tv Communicators with Walt Mossberg Part 1 CSPAN June 12, 2017 11:09pm-11:42pm EDT
things. i've reinvented myself a number of points in my career we can talk about it if you want. i've been doing the technical commentary and reviews and columns for about 26 years, this year it will be 26 years. it just seems to me i have some other things i want to do and try and that's why i'm retiring. >> will they involve tech? >> i will never not interested in tech. it's certainly possible that i will pop up occasionally and have something to say in print or on a podcast with a video or something. the folks at fox media where i work now are threatening to try to call me out of retirement from time to time.
and i will probably do it. but i want to do something that maybe is not about it without giving up that explore some other things. >> 26 years ago how did you get into this position? >> i had already been a reporter at "the wall street journal" for 20 years. but the last ten of those years i had been a computer hobbyist, some of the older privative computers that were around at that time, learning how to program, how to slaughter inside of them because you hav had to o that kind of stuff in those days and, you know, i had no computer science background i just kind of got hooked on it, and i realized that although computers have been around for a little while by then, the day were
still not many in the hands of average people, not none, but not many. and then, to master them and be able to get usefulness out of them took way too much time and effort. you have to kind of become a techie. i decided that there was a column in championing average people who never wanted to be and in challenging the companies in the industry to serve those people, so i proposed the column for "the wall street journal" and they bought it so that is why i made the transition. >> the first column of 1991 was about personal computers and how hard they were to use. has that changed over the years? >> it's gotten better for two reasons. one is the industry got the memo and it wasn't just me. there was a bunch of other
people that began to write similar kinds of columns in market forces and other things. they've worked to make it easier and i think the consumers have gotten a little more sophisticated. the real personal computer that people use most today is as you know, not what we think of as a pc or mac that it's your phone and you >> we have seen you can hand it to a child and it's not very hard for the child to figure out. whereas you ask them to type in the command of dos and they couldn't do that. so in that sense, the gap has narrowed tremendously. however, we have new technology coming along all the time. i believe we will see in the next five to ten years a big burst of new stuff.
virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and i think, you know, all kinds of new ways of driving cars. we had a little taste of it but we are going to see a lot more of it, all kinds of things going on in your home and i think there is a gap that will always continue to have to be closed between the engineers and what they think is easy and real people and really what is easy to them. so, why would i just encourage people in my business to keep writing that stuff, to keep things skeptical and keep educating the consumers and pushing the industry. >> we will talk about what you think of the future in a little while. we asked several people around the company and reporters if they had questions since we knew you were coming over.
>> that's great. that makes me happy. >> let's start with one from the director. this kind of talks about today is there a single invention that has changed our lives up to this point? >> you mean is he skeptical -- >> i'm talking about you and your view. >> i guess i would have to say the personal computer as we knew it, whether we are talking about a windows type of computer. the personal computer which, by the way is really only hit the mass market in 1977 i mean, compared to the automobile and airplane and the railroad in all thesandall these other fundamenl things in our lives, this is very young. i recently wrote a column where i pointed out the personal computer is younger than
disneyland, is younger than starbucks. that has changed the world. it's changed every aspect of business, personal life, every aspect of education, religion, everything you can think of. but i think that it's morphed and kind of spread and i think that in the smart phone that you have in your pocket it is in fact the personal computer as i said a few minutes ago it is much more powerful than those first personal computers, for taking different forms i could also answer the question and say the iphone has been a huge things that changed everybody's life and the internet has changed fochanged for goodies le would be right on both of those
points but neither the iphone or intranet or the web could have existed without the personal computer because it is derived from the operating system from a system and lloyd also doesn't theorize from mac. so, these things are all spun off into the web is one of the few parts of the story that was not invented in the united states. it was invented in europe on a computer called the next computer which was a failed
computer company that's never really gained any traction which was created and run by steve jobs after he was thrown out of apple. very expensive, very powerful computer. they sold about ten grand a piece and that's why it didn't succeed. they were way overpriced. but in switzerland at this laboratory, a british engineer researcher and scientist had one of these and that is what he built the web on, the greatest idea for the web. so, all of this comes from the late 70s, early '80s personal computers. >> jeremy was in here taking your picture a minute ago from the media relations department, kind of casually asked before you sat down with the world be
different if steve jobs were still alive? >> if steve jobs were alive and healthy, yeah i think he is one of those guys let me back up, there are a lot of really smart people in many businesses, loads of smart people. i think steve jobs is one of those rare people that comes along and gets into history books because to use an overused word he was perfectly appropriate for him, he was a visionary, yet he was, he became by early 2000 and executive that he wasn't at the beginning. he's always a visionary but not
