Jobs at D: "Great Things" Coming; Jabs at Yahoo Music Service

In addition to his announcement of a new version of iTunes with support for Podcasts, Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs told a group of technology leaders and journalists Sunday that Apple is working on "great things" for the future and predicted Yahoo! canit sustain the cheap prices its charging for its online subscription-based music service.

Mr. Jobs made his comments during his keynote address at the Wall Street Journalis D Conference Sunday night outside San Diego, Calif. An invited guest, who asked not to be identified, told The Mac Observer of specific topics and quotes from the almost two-hour open conversation, in which Mr. Jobs fielded a range of questions from the audience.

Jobs talks iTMS and phones

"Weive got a lot of great things in the lab," Mr. Jobs said when asked by conference host and Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walter Mossberg, "Is this the year (the iPod phenomenon) collapses?"

Appleis co-founder refused to take the bait of that question and many others. Mr. Jobs stayed positive in his comments that the company is confident it has the right "formula" for its online music service and will continue to expand and grow the service. He refused to predict the future of the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) as it relates to additional content, such as downloadable television shows and movies.

When asked if Apple planned to release its own iPod-equipped cellular phone, Mr. Jobs commented, "Weive got lots of good stuff that I canit talk about it."

Mr. Jobs confirmed reports of a soon-to-be-released mobile phone with the capability of downloading and playing music from the iTMS, but cautioned that such a device and service will not have the flexibility and features of a standalone digital media device, like the Apple iPod and iPod mini.

Yahoo service worth watching

Mr. Jobs took a few jabs at Yahoois recently announce subscription-based music service, calling it "interesting" and "an experiment" worth watching.

"Weire going to keep an eye on the Yahoo thing," he said, but predicted Yahoo canit make money at its current pricing. Mr. Jobs quipped that Apple employees -- he among them -- have a betting "pool" as to when Yahoo will raise its pricing. Mr. Jobs is betting Yahoo will raise its price after five months.

The Yahoo Music Unlimited service costs US$4.99 a month and allow users unlimited downloads from a library of more than 1 million songs. Users will then be able to play songs on their computers or on digital media devices that use Microsoftis Windows Media format. As a result, the service will not be compatible with Appleis line of iPod devices.

The biggest difference between the new Yahoo service and iTMS is that Apple charges 99 cents a song for permanent downloads from its 1.5-million-song catalog, while Yahoo will "rent" the access to its library as long as the consumer continues to pay a monthly fee.

Jobs jab?

According to a TMO source at the conference, everyone was talking after the Jobs address about an earlier scene when the Apple CEO asked those on hand who owned an iPod. Estimates were some 50% of the people in the room raised their hands, minus Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. Seeing the numbers were in favor of the iPod, Mr. Jobs looked at Mr. Gates and said, "Bill, do you have your hand up?"

"Microsoft employees were less than pleased by what Steve (Jobs) did," the source said. "One Microsoft executive told me over drinks, iJobs did that on purpose. He knew exactly what he was doing and tried to embarrass Bill (Gates).i"