Steve Jobs & The Lost Years

Brent Schlender, a veteran journalist who wrote for Fortune and the Wall Street Journal found some interview tapes that shed new light on Steve Jobs’ life. The highlight of these tapes for me was Pixar and the role it played in shaping Jobs & Apple’s future.

Well, hello Mickey: YouTube gets Disney movies to rent

Winnie the Pooh, Cars, Alice in Wonderland and other Disney and Pixar movies are coming to YouTube, thanks to a new partnership between the mouse-eared Hollywood heavyweight and Google’s video site. Movies will be available for rent through YouTube’s premium content section.

Buy Toy Story 3 at Walmart? Stream It on VUDU

Tomorrow, when Pixar’s Toy Story 3 becomes available on DVD and Blu-ray, any consumer who buys a disc at Walmart will receive a code to download the film to their VUDU-enabled device. According to VUDU, “The future of media has officially arrived, and it is awesome!”

Toy Story 3 Introduces ‘Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear’ With Viral Ad

Pixar’s (s DIS) Toy Story films have always managed to have grown-up appeal, thanks to playing on the feelings of nostalgia we all have for beloved-but-forgotten playthings. But for the upcoming third installment in the franchise, they’ve taken it one step further by introducing one of Toy Story 3‘s newest characters to the Internet with his very own commercial.

So perfectly reminiscent of a 1980s commercial you might find on an old tape that I almost suspect Pixar dubbed it onto VHS and back, Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear is established as a cuddly toy perfect for any girl or boy. He doesn’t have the cane seen on his official Toy Story 3 poster or Ned Beatty’s drawling voice work. Also, something about the “real world” version is slightly off-scale from the animated character. But it’s still adorable. Read More about Toy Story 3 Introduces ‘Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear’ With Viral Ad

Apple at the Oscars

Swapping turtleneck for tuxedo, Steve Jobs (s aapl) made a rare public appearance when he took to the red carpet at the Academy Awards last night, spotted first by eagle-eyed social media maven Wayne Sutton who posted to his blogOMG it’s Steve Jobs! I’m the only one yelling at him! #oscars #kodakredcarpet

Sutton doesn’t mention whether his yells went unnoticed by His Steveness, but he posted a fantastic snapshot of the event to his blog — take a look and see if you can spot El Jobso for yourself (it’s not immediately easy to find him in the crowd, but once you see him, he’s hard to miss!)

Image courtesy of Wayne Sutton

The Theme Begins (Prequel to The Oscar Theme)

Now why would the normally shy and retiring Steve Jobs be at the Academy Awards Oscar ceremony? Well, he is the largest individual shareholder in the Walt Disney Company, to whom he sold Pixar Animation Studios in 2006. Pixar is the legendary computer animation studio responsible for the box office hits Toy Story and Finding Nemo (to name only two of many others) and its latest CG offering, Up, was nominated for an impressive five Academy Awards (and was the first Pixar film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture).
On the night, Up received two of those Oscars; Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score. Steve didn’t take to the stage to receive the awards, but I’m sure he was grinning from ear to ear like a proud father at his child’s first music recital. Read More about Apple at the Oscars

Disney’s Iger Shows Up The Street

uphomeWalt Disney used to say, “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” It’s good to see that ethos is still alive and well at Walt Disney Co. (s DIS). When a bunch of Wall Street analysts and toy retailers expressed doubts about the financial potential of Disney’s new Pixar movie, Up, CEO Robert A. Iger told The New York Times:

We seek to make great films first. If a great film gives birth to a franchise, we are the first company to leverage such success. A check-the-boxes approach to creativity is more likely to result in blandness and failure.

Well said. It is easy to fall prey to a “check the boxes” approach and veer away from the core beliefs and values of your company. If that happens, you’re left with forgettable products that lack vision.

Apple Will Be Just Fine Without Steve Jobs

541321286_7b398dab10_m1Let’s say Steve Jobs retires next year. So what?

I’m one of those in the lonely camp that doesn’t believe Jobs is Apple (s aapl) and Apple is Jobs. Or that when he disengages from Apple the wheels must necessarily fall off.

Jobs bought Pixar in 1986, and while he wasn’t nearly as closely involved with it as he has been at Apple, he assembled a team that helped the company thrive even after it was sold to Disney two years back. Since then, Pixar delivered the Oscar winning “Ratatouille” as well as “Wall-E” (Nos. 144 and 34, respectively, on IMDB’s list).

If Jobs hasn’t done the same at Apple, he’s failed at one of the key tasks of a great CEO. I don’t think that’s his style. Read More about Apple Will Be Just Fine Without Steve Jobs

Vid-Biz: CBSSports, YouTube, “Mapple”

CBSSports.com to Stream SEC Basketball Games Live; select games from the 2008-2009 SEC College Basketball regular season to be shown live online starting Dec. 13. (emailed release)

YouTube Launches Abuse and Safety Center; will focus on providing tips and multimedia resources for dealing with cyberbullying, online harassment and hate content. (YouTube Blog)

Simpsons “Mapple” Clip Generates Nearly 2 Million Plays; the TV show attracted 8 million viewers, while the actual MacBook green ad that appeared during the episode only did 230,000 plays online. (Visible Measures Blog)

CBSNews.com and CNET to Merge Newsrooms; still no word on layoffs or how the web sites will be altered. (paidContent)

Discovery Doesn’t Believe in Long-form Content Online; speaking at a UBS conference, the CEO says there is no business model to support longer shows yet. (Broadcasting & Cable)

Joost Pops Up on DivX Set-Top Box; plug-in allows you to watch video from the web TV platform on your television set. (ZatzNotFunny!)

Create a Flight of the Conchords Lip Dub; contest asks you to lip-synch your version of the “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenocerous.” (Flightlipdub.com)

Off-Topic: What To Watch This Summer: “Wall-E”

My inner nerd is thrilled at the prospect of Pixar’s upcoming movie “Wall-E.” Rich Greenfield, an analyst with Pali Capital who is typically very stingy with praise is waxing eloquent about the movie after watching the preview. In a note to his clients this morning, he writes:

….Investors have been wary of Wall-E’s box office potential given Pixar’s risky bet on an offbeat main character, who rarely speaks during the film. Nonetheless, the film substantially exceeded our expectations and was well-received by the audience.

We believe Pixar hit the mark, delivering a very rich story in Wall-E.: We see the film appealing to younger children who will be drawn to the quirky but extremely lovable characters (especially Wall-E).

The love story between the two main characters and the presence of a solid female character (Wall-E’s love interest, Eve) should also appeal to girls of all ages. Finally, we believe the film will resonate well with older audiences who will find much to like in Wall-E’s character and antics, the love story and the film’s other messages (e.g. the environment).

Our only concern: There is somewhat less action and the pacing is somewhat more measured.

Looks like this could be Steve Jobs’ other big summer blockbuster hit. Sure he doesn’t run Pixar anymore, but he owns a big portion of Disney. Greenfield expects the movie to make $550 million to $600 million (or more) at the box office worldwide, and says it “should be a solid contributor to Disney’s DVD sales in FY Q1 2009.”