Here’s That Steve Jobs E-Book Email to James Murdoch
That’s an excerpt from an email sent by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to James Murdoch of News Corporation (which owns this site) that figures prominently in the Department of Justice’s looming e-book price fixing case against Apple. The DOJ claims it’s clear evidence that Apple conspired with Murdoch’s HarperCollins imprint and other publishing companies to raise e-book prices and undermine Amazon’s $9.99 e-book pricing model. And, taken out of context, it might be.
But put in context, with the other dozen or so sentences in the message that contained it, that line seems a little less damaging. Certainly, it doesn’t quite imply that the two execs are about to embark on a “caper.” Read as a whole, Jobs’s email doesn’t have quite the conspiratorial tone the DOJ suggests. The late Apple co-founder doesn’t seem to be presenting $12.99 and $14.99 as hard and fast prices, but as price caps in broader pricing tiers. And he openly concedes that the agency model he’s proposing may well fail and that publishers who opt against it may succeed.
“We simply don’t think the e-book market can be successful with pricing higher than $12.99 or $14.99,” Jobs wrote. “Heck, Amazon is selling these books at $9.99, and who knows maybe they are right and we will fail even at $12.99. But we’re willing to try at the prices we proposed. We are not willing to try at higher prices, because we are pretty sure we’ll all fail.”
Now, this is but one piece of evidence in a much larger case. And the DOJ does claim to have other evidence that reflects poorly on Apple, specifically testimony that suggests it used its prowess in the apps market to push reticent partners into signing its e-books deal. But in this particular case, it does seem to have cherry-picked a quote for maximum effect.
In the end, it will be up to the court to decide which interpretation to embrace. Below, Jobs’s email, and below that, the full exhibit from which it’s taken.
- Apple Doesn’t Want to Pay the Feds’ E-Book Lawyer $70,000 a Week
- Apple Files Expected Appeal of E-Book Injunction
- Apple’s E-Book Punishment Court Order is Final, and Not as Bad as Apple Feared
- The Incredible Shrinking Apple E-Book Remedy
- Apple Says DOJ’s E-Book Remedies Are Biased in Amazon’s Favor
- DOJ Softens Proposed Apple Ebook Injunctions, Slightly
- Apple Slams Feds’ Proposed E-Book Remedies as a “Draconian and Punitive Intrusion”
- Apple’s Chances for an E-Book Ruling Appeal Are Lousy, Say Legal Scholars
- Apple E-Books Ruling Won’t Do Much For Consumers
- Apple Loses E-Book Antitrust Trial
- Here’s Apple’s Closing Slide Deck in E-Book Case, and the DOJ’s, Too
- Apple: It’s Time to Close the Book on DOJ’s E-Book Case
- Steve Jobs, Winnie the Pooh and the iBook Launch
- The Apple iBooks Origin Story
- Apple’s Cue Says Publishers Pushed for Higher E-Book Prices
- DOJ Misfires on Jobs Email in Apple E-Book Case — It Was a Discarded Draft
- Is Steve Jobs Message a Smoking Gun in Apple E-Book Case?
- Amazon Demanded Same Terms From Publishers For Which Apple is Now On Trial
- Apple Says Differences in Publisher Deals Belie E-Book Conspiracy Charges
- Apple Accuses DOJ of Unfairly Twisting Steve Jobs’s Words
- Apple Says DOJ Is Trying to “Reverse Engineer a Conspiracy” in E-Books Case
- Here’s the DOJ’s E-Book-Pricing Case Against Apple (Slide Deck)
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: “The E-Book Case to Me Is Bizarre”
- Judge in E-Book Pricing Case Thinks Apple’s Going Down; Apple Begs to Differ
- Here’s That Steve Jobs E-Book Email to James Murdoch
- Apple’s E-Book Argument: Deals With Publishers Improved Competition
- DOJ Filing Calls Apple “Ringmaster” of E-Book Pricing Rise
- Apple Alone Fighting DOJ E-Book Suit After Macmillan Settlement
- Apple’s Cook Must Testify in E-Book Antitrust Suit