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A letter to Obama from Jobs

Posted August. 09, 2013 23:27,   


Dear President Obama,

It has been almost two years since I left the world. When I met you in San Francisco in autumn 2010, I said, “You’re likely to be a one-term president.” I was rude and apologize for my false prediction. Belatedly, I congratulate you on your reelection.

When alive, I poured all my passion to make a “great product.” Profits matter to companies but I think they are meaningful only as long as they contribute to making great products. I have never thought about making profits by lobbying the government or getting protection. Why did I bother to care about politics? It is no surprise that I failed to predict your reelection.

I was embarrassed to hear that the International Trade Commission banned imports of Apple’s smartphones and tablet PCs for the infringement of Samsung’s patent. And then, I heard you vetoed it. I deeply appreciate your warm heart caring for Apple.

The patent war with Samsung initiated when I was working at Apple. It’s true that Samsung’s Galaxy S and Galaxy tab copied the design of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. You know how much I hate copying. As you may well aware, I was mad at Bill Gates of Microsoft which created Windows after copying Macintosh’s Graphic-based User Interface (GUI).

People call me an “Innovation Icon.” I deserve it because I created the PC market and commercialized the GUI and released a series of innovative products from Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. To be honest with you, however, I can’t say I stole others’ ideas.

When I criticized Gates that Windows copied Mac’s GUI, he refuted, “We both had a rich neighbor called Xerox. When I trespassed to steal a television, I only found that you stole it already.” It’s true that the idea of Mac’s GUI came from Xerox, as Gates said.

Pablo Picasso said, “A good artist copy and a great artist steal.” I have never thought that stealing a good idea is shameful. The problem is whether you can make a great product. In fact, I was angry not because MS copied Mac but because it did not steal it right, which means it made a poor product.

Hopefully, you could understand that the point of the issue here is not about a patent but about a “great product.” Innovation disappeared while Apple and Samsung continued a tedious patent battle. Both companies are releasing succeeding models but they are far from innovation or greatness. I started the war but the posthumous patent war has definitely lost the direction.

I understand that the ITC will look at whether Samsung infringed Apple’s patent or not and decide on an import ban on Friday. It is your authority, Mr. President, to decide whether you will veto it or not. Regardless of what decision you make, please help Apple not stay complacent under the government protection or lobbying and lose passion and a challenging spirit.

The Apple that lost the spirit of “Stay hungry, stay foolish,” is no longer Apple.