a business executive to b. he learned how to be a good business executive with a tremendous market. so he had the goods to market and products that were solid. you can be a good marketer and have great products were great products and not know how to market them. he had it all in the sense of design you could understand the engineer so pretty much every month, he was a healthy diet that the world changed in some way. either at apple, primarily but also people forget he ran pixar. he didn't create the movies that he ran the company. i once asked him how he ran apple and pixar at the same time
and he said i do pixar on fridays. this is when it was the most successful studio in hollywood having johnny and hit after giant hit and winning oscars for all these things. people forget that he revolutionized retail. it is the most successful retailer of any kind in america when judged by the dollar volume of sales per square foot or meter however it is measured in the retail industry of the stores. and it wasn't a retailer at all. he had this idea of giving. and it kind of goes on and on. so yes the world would be changing. and he wasn't healthy like he was towards the end he was very feeble and it is amazing how much he did in the years he was ill but until the very end when he was very ill, he just had at
some point it was only about six weeks before he died he gave up being the ceo of apple and he just had to fight for his life. if he were alive and well, yes. do you know bill gates and -- >> i know all those guys. jobs and gates, i spent a lot of time with jobs and a lot of conversations with him over the years. i don't think people know that i had just about as much time with bill gates. and i don't see that to flatter myself. he was just very generous with me. he would see me in his office in his home. took me to dinner once asked him suburban shopping strip the
restaurant. pulled into the backside of a shopping center we went in the door into a restaurant and spent three hours. he appeared at these conferences but i produced with my partner many times including famously dated one together on stage. so i spent a lot of time learning and are giving because i think that is one way that you learn to argue and be a journalist. i've known jeff since well before he started amazon. i've spent less time over the years with him than the other two. it sounds rather ridiculously
statistical but when you are the chief technology columnist for "the wall street journal" for all these years and then you build up your own brand even after you leave "the wall street journal," these kind of people will see you. it's not because they like you or they think you're great. it's not because they think you're smart but because it's the way the world works so lucky for me if you want to go on and talk about mark or any of these, yes i know most of them. >> our ceo has this question what is it like to be an influencer? >> suzanne is an influencer, so she knows. it depends on the day.
if your column is good and you feel like you have the marks he wanted to hit and you said that the things you wanted to say, or if your podcast is good or whatever, then it feels good because you feel like you use whatever influence you have, which is usually overstated by the way, but you use whatever influence you had to, you know, give credit where credit is due on a product or to tell people something or if it is a commentary to make a point. if it is a bad day and you haven't done a good job then you don't feel so good as an influencer. i think the important thing to do, and i know i certainly am not the only influencer in technology, everyone else
whether they are an analyst or journalist you must not let it go to your head. you have to have a goal in mind. mine has always been to champion the average consumers about whatever it is she does in her personal life or business. maybe she's a travel agent, maybe she's a teacher. maybe she's an executive at a big company. it doesn't matter. just this smart phone, watch, digital camera, this whatever it is, she wants it to work and to actually help her do her best
work and she doesn't care what shape is in it or how big the battery is as long as it gets her through the day. if it doesn't, i would say i'm kind of surprised. she would be correct to say i really don't care. i need the ticket through the day. so that's kind of the way that i frame what i've done. >> our other ceo as a follow-up has two questions related. what is a gadget that you thought was a god but it turned out to be a hit and vice versa? what is onwas when you were sure a hit -- >> it's interesting. i thought a phone made by palm
had a good chance to be a hit and it wasn't. and i think a lot of that his execution by the company. so in other words i think they had a great design and it was hard even at that point it would have been very hard to break into the duopoly that now has been cemented by apple and google. but, i think there was still somewhat of an opportunity at that point. i can't remember the year. it was seven or eight years ago, nine years ago, seven or eight. they developed their own fresh operating system and a clever series of phones, and then they
just didn't execute right, they couldn't raise the money. i distinctly remember the marketing was horrifically bad and failed so gave strong reviews but it didn't go anywhere. in terms of a product i like, i didn't like that it went there or became popular but it's a little bit like a movie review. a movie reviewer will say this is a bad movie and it will get a big box office and yet i think a good movie reviewer will say to herself or himself it's not my job to worry about the box office, it is my job to evaluate the movie and tell you whether i think you ought to go see it. you can ignore me and people do it ignore me, certainly, but it's not her job so i cannot
think of one right now, but i'm sure that i said negative things. yes i can give you an example. i gave bad reviews to several versions of windows over the years and they still sold hundreds of millions of copies now compared to other versions of windows they didn't do very well. vista is a good example. it was generally regarded as a big blunder, but it still sold hundreds of millions of copies and they made a lot of money off of it. i wasn't hoping that they would go bankrupt, but you know, if people have followed my advice nobody would have bought it but they did. >> just a follow-up on that was kind of gadgets do you use at
home? >> i'm the wrong person to ask because i have to use a wide variety of things. .. >> i think is still probably th. but i also have several window laptops and several chrome books that i work on. so i keep familiar with everything. i have an ipad, i'm a big ipad fan. i'm a big proponent of ipads.
