As CEOs of Apple, both Tim Cook and his predecessor Steve Jobs pride or, in Jobs’ case, prided themselves on the ability to say “no” to ideas. For obvious reasons, most of the time the world never gets to hear what those shot-down ideas actually were.
However, emails disclosed as part of the discovery for the Epic vs. Apple trial, now adjourned, shows one of the ideas that was talked about internally — but ultimately abandoned. That ideas was for a 15-inch MacBook Air, discussed as far back as 2007, the year before Apple debuted its ultra-thin notebook.
The MacBook Air was a game-changer when it was launched in January 2008, sporting an almost impossibly slimline design. But the larger screen version was nowhere in sight. The first-gen model boasted a 13.3-inch display, while Apple later offered a smaller, 11.6-inch version. But the August 2007 email showed that Apple was at least considering a larger 15-inch MacBook Air for 2008, which ultimately wound up never materializing. Instead, Apple stuck with the MacBook Pro as the only 15-inch laptop in Apple’s line.
More interesting tidbits
The email, which was sent to the Executive Team, makes interesting reading. For example, it references “tablet” under the heading of first half of 2008. This is an early reference to the iPad, which wound up shipping in 2010. It also features Apple’s immediate response to the first iPhone, which had only launched a couple of months earlier. The memo notes that there is “increasing demand in US” and notes that Apple will discuss price point and possible business markets. It also discusses the impending European launch, with the UK and Germany in October, followed by France in November.
Then there’s a fascinating reference to the App Store under the heading “open up software?” Steve Jobs was firmly against this until he was eventually convinced it would be a good business opportunity for Apple. “EA games” is written in parenthesis, showing they were an early consideration for Apple Store partner. The App Store opened in 2008.
Last, but not least, there’s a reference to “fake Steve Jobs” scrawled in pen at the top of the page. This is a reference to Daniel Lyons, the journalist who posted parody Steve Jobs tweets and blogs as the Fake Steve Jobs. At the time, the question of who was writing these missives was a pretty compelling little tech mystery. News about Lyons’ identity broke on August 6, 2007 — the same day as the meeting the memo refers to. Clearly, Apple’s executive team took a few minutes to discuss the Jobs fakery during the meeting. Who wouldn’t love to have eavesdropped on that part of the chat?