John Sculley Says TV Market is Apple’s to Lose

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John Scully on Apple TVEven though Apple calls its current TV offering a “hobby,” former Apple CEO John Sculley believes that a move into the TV market is “Apple’s game to lose.” Mr. Sculley was asked his thoughts on an Apple television effort by Bloomberg, and he said that Apple has the tools to do what no one else has been able to do, own the living room.

“They own three screens — the mobile phone, tablet and computer — and you can see how important it is to them to own the fourth, which is TV,” Mr. Sculley said.

Mr. Sculley said that the strength of its ecosystem was a major strength for the company, calling it a “huge advantage.” He said that Apple specialized in both improving the user experience and then keeping that experience consistent across the different devices and services it offers.

“People don’t realize how huge this is,” he said. “Microsoft wanted the living room, Sony wanted the living room, and so far both have failed.”


Rumors and speculation about an Apple TV have been all the rage for at least the last two years. They were raised to a boiling point when Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography was released in October of 2011, shortly after the iconic Apple cofounder passed away.

In that book, Mr. Jobs is quoted as saying that he had “finally cracked [the code]” on how to make a good interface for an Internet-connected TV, de facto proof that Apple was working on something big for the TV market. Mr. Isaacson later said in an interview that he had left out details about the TV project out of respect for Apple’s plans for the market.

Since then, a wide variety of rumors and leaks out of Asia have talked about TV screen sizes, test devices, and ever-present reports that Apple was just about ready to ship something, even though nothing has actually shipped yet.

Bloomberg talked to Mr. Sculley about the topic after renewed rumors from The Wall Street Journal said that Apple was focused on a full featured settop box rather than a full television set. A follow up report said that Apple was going to include a cloud-based DVR that would “erase the distinction between live and on-demand content.”

Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co. threw more fuel on the fire on Friday by issuing a research note that said an Apple TV was in production.

John Sculley

Mr. Sculley is best known for three things: Being hired by Steve Jobs to run Apple, alienating Steve Jobs to the point that Mr. Jobs left Apple to form NeXT Computer, and for championing the Newton handheld computer that Steve Jobs killed when he came back to Apple in 1997.

Mr. Sculley has often spoken very positively about Mr. Jobs since that return, and in September of 2011, he said that Steve Jobs was the only person who could saved Apple.

Also of note in the Bloomberg piece was a minor note about Mr. Sculley not having read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. “I lived it — I don’t need to relive it,” he said.

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John Sculley.  The man who:

(1) “Back stepped” Steve Jobs (i.e. “back stepping” is where you relegate someone to the company’s back door step, hoping they quit in disgrace), and:

(2) brought a half-baked Newton to market, which made a laughing stock of Apple.

Both of which kinda dent Sculley’s credibility as an analyst.


What did he do? Oh yes nearly wrecked Apple and once sold sugar water.


John Scully Says TV Market is Apple?s to Lose

I think you mean former Apple CEO John Sculley.


(2) brought a half-baked Newton to market, which made a laughing stock of Apple.

Pfft, the Newton was awesome, just a bit ahead of its time, and perhaps particularly ill-timed since it came out in 1993 while Netscape Navigator came out in 1994.

However, the ARM (and StrongARM) CPUs developed for the Newton led to amazing success; their descendants power the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, and pretty much every other mobile device on the planet! Apple made hundreds of millions of dollars from its partnership in ARM Ltd.. ARM Holdings how has a $12 billion market cap.

The Paragraph handwriting recognition system was widely maligned, but went on to be included in a variety of other systems including Fujitsu notebooks. It’s the only handwriting recognition system that I’ve ever gotten to reliably recognize my actual cursive handwriting.

NewtonScript demonstrated that a prototype-based, dynamic, object-oriented language inspired by Self, but with Pascal-like syntax could be used to write commercial applications. Subsequently JavaScript was a successful prototype-based, dynamic, object-oriented language, inspired by Self, but with C-like syntax. In 2012, dynamic object-oriented languages like Ruby, Python and JavaScript rule the web.

Newton’s UI gave us the “poof” animation and sound as well as the awesome “crumple and drop into the trash can” animation and sound, not to mention the “tap and hold” gesture.

“Newton Intelligence” was reborn as Apple Data Detectors on the Mac.

Newton’s app-focused file system and object store preceded the iOS file system and Core Data.

Newton also gave us the beautiful Espy Sans bitmap typeface, which migrated to the Macintosh.

The eMate 300’s design led to the design of the clamshell iBooks, as well as the trend of using translucent plastic in the iMac and subsequent devices. It was also Apple’s first low-cost laptop.

Bryan Chaffin

Thanks for catching that, Archimedes. The article has been corrected.


Why someone even bothers to ask that guy anything related to Apple?


Archimedes, thanks for a post positively packed with history & perspective.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Apple soon released a 7.85” tablet named. . . Newton?


Pfft, the Newton was awesome, just a bit ahead of its time?

Hear, hear!

A great machine, especially the MessagePad 2100 incarnation. People who berate the Newton have probably never used the later models to any extent. Way ahead of its time and truly misunderstood.



Many thanks for that summary on the Newton. I particularly appreciate your tracking of the various bits of technology. I think it’s a truism of tech that it seldom ever dies, but is reborn in another guise and into a world of utility undreamt of at its origin.

Like davidneale, I too had the Newton Message Pad 2100. While I agree that the Newton was, in many ways, ahead of its time, certainly in terms of its tech and design, I also think that it was ahead of any coherent product strategy, as well as any integrated plan for the Mac, which was then still the anchor of Apple’s corporate identity and profits. This forever condemned it to a ‘device’ status - worse, a stand alone device - and hence left it vulnerable to shifts in corporate policy, direction or leadership.

I also think that the Newton has served as an object lesson to the industry, and is one reason why MS are skittish about rolling out any product that is not integrated with or supported by Windows.

As for Sculley, he has a s much right anyone to express an opinion; and given his history with the company, right or wrong (and truly, who really knows what Apple, apart from its leadership, is going to do), has a unusual perspective. I often feel as edified by what someone does not say, or seem to grasp, as want they do say and understand.

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