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Steve Jobs on Sports Illustrated's iPad-like Demo: "Stupid"

How to get on Apple's bad side: Show off Apple's stuff before Apple is ready.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when lots of people who made magazines for a living thought the iPad was going to save their businesses.

And this was before the iPad even existed. In the fall of 2009, every big magazine publisher was talking about their iPad strategy — even though they didn’t know it was going to be called the iPad, or anything else about the tablet, which wasn’t introduced until 2010.

Condé Nast, for instance, showed some people what a tabletized verion of Wired might look like. Time Inc. was even more public with a demo of a digital Sports Illustrated, mocked up for a generic “Time Inc.” tablet that everyone knew was meant to be the Apple iThing.

You can still see it on YouTube:

That clip caused a stir, and has since generated more than a million views. But it reportedly left at least one very important person unimpressed.

Steve Jobs hated the video — and, more important, the fact that it was out in public before he debuted his device. That’s according to sources in Gabriel Sherman’s new story about Time Inc. in this week’s New York magazine.

“Steve Jobs was upset that the company had released the prototype before he had had a chance to reveal the iPad — and a tablet edition of Time — to the world. “I think it’s stupid. Really stupid,” Jobs told Time Inc. executives during a 2010 meeting in New York, when he was asked about the prototype.

Jobs was visiting Time Inc. as part of a tour designed to convince publishers to whip up apps for his new device, which they did.

But things never panned out: Apple and publishers spent a long time haggling over who would have the rights to sell subscriptions for iPad magazines. And by the time that got settled, it turned out many readers, and most advertisers, didn’t want the digital versions anyway.

Now most publishers have tablet editions for multiple machines, and in some cases, it’s a decent-sized business. But not a transformative one.

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