Steve Jobs Email Cited In DoJ E-Book Case Shows Bad Blood Between Apple And Amazon

"We want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes." - Steve Jobs (1983)

When last we left the Department of Justice’s e-book antitrust case with Apple, things weren’t looking good. After Apple was found guilty of price fixing, the DoJ dismissed Apple’s rebuttal. Apple is on track to lose the ability to sell e-books in the iBookstore for several years. Third-parties like Amazon are also to be given back the ability to sell their e-books directly to iOS users within their apps. The outcome of this case will likely be a blow to Apple’s business and an even bigger blow to its pride.

Today the DoJ filed a revised remedy proposal for Apple. Besides reducing the amount of time Apple has to stay out of the e-book market from ten years to five, there are no other major changes. The most interesting tidbit is an email between Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller from 2010.

First, a quick history lesson. In 2011, Apple changed its rules to make it so that any content sold in iOS apps had to go through the iTunes Store. In turn, Apple got a 30% cut of all transactions. That’s why you can’t buy e-books in the Kindle iOS app; Amazon can’t use its own payment system.

Today the DoJ cited an email from Steve Jobs as evidence that Apple changed its in-app purchase rules to retaliate against an Amazon ad campaign for the Kindle.


The conversation even goes so far as to suggest that Amazon was the sole reason Apple changed its policy on in-app purchases. There’s obviously still tension between the two companies because Amazon stands to lose a significant competitor in the marketplace if the DoJ wins this case.

Basically, the DoJ thinks this move was unfair to Amazon. Apple wanted “to make it more difficult for consumers using Apple devices to compare ebook prices among different retailers, and for consumers to purchase ebooks from other retailers on Apple’s devices,” according to the filing.

The arguments involved in this case run very deep, and you can read the DoJ’s whole filing if you want to get more of a handle on the situation. The DoJ is certainly very serious about changing the way Apple does business online. This quote about the DoJ’s view of Apple is particularly striking:

“Quite simply, Apple wants to continue business as usual, regardless of the antitrust laws. Under these circumstances, this Court should have no confidence that Apple on its own effectively can ensure that its illegal conduct will not be repeated. There must be significant oversight by someone not entrenched in Apple’s culture of insensitivity to basic tenets of antitrust law.”

  • ranasjsu

    So this was his business strategy. Get a life people.

  • Bulldogger123

    So this was his business strategy. Get a life people.

    Right, just because he didn’t like Amazon doesn’t mean he colluded with anyone to hurt them!

  • EyadHainey

    So this was his business strategy. Get a life people.

    LOL I wish Steve Jobs get a life and get back up, knocking them DOWN

  • lwdesign1

    Wow, I see nothing whatsoever wrong with Steve’s email that mentions anything about collusion. The DoJ is accusing Apple of monopolistic practices (which they aren’t) and it’s solution is to hand a monopoly to Amazon. Did Jeff Bezos kick in more campaign contributions than Apple?
    In a free market society, any company has the right to price and sell things the way they want. The buying public then will make the choice of buying or not buying to let the company know what it thinks of their pricing and product quality. Apple can NEVER have been a monopoly because there are so many other avenues that consumers can buy books. The DoJ has no right to interfere in Apple’s policies or force them to include a competitor’s products into the iPhone/iPod. Consumers will vote with their wallets if they don’t like what Apple has done and that should be the end of it.
    This DoJ action is yet another item in a long list of needless government interference into the private sector. The U.S. government is turning more and more into a model Big Brother socialist society where control and monitoring of its citizens are daily facts of life. Seems like we’re becoming the socialist Russia that we were always told as kids was such a bad system of government over-control.

  • HerbalEd

    And so the DOJ is going to make things more competitive by removing Amazon’s primary competitor? Huh??

  • HerbalEd

    So this was his business strategy. Get a life people.

    So you’re able to determine Job’s business strategy by just reading a couple of his emails??

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a journalist and co-host of The CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." He lives in Lexington, Kentucky. If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Follow him on Twitter.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address) | Read more posts by .

Posted in News |