Apple Alumnus Trip Hawkins: Cell Phones Today Are A Lot Like An Apple II

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Trip Hawkins may be better known today as being the founder and CEO of mega-gaming behemoth Electronic Arts, or perhaps his other gaming company 3DO, but once upon a time he was Director of Strategy and Marketing for Apple Computer. In 1982, he left Apple and founded Electronic Arts, which he then turned into one of the largest gaming companies on the planet. After leaving EA, he founded another new company called 3DO, but today he working on yet another new company called Digital Chocolate.

The folks at GameSpot have published an interview with Mr. Hawking that twice mentions his time at Apple. The bulk of the interview deals with how and why his new company is working on games and entertainment for cell phones, but we thought you might enjoy the bit about Apple, particularly his analogy for todayis cell phones. From GameSpotis interview:

GameSpot: Whatis behind the name Digital Chocolate?
Trip Hawkins: Itis the same kind of name as Apple Computer or Electronic Arts, where you take two words that donit look like they belong together. ?When I was at Apple, I used to get letters from customers telling us we were crazy and we had to change the name if we ever wanted to be taken seriously. The whole point about that name was to soften up the image of computing. I think people who have cell phones donit realize itis a computer now--that it can do a lot more than just be a telephone. Maybe people feel a little embarrassed about indulging themselves in a few moments of instant gratification. But when people are away from home, this mobile computer is the only one theyive got--and they spend a lot of time waiting around. I think you can serve that market with a lot of different things. You can get people accustomed to the idea thatis itis OK to give themselves permission to have a little fun. And in many cases it can be something productive, educational, or something informative?it doesnit have to be, strictly speaking, playing a game.

[...]

GS: Any similarities with [starting up Digital Chocolate and] what you experienced at Apple?
TH: When I was at Apple, I called up the Computer Science department at the University of California at Berkeley and said: I have this Apple II, why donit you come down and help us figure out some software we can put on it? And they said: Thatis not a computer. They didnit want anything to do with it. Cell phones today are a lot like an Apple II. Itis not everyoneis cup of tea. Some people are excited and inspired and challenged by being out on the frontier and coping with the limitations with the medium, and being excited about overcoming those hurdles. And some people think itis a big turn off.

Thereis much more in the full interview with Mr. Hawkins, and we recommend it as an interesting read. For some related reading, check out Wiredis 1993 article on Trip Hawkins and 3DO.

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