In 2005, Steve Jobs' announcement that Apple's computers would be moving from PowerPC to Intel surprised many. OS X had been living "a secret double life" with Intel for five years, said Jobs, but according to a new report from Japan, that life almost included an even more shocking partner — Sony.
"Steve Jobs was willing to make an exception."
Japanese freelance writer Nobuyuki Hayashi, who has covered Apple for over two decades, quotes ex-Sony president Kunitake Ando recalling a 2001 meeting between him and Jobs in Hawaii. After playing a round of golf with other Sony executives, says Ando, "Steve Jobs and another Apple executive were waiting for us at the end of the golf course holding VAIO running Mac OS." Jobs had shut down the Mac "clone" business years earlier but, according to Ando, admired Sony's VAIO line so much he was "willing to make an exception." The timing, however, was bad. Sales of the company's Windows-powered laptops had just begun taking off, and the negotiations to make Mac-compatible VAIO's ultimately came to nothing.
As far-fetched as the story sounds, Jobs had a well-documented respect for Sony, and a good relationship with its executive team. Ando's account of the 2001 meeting corroborates a well-reported anecdote about the secrecy of the Intel team at Apple, which claimed that Apple's ex-SVP of software engineering Bertrand Serlet made the team "go to Fry's and buy the top of the line, most expensive VAIO they have" to demonstrate the possibility of OS X on Sony hardware.
Yesterday, rumors swirled that Sony is planning on selling its VAIO division to a Japanese investment firm. The company acknowledged the rumors, but did not deny them directly.