Steve Jobs and Gawker haven’t seen eye-to-eye lately, so it’s somewhat surprising to see the Apple CEO engage in a lengthy email exchange with Gawker’s Ryan Tate over the App Store’s walled garden ecosystem and Apple’s ongoing feud with Adobe and other intermediary APIs.
Less surprising is the fact that Gawker’s Tate, in response to Jobs’ polite, reasonable and clear-headed replies, quickly resorted to disrespectful dickhead mode (partly fueled, it seems, by one too many cocktails.
The exchange begins with a simple question by Tate: how does Jobs think Bob Dylan would feel about Apple if he were still 20 today? “Would he think the iPad had the faintest thing to do with revolution? Revolutions are about feedom.”
Jobs’ response is to say that the iPad is about freedom: freedom from spyware, freedom from poor performance and (lamely) “freedom from porn.”
“Some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is,” Jobs wrote.
From there, though, it just gets fairly ugly. Tate makes some interesting points about the importance of intermediary APIs (like Adobe’s iPhone Flash compiler) in computing, but he’s talking from the perspective of a desktop user, not a mobile user, where there is no margin for poor performance or battery life.
Worse, while Jobs remains respectful and polite through most of the exchange, Tate quickly degenerates into standard Gawker stylebook snark and obscenity, ultimately exasperating Jobs to the point of ending the exchange with: “What have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others work and belittle their motivations?”
It’s a frustrating read. In many ways, Tate had a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to pick the mind of the most important visionary in tech and engage him in a spirited, informative debate. Instead, he got drunk, started raving and blew it.