Oct. 2, 2007: Steve Jobs to Bertrand Serlet

“A wildly important bit of ephemera that underpins the entire app ecosystem era.”

From Matthew Panzarino’s “This one email explains Apple” posted Friday on Recode:

An email has been going around the internet as a part of a release of documents related to Apple’s App Store-based suit brought by Epic Games. I love this email for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that you can extrapolate from it the very reasons Apple has remained such a vital force in the industry for the past decade.

The gist of it is that SVP of Software Engineering, Bertrand Serlet, sent an email in October of 2007, just three months after the iPhone was launched. In the email, Serlet outlines essentially every core feature of Apple’s App Store — a business that brought in an estimated $64 billion in 2020. And that, more importantly, allowed the launch of countless titanic internet startups and businesses built on and taking advantage of native apps on iPhone.

Forty-five minutes after the email, Steve Jobs replies to Serlet and iPhone lead Scott Forstall, from his iPhone, “Sure, as long as we can roll it all out at Macworld on Jan 15, 2008.”

Cue the email:

apple steve jobs bertrand serlet

Crisp, lean communication that does not coddle or equivocate, coupled with a leader that is confident in their own ability and the ability of those that they hired means that there is no need to bog down the process in order to establish a record of involvement… This efficacy is at the core of what makes Apple good when it is good. It’s not always good, but nothing ever is 100% of the time and the hit record is incredibly strong across a decade’s worth of shipped software and hardware. ..

All in all, this exchange is a wildly important bit of ephemera that underpins the entire app ecosystem era and an explosive growth phase for internet technology. And it’s also an encapsulation of the kind of environment that has made Apple an effective and brutally efficient company for so many years.

My take: Loving the stuff that got shaken out by discovery. Kudos to those searching through it.

6 Comments

  1. Ken Cheng said:
    I always liked Bertrand Serlet. Thought he was a small possibility to take over for Steve, but he retired from Apple.

    0
    June 4, 2021
  2. George Row said:
    The three of them had worked together at NeXT and been working together for ten years at Apple when this exchange took place.

    Between the lines of Betrand’s email is a clear implication of:
    “we are going to do this the right way THIS time”.

    4
    June 4, 2021
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Two corollaries:

    1) Apple’s top leaders inspire brilliant innovators to create. There’s more to come

    2) Even after great ideas become products or services, few analysts understand how powerful…until many years later. Some still don’t have a clue.

    9
    June 4, 2021
  4. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    “My take: Loving the stuff that got shaken out by discovery.”

    Let it shake.

    Just a gut-guess and I might be a tad preemptive, but I’ll bet Epic (and the rest of the world for that matter) didn’t find as many skeletons-in-the-closet, nor smoking-guns as such a powerful and large company as Apple “certainly MUST” have all piled up behind their pristinely quiet corporate curtain. (This isn’t to say that any/every company or person is void of any — quite the contrary.)

    Yet it remains patently true that the truth shall set you free — AND apparently disclose some visionary nuggets in it’s wake.

    😉

    Court Karma?

    1
    June 4, 2021
  5. Bart Yee said:
    “And it’s also an encapsulation of the kind of environment that has made Apple an effective, focused, and relentlessly efficient company for so many years.”

    FIFY. Good leadership bring great results. Great leadership a la Jobs, Cook, Maestri, Williams, Ive, et. al., brings fantastic results. And Apple’s focus on User First shows how that creates loyal users that allows for everything else that follows.

    1
    June 5, 2021
  6. Joe Murphy said:
    @ “we are going to do this the right way THIS time”.

    George, which products/services do you think Serlet was referencing?
    Perhaps the Newton? Licensing Mac OS? Maybe it was Next but I’m not sure how Next could have been handled significantly better.

    I suspect the possibility of either (1) becoming bigger than Apple or (2) leading Apple to bring Steve back in the fold as Steve’s intended outcomes.

    What do you think?

    0
    June 5, 2021

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