The Innovator’s Dilemma

Raw data: Steve Job's 2010 'Holy War with Google' memo

April 5, 2014: 9:24 AM ET

The full text of the e-mail in which Steve Jobs lays out his final hopes and fears for Apple.

Jobs in October 2010

Jobs in October 2010

FORTUNE -- In October 2010 Steve Jobs wrote a memo to Apple's (AAPL) executive team outlining the points he wanted covered at that year's Top 100 -- the secret off-site meeting of the 100 employees he viewed as most critical to the company's success.

Introduced as Defendant's Exhibit No. 489.245 in the $2 billion Apple patent infringement trial that began this week, the memo offers a rare glimpse into the hopes and fears of Apple's co-founder at the start of what would turn out to be the last year of his life.

"Who are we?... "What do we do?" it begins, before laying out what Jobs saw as the biggest challenges facing the company.

Chief among them, he wrote, was the "Holy War with Google... all the ways we compete with them."

That, he wrote, is the "primary reason for this Top 100."

"We invented the digital hub concept," he planned to tell the troops, in which the personal computer became "the center for all your digital assets -- contacts, calendars, bookmarks, photos, music, videos."

But the digital hub -- the center of Apple's universe -- was moving from the PC to the cloud, and Apple was in danger of  "hanging on to [the] old paradigm too long (innovator's dilemma)."

That parenthetical phrase at the end was a pointed reference to Clayton Christiansen's classic book on how industry leaders get overtaken by more nimble competitors. Jobs, it seems, was well aware of the mortal risks his company faced.

But he had a plan. Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT), he wrote, were further along on the technology, but hadn't yet figured how to tie all of their products together.

The trick, he said, was to "further lock customers into our ecosystem," and the rest of the memo outlines how he hoped to do that. It includes (I quote):

  • catch up to Android where we are behind (notifications, tethering, speech, ...) and leapfrog them (Siri, ...)
  • catch up to Google cloud services and leapfrog them (Photo Stream, cloud storage)
  • leap even further ahead of Google in music
  • stay in the living room game and make a great "must have" accessory for iOS devices

Jobs' Top 100 e-mail may turn out to be the most important document to emerge from Apple v. Samsung II. We've reproduced it in full below.

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Steve Jobs memo

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