Apple's Eddy Cue Details Steve Jobs Interest in iBooks

Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Services, took the stand one more time on Monday in the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust suit against the company. Mr. Cue was questioned by Apple's attorneys about the process of building the iBooks app, the iBookstore, and he talked extensively about the role of the late Steve Jobs in those processes.

True CompassFrom that testimony (courtesy of Fortune's Philip Elmer-Dewitt and AllThingsD's Peter Kafka) we learned that it was Steve Jobs who picked the interactive Winnie-the-Pooh title that Apple offered for free when it launched iBooks. It was also Steve Jobs who chose the Teddy Kennedy biography True Compass as the title that Mr. Jobs would purchase on stage at the iPad launch event.

As a sidenote, during cross examination, the DOJ's attorneys highlighted the fact that on the day of that launch event True Compass was priced at US$14.99 on the iBookstore, while it was still $9.99 on Amazon.

Mr. Cue also explained that Steve Jobs was very involved in the development process of both the iBooks app and the iBookstore itself. He received weekly updates on progress, commented on comps, and then pored over the app at the pixel level when new builds came out. He also came up with ideas between his weekly updates.

One of Mr. Jobs's ideas was having the page-curl animations when turning pages in a book. This is one of those skeuomorphic design elements Mr. Jobs championed within Apple, and one of the things he highlighted during the iPad launch event in 2010 (embedded below the fold).

But I Like This Example...

On a personal note, this is a skeuomorphic element of iOS that I personally hope remains intact when iOS 7 ships later this year. Leather covers and stitching and reel-to-reels can all go by the wayside—even the wooden book shelves in iBooks can go—but Apple's efforts to translate the book experience in iBooks is one of the reasons reading on the iPad is so enjoyable.

Also, Mr. Cue couldn't recall if Steve Jobs came up with the name "iBooks," but he did at least personally approve it. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone familiar with Mr. Jobs's control process when it came to developing new products at Apple.


Great, so we have all these details. Long-term Apple watchers and fans of Steve Jobs will enjoy the added context of knowing some of these things. The question, however, is why did Apple's attorneys spend its time with Eddy Cue talking about them.

If it were a jury trial, the quick assumption would be that Orin Snyder—Apple's lead attorney in this fight with the DOJ—wanted to tug on the heartstrings of that jury. Something like, "You love Steve Jobs. We all love Steve Jobs. Can you really find it within yourself to tear down something so important to him?"

This isn't a jury trial, though; it's a bench trial. It will be decided by the judge overseeing the case, Judge Denise Cote, a highly respected jurist who has presided over an untold number of lawsuits over the years. She will be deciding the case on law, not emotion. Indeed, she let both sides know before the trial began that she believed the DOJ would like be able to make its case against Apple.

Apple's attorneys are top-notch, and they stepped through this process for a reason—they had one of Apple's most important executives come back for a second day of testimony following a three day break in the trial for a reason.

Perhaps it will be a something they discuss in closing arguments? We'll know in a few days if that's so. From here it's hard to understand how Steve Jobs's role in skeuomorphic design and his choice in books plays into Apple's defense that it was looking out for its own interests rather than leading illegal collusion amongst publishers to raise book prices.

As it is, Mr. Cue's testimony Monday garnered little coverage outside of the two articles we sourced above.

Steve Jobs's iBooks rollout in full: