” he recalled, “that working with Woz wouldn’t be acceptable to us.” When the Wall Street Journal heard what happened, it got in touch with Wozniak, who, as usual, was open and honest. He said that Jobs was punishing him. “Steve Jobs has a hate for me, probably because of the things I said about Apple,” he told the reporter. Jobs’s action was remarkably petty, but it was also partly caused by the fact that he understood, in ways that others did not, that the look and style of a product served to brand it. A device that had Wozniak’s name on it and used the same design language as Apple’s products might be mistaken for something that Apple had produced. “It’s not personal,” Jobs told the newspaper, explaining that he wanted to make sure that Wozniak’s remote wouldn’t look like something made by Apple. “We don’t want to see our design language used on other products. Woz has to find his own resources. He can’t leverage off Apple’s resources; we can’t treat him specially.”