Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been a hot topic on tech blogs lately for something other than the iPad: his emails. Responding to frustrated Apple users and fans alike, Jobs’s terse responses to emails sent to his work address—firstname.lastname@example.org—are being republished online by excited recipients.
While most are one-word replies to questions about Apple products, Jobs has been stringing together more elaborate responses of late. In March, when asked whether the iPad will support Google’s Picasa library format, Jobs replied with a light jab: “No, but iPhoto on the Mac has much better faces and places features.”
When a blogger complained last month that the iPad was taking too long to get to Europe, a reply from Jobs lay waiting in his inbox the next morning: “Are you nuts?” wrote Jobs. “We are doing the best we can. We need enough units to have a responsible and great launch.”
Apple’s boss also responded in April to a letter writer from Cupertino, Calif., who wrote to thank Jobs for supporting a California bill that would create a live kidney donor registry. The writer’s 24-year-old girlfriend had died as a result of liver failure. Jobs, who underwent a liver transplant in 2008, wrote back: “Your [sic] most welcome, James. I’m sorry about your girlfriend. Life is fragile.” In an article about the exchange, tech writer Dan Frommer at Business Insider said Jobs’s email “further endeared him to millions of people.”
Toronto-based author and professor Don Tapscott, who specializes in corporate governance, business strategy and transparency, is intrigued by Jobs’s behaviour, but skeptical. “I applaud these very initial steps to be more transparent, to open up the company, and to engage with his market and stakeholders,” he says. “But so far, they’re baby steps.” Others are frustrated that this has resulted in any good publicity for Jobs at all. One commenter on Business Insider described Frommer’s post as “blatant, unapologetic fanboyism at its absolute worst.”