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The conference interviews a variety of luminaries in the tech and media industries, and Jobs has frequently attended in the past, often presenting interesting insights into what was going on within his company.
Back in 2004, Jobs rescued the event from an unprepared and flustered Carly Fiorina, who struggled to find answers to the questions she was asked. Jobs provided memorable replies to a variety of questions, including the comment that he was proud, not just of the products Apple had shipped, but also the products it had decided not to ship.
When asked pointedly what products he was proud not to have released, Jobs answered, "an Apple PDA." Later, during a public Q&A session, a user with a Palm Treo asked Jobs to produce a PDA/phone hybrid. Jobs responded that it would be best to remain happy with the Treo. It would be another three years before Apple shipped the iPhone.
Asked when Apple would support Microsoft's WMA DRM format on the iPod, Jobs replied that Apple had no plans to support it until Microsoft reached 50% market share in media playback, taunting that Microsoft could ask for Apple's support again once it had achieved that.
Jobs drops more details
Jobs also introduced the new AirPort Express base station at the 2004 event. The next year, Jobs returned and unveiled iTunes 4.9 with support for podcasts, calling the emerging technology "the Tivo for Radio for iPod."
Jobs also coyly implied that Apple would be entering the movie business within iTunes before talking about iPod enabled phones. He said that that wireless carriers retained enough power in the industry to practically dictate the specifications of each cell phone being manufactured, while hinting that Apple was not interested so much in iPod-enabled phones as something different and larger.
Jobs also defended Apple's pending efforts to sue bloggers to identify and stop internal leaks within Apple, saying that "no one has the right to publish confidential information just because they can," and insisting that he would take his case against AppleInsider and other websites "to the Supreme Court" if he had to. Apple eventually lost its case and appeal due to shield laws that protect journalists who reveal secrets without breaking the law to do so.
Jobs and Gates on stage together
In 2007, Jobs appeared on stage with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, in their first joint session at the event and at any major event in recent memory. Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer also attended, but appeared by himself in his own interview segment.
Jobs and Gates reminisced about tech history, with Jobs noting that "Bill built the first software company in the industry and I think he built the first software company before anybody really in our industry knew what a software company was, except for these guys. And that was huge. That was really huge. And the business model that they ended up pursuing turned out to be the one that worked really well, you know, for the industry. I think the biggest thing was, Bill was really focused on software before almost anybody else had a clue that it was really the software."
Gates in turn noted that Jobs had founded Apple pursuing a dream of mass market computers as "an incredible empowering phenomenon," adding that "one of the most fun things we did was the Macintosh and that was so risky. People may not remember that Apple really bet the company. Lisa hadnât done that well, and some people were saying that general approach wasnât good, but the team that Steve built even within the company to pursue that, even some days it felt a little ahead of its time."
Jobs concluded by noting that, "I sort of look at us as two of the luckiest guys on the planet because we found what we loved to do and we were at the right place at the right time and weâve gotten to go to work every day with super bright people for 30 years and do what we love doing.
"And so itâs hard to be happier than that. You know, your family and that. What more can you ask for? And so I donât think about legacy much. I just think about being able to get up every day and go in and hang around these great people and hopefully create something that other people will love as much as we do. And if we can do that, thatâs great."