To celebrate its twentieth anniversary, Slashdot persuaded former Apple co-founder and everyone’s favorite geek Steve Wozniak to answer some questions thrown at him by the site’s readers. Woz took the time to answer a number of questions on Apple and his thoughts on how the company is doing without Steve Jobs at the helm, jailbreaking, the iPhone, and more.
Here are some of his best responses.
When asked how he feels about Apple today and the Cupertino company’s conduct — particularly in regards to its legal battles with rival companies — Woz wrote:
I always think first and foremost as a technology consumer and lover. Like all of us who appreciate the quality of Apple products, I have mixed feelings. I grew up with core values of openness and sharing of technology. When I ran dial-a-joke it was illegal to own, use or purchase your own telephone or answering machine. You couldn’t connect anything to the phone jack except that which you leased from AT&T. You had little choice and there was no room for outside innovators. We techies all said this was a bad thing. You probably see the parallel.
[…] I wish that instead of all these lawsuits Apple was sitting down and cross-licensing with the other players. They have come up some very good features without complicating the UI. Things like a palm swipe to take a screen snapshot. I would like my iPhone to be the best it could, even if someone else did some of the things first. And Apple could license iTunes perhaps, or help the other platforms develop it. The market shares would probably remain the same but we consumers would all win.
While Woz may not always agree with Apple’s approach to competitors, he admits that if the opportunity to return to the company arose, he’d be there in an instant:
I like to do what I’m good at, which is enjoying technology. I don’t honestly feel I could do better than anyone reading this at a role in Apple. Jobs had the drive to run things and influence things. If there was something for sure where I’d be a great help to Apple, I’d be there in an instant, as Apple is #1 in my heart.
Woz was also asked whether he feels Apple can survive without Jobs. This is a question all of us will have pondered at some point since Jobs’s passing, and it’s interesting to get an opinion from someone who has been so close to him and to Apple in the past. Woz wrote:
Who knows? Back then we knew how to make good new versions of our computers to satisfy the needs of our Macintosh market. But we didn’t do radically different things until the iMac. We should keep a watch for Apple returning to just milking its existing markets and not astounding us with new categories of products, or totally astounding ones. There is always a danger. And my personal opinion is that if it goes sour, it might have gone sour with Jobs there so conclusions should not be drawn. That is not constructive for Apple.
When asked about Apple’s decision to stick to closed platforms and its “walled garden” approach to software, Woz confessed that he likes to support the jailbreak community which reminds him of his younger self when he met Jobs:
Some say that Apple iPhones are closed but there is a different view. They are closed as to methods of sale and delivery. You can create any app you want to and have the ability to on your own on the iPhone. You just can’t distribute it to huge numbers of people outside the app store of Apple. So young developers are not hindered totally. Yeah, on Android you can do anything for fun and announce it to the whole world and that’s very motivating. So keep it up. I have always given my support to the jailbreak community because they remind me of myself when I met Steve Jobs and how we were, then and for the years leading to Apple.
If you’re a fan of Woz, his Q&A on Slashdot is well worth a read, and it’s not all serious talk. For example, Woz finds the time to talk about his favorite toy, and his best practical joke. Also, be sure to check out the latest episode of the CultCast, which had Woz as a special guest — it’s well worth a listen.