The creative founder of Apple cuts through the reality distortion field...
apcmag said:Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says he wishes Apple hadn't released a 2G version of the iPhone; that the Apple TV is frustrating to use, and that the MacBook Air won't be a hit.
Wozniak was in Sydney this morning to deliver the keynote speech at a conference focused on Australian broadband. But his commentary during a press Q&A session ranged far beyond the topics of broadband and telecommunications, with Woz lobbing numerous constructive critiques about Apple's latest products back over the pond to Cupertino.
What do you think about the Apple TV?
The Apple TV is a really good indication of the future of the world. But I don't think it's taking off yet. I don't think the new technology is going to get recognised in the same way the Macintosh did... now every computer in the world is a Macintosh. [laughter]
The AppleTV has problems... the 24 hour limit once I start watching, I have to finish in 24 hours. My life is way too mobile and unpredictable for that. I don't want to have to pay again to watch the rest the next night.
There's a lot of issues coming out -- what the models are going to be, how we're going to sell this product once everyone has the bandwidth. Pretty much Apple likes to lead on with the future. We drop legacy connectors much quicker than Apple does. But I don't like to be given control of something by remote control, then have restrictions put up against me about how I can use it. That interferes with my feeling of humanness.
Are you looking forward to the introduction of the 3G iPhone? And can you give us any hints on when that will be?
Well, to tell you the truth, I was really disappointed when the iPhone was introduced. I was in the audience, and half the phones that AT&T sold at that time were all 3G phones.
I had 3G phones and non-3G phones and I knew the difference, so I was shocked because Apple was bringing full internet with full webpages, and I was surprised that it would not be 3G, and I knew that that would be a speed detriment.
I suffice with it in a lot of cases, and whenever it gets to the point where things are loading too slowly, I'll look at it later on my laptop. So, I can't give you any clues as to when it's coming, but it's sorta been known since day one that it would be here. I was surprised, because Apple normally is into the future technologies... looking where the world is going and trying to be one jump ahead. 3G phones still work at the slower speeds, if the network isn't established enough.
It was a battery issues wasn't it?
I never heard that. I never heard it was a battery issue - I don't understand why it would be a battery issue. I get as much life on my 3G phones as I do on my non-3G phones.
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm not paying close enough attention. But I don't think that's it though. Sure... the more you use it, the more bits you use, the more power it uses. That might make sense. I'm not privy to that.
The Macbook Air ... what your thoughts were on it given Apple computers have always been very feature rich, and the MacBook Air has made many, many compromises for the sake of being slim?
Occasionally, I like products when they are smaller, nicer, good styling... it's sort of like a little way to show something off. Like, you're a geek, and you can be in the first place... in the top category.
The MacBook Air... actually I like it. At first, I thought, it's so feature-missing, and I use... I burn DVDs a lot to pass files to other people. I watch movies on airplanes. I need one that will go an entire flight and switch batteries, when there's sometimes no power on the plane.
So, a lot of its missing features bothered me, but when I got it, for some reason, the way its keyboard is, I can type faster, it's a more comfortable, positive experience. I love the whiter-whites of the LED backlighting, which I don't have in my laptop yet (until I get home... because Apple's just bought out a 17" model with LED...)
So I'm trying to figure out a way to make the Air part of my life, because I'm a one-laptop-only person. I've got to now change my approach and have a desktop tower computer at home, keeping all my big data, which I don't have enough diskspace on the Air for, and I can finally take my Air around with me and use it. But I kind of want to.
I don't think it's a benefit if you have to carry around a DVD player with you, a couple of extra dongles to connect to Ethernet and things, and maybe an extra hard disk to carry your music on... but still, it's the appearance. I really like it.
I don't think it's going to be a hit, I know some people love it and it works great, they have a computer at work, and they use their Air to give presentations, but I don't see a mass swing over to them.
Woz's frustrations with inflight internet...
When we were in the air, we had a system in the United States on United Airlines flights... they had an analogue telephone jack that you could connect your laptop into and connect at a slow speed - 2400 baud - and I could do my email on it. But it was a hundredth the speed you were used to.
I always made it a point in my life to get my cellphone onto the internet, and it was a lot of work, and that's what it's like when you're a pioneer. Experimenting constantly, updating settings as technology went from analogue to digital.
I carry multiple phones with me, some for one purpose, some for another purpose. I have normal slower phones, and I have 3G phones. And I find that when it comes to having a question like, "What year was Gerrie-Lee Lewis born", before I hit enter on the Google search on a slower phone, I realise I'll get the answer quicker on my 3G Razr.
Speed of mobile internet is so important to me. Now, United has cut its phone service out, so you have no more ability to connect to the internet in the air. I had to do other things like read books!
The same month, these other airlines like SAS dropped their satellite connections. The one time in my life I had satellite broadband on the plane, boy was that speedy and fast. Then they dropped it. But I hope it will be back - I hear Qantas is doing something.
What's it like living your life as a world renowned technologist?
Technologists... are they strange people? Well, sort of. Sometimes! Say you are an executive in a company and you have a problem with your network equipment. You call in the technologists and they speak all this geeky stuff that you cannot possibly understand, and you kinda have to leave them alone. The decisions they make kinda go through and have to get approved.
When you grow up in technology and become a real genius at it, you sort of become a social outsider. People go, "oh, he's some kinda electronics geek or something." So once you're a social outsider, technology becomes a kind of refuge. A place to hide... a place to exemplify how you can do it even better.
Well, people don't understand technology and don't know what you're doing. And when you grow up with laughter in your life, you can make it kinda funny. We always used to put ticking metronomes in lockers at schools so they sounded like a bomb in the locker, but we would be extra creative and put a transistor in there so that when you opened the locker, it would start ticking faster. The laughter drove us along.
When you have all these technologists working to find the last little bug, and you finally find it at three in the morning, you need relief from that - the ability to joke with friends about tech.
With the exception of the iPod, Apple has always been a challenger to "the great monopolist". In Australia, we have a situation where Telstra is "a great monopolist" and other telcos struggle to deal with them. What advice can you give companies trying to break past monopolies that try to control the market?
Well, strangely enough, monopolists aren't necessarily bad. Be a monopolist, fine. But abuse your power to subsume other markets and not open them up to true competition, and innovation, that's the problem that Microsoft has been accused of.
In a sense, Apple is partly a monopolist too, in the sense that almost everyone knows they're either in the Macintosh camp or the PC camp. You kind of know what computer you're going to go into the store and buy. You don't go to a store and compare the two equally - you already have an idea of what you're going to get, for reasons of what your company requires you to have, or your profession requires you to have.
So, Apple has a lot more freedom, because they don't have a huge world market share. They're more of a specialty brand, that basically allows Apple to do a lot of good things for us. It's kind of like if you have a good emperor... we have a good emperor. You can do a lot of great things.
We're able to provide the entire experience of computing, whereas other companies that have built the hardware and we've built the software... there are too many unknowns and complexities to do as many great things.Apple has total freedom in its decisions - and it usually results in a good solution. It helps.
Steve, you've said you're aware of the Australian Government's broadband plans, but should we be biting the bullet and building fibre to the home straight away?
Fortunately, it's a decision that can be put off in time. In my country, one of the big phone companies, Verizon, is building fibre-to-the-home, and one of the other ones, AT&T, is building fibre-to-the-node or neighbourhood. Each one has its own considerations. I think the people are going to be starting off with a bump in bandwidth that they're seeing, and after a while, when they want to do video in every room simultaneously, they'll start to feel pinched.
So I think fibre to the home might eventually be necessary in those cases. If you build a useful network today, you can expand it over time - you don't have to redo the actual infrastructure.