tablets in general, but really they're not any good tablets in my opinion. there's no tablet that comes close to the ipad. i look to the ipad for not just watching movies or reading books or something, but actually i get work done on an ipad. >> have we hit a low when it comes to battery life? >> no, but give me a minute and i will explain to whites different. so, battery life, partly depends on how efficiently the hardware and software made by samsung or lg, or apple or google, wherever, how efficiently they do their hardware and software. for instance, a lot of people don't know if you have an iphone
or an android phone, that phone is turning off various functions in nano seconds. if it notices you have not used something from the aspect where the phone works with the hardware software, it will turn it off to save battery life. it will turn it on again the minute you are to use it. it happens very fast. that is one of the elements of battery life. the bigger element is the chemical and physical properties of a battery. everything else intact and digital products benefits from moore's law which is the thing that says you can put more product essentially processing power into chips. you can almost double it every 18 months or two years. batteries do not benefit from that.
batteries get more efficient for the space they occupy the density that have. i'm a on a much lower basis. they may be get 3 - 5% better every year. to my knowledge there has been no breakthrough since the lithium ion battery which is, by the way subject to catching fire and exploding if not handled right. we saw that was samsung's note seven this past year. but, it is the most efficient chemical and physical combination for the amount of space it takes up in terms of how much power it generates and how slowly it degrades his charge that we have now. what is used in other electric cars. nobody has come up with an all
new battery. when i did on this a while back i talked to battery experts because i'm not one and they said they did not see anything on the horizon for a new combination. there are different batteries in your regular car are led batteries. there are such things as a zinc battery. used to be nickel cadmium batteries and then nickel and metal hydride. i'm not a chemist. i don't understand all of it. i just know that we got to lithia and i am. there are some variations in for that to get better somebody has to invent a new idea on how to do a battery. the only investment advice i have ever given is that if somebody does and it is safe, not blowing up and it's doing of
magnitude better than i would sell all of your other stocks and by that. >> host: that brings to the point, your code of ethics statements posted and you say that you do not own a single share of stock in any companies whose products i cover or any shares of technology or mutual funds. you do not accept money, free products or anything else of value from the company's whose products you cover. >> guest: i don't. that's why i wrote that. why was it important for us to know that? >> guest: so, long before the current the press is the enemy, the people thing from trump and the whole thing going on now there's been a slow erosion of trust in the press.
even though i don't, politics, used at one time but i do not know. i'm not for long time. i still think it's important for people to have some transparency on how you operate. we have to adhere to a very strict code of ethics. if you want to get rich on the stocks of whatever companies you happen to be covering, i personally think you should not be a journalist. you should be something else where it is not unethical to do that. to be a journalist covering not just tech but whatever, you should not have financial entanglements with it. you should not be accepting favors. so, we had the rules in many places have these rules, many other places have no such rules. why not be transparent to tell the readers what the rules were. so when charis swisher who is
another great journalist from the wall street journal like me, she and i became business partners and we started a business called all things digital. it went inside the company of the wall street journal and we started a website in 2007. we decided that every single writer and editor would produce an ethics statement, including us that when we hire people we made them sell any stock they had and we made them stop taking if they were working someplace i would've made them stop taking free trips, free products, stop taking discounted products and right next to the byline we had a link to an ethics statement just like that.
we did it again when we started our own company and had rico. that ethics statement you printed it out it is still there. >> host: you are retiring in and as editor at large and with rico. we will continue our next week on the communicators. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. it is brought to you today and by your cable or satellite provider. >> c-span's "washington journal", live every day with
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