Steve Jobs' Snarky Testimony Takes Center Stage in iPod Class-Action Lawsuit Opening
Apple this week is battling a decade-old class-action lawsuit by iPod owners angry that their media players were locked to Apple's iTunes ecosystem. Key pieces of evidence in the trial include email conversations among Apple executives and a videotaped deposition of Steve Jobs, both of which were made public for the first time this week as part of the court proceedings.
According to CNN Money and Reuters, the question-and-answer session with Steve Jobs focused on Apple's response to RealNetworks and its Harmony music service. In 2004, RealNetworks created this competing music service that allowed users to download songs and play them on any media device, including the iPod.
RealNetworks' iPod support incensed Apple, which published a press release accusing RealNetworks of hacking the iPod. Apple adopted this strategy following a series of emails between Apple marketing head Phil Schiller and CEO Steve Jobs.
"How's this?" Jobs wrote. "We are stunned that Real is adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker and breaking into the iPod."
"I like likening them to hackers," Apple marketing chief Philip Schiller responded.
When asked if this response to RealNetworks was "strong and vehement," Jobs replied, "They don't sound too angry to me when I read them," adding that, "A strong response from Apple would be a lawsuit."
During the deposition, Jobs reportedly was snarky, asking "Do they still exist?" when referring to RealNetworks. Jobs also was evasive in his testimony, responding 74 times with "I don't remember," "I don't know" or "I don't recall."
When he did answer questions, Jobs painted Apple as a company being held hostage by the major music labels, which required digital rights management (DRM) on iTunes music as part of their contract terms. Apple claimed it had to repeatedly update iTunes to patch holes in its DRM or risk forfeiting these contracts.
The class action case started earlier this week and is being heard in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California. Apple marketing head Phil Schiller and senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue are expected to testify as part of the ongoing court proceedings.