Jobs’ Personal, Terse Reply to Developer

Gotta love that Steve Jobs. He never was one to hold back, and even now, when he’s the CEO of the Universe (or something like that), he won’t be found spouting corporate speak.

CrunchGear tells the story of a small software development company called The Little App Factory. It made an app for the Mac called iPodRip, one of those tools for transferring music from an iPod to a computer. A law firm representing Apple sent The Little App Factory a letter, informing the company it had violated some of Apple’s trademarks, and instructed it to stop using the “iPod” bit in the app’s name.

iPodRip has been around for nearly seven years and CrunchGear’s Daniel Brusilovsky says it has been downloaded more than five million times. You’d think Apple’s legal sniffer hounds, Baker & McKenzie, might have acted a tad sooner…

Anyway, iPodRip developer and The Little App Factory CEO John Devor felt this was all rather unfair, so he wrote directly to El Jobso himself. Here’s a little excerpt from his impassioned plea for special treatment sanity (edited by me for brevity, but you can read the whole thing here);

Dear Mr. Jobs,

I doubt you’re aware but we recently received a letter from a law firm working on Apple’s behalf instructing us that we had violated several of Apple’s trademarks in our application iPodRip and asking us to cease using the name and Apple trademarks in our icons.

It is quite obvious that we mean Apple no harm with the use of the name iPodRip, or of the inclusion of trademarked items in our icons… …we are quite aware that Apple support and store staff have recommended our software on numerous occasions as far back as 2004 so we have felt that we were doing something right!

With this in mind, we are in desperate need of some assistance and we beseech you to help us to protect our product and our shareware company, I myself dropped out of school recently to pursue a path in the Mac software industry, and you yourself have been a consistent inspiration for me.

If there is anything at all you can do with regards to this matter, we would be most grateful.

John Devor

Poor fellow. Obviously he has poured his heart and soul into his company, and he has worked hard this last half-decade building a strong brand and large customer base. He wants to protect his investment, and why not? Apple has, it seems, been aware of the product, to some degree, for an awfully long time, so why slap him with a C&D letter now?

So Steve Jobs gets the email and thinks about this, right? He considers the years of service this guy and his company have provided for iTunes users around the world. He considers carefully the late-in-the-game complaint from Baker & McKenzie. He feels a swell of pride at the obvious passion of those in the Mac development community who so loyally support his products and strive to make the Mac ecosystem a bigger, brighter and more worthwhile place to be. Right?

Of course not. He’s Steve Jobs, people! This is his reply:

Change your apps name. Not that big of a deal.


Sent from my iPhone

I nearly fell off my chair in laughter when I saw that. I’m not sure I agree with him that’s it’s “not that big of a deal” (after all, this company has invested many years in their brand and built a considerable customer base) but I admire Steve’s no-nonsense attitude. He says exactly what’s on his mind, no PR-spin, and sends it straight from his iPhone, typos-and-all.

The Little App Factory acquiesced (what else could it do?) and renamed the app iRip. It also changed the app’s icon. Perhaps this whole affair was a thorn in the side, but I don’t feel too sorry for them, the tech press is giving them a lot of attention right now, and that’s gotta be good for business, right?