This sounds like a campfire folk tale, but here goes. A new report claims Apple—Steve Jobs, specifically—approached Sony about putting OS X on VAIO computers. The former Apple CEO allegedly admired Sony’s VAIO line so much that he was willing to strike a deal, despite Apple shutting down its Mac “clone” business many years earlier. Jobs even demoed Apple’s desktop OS running on a VAIO to demonstrate how everything would look. And it was super close to happening, too, according to the report.
The information comes from ex-Sony president Kunitake Ando, via Japanese freelance writer Nobuyuki Hayashi. In 2001, Jobs and some Apple executives were playing a round of golf with some execs at Sony, and at the end of the 18th hole, that’s when Jobs pitched the idea, “holding [a] VAIO running Mac OS.” Jobs allegedly told Ando he was “willing to make an exception” and put Apple’s OS on its VAIO line—and it could have worked if not for the unfortunate timing.
Jobs’s proposition came just as VAIO sales were taking off in the international market, meaning Sony didn’t have the resources to work on an OS X version of the computer. Imagine how Sony’s VAIO brand would have been shaped had it gone down the Apple route. Ando’s account actually lines up with OS X’s so-called “double life” as it was transitioning over from PowerPC to Intel; Jobs made a formal announcement of the transition in 2005. Jobs apparently greatly admired Sony, and was often seen visiting the Japanese company’s campus.
Hayashi also mentions how interested Jobs was in Sony’s camera division—he liked to ask executives lots of questions—and how Jobs often shared his opinion on new Sony products, including the PSP. According to Ando, the inclusion of GPS in Sony camera products originated from Jobs. Meanwhile, Ando believes Jobs got the idea for Apple retail stores from him after having a discussion about Sony’s retail business.
Hayashi’s report is fascinating, and sheds more light onto the relationship between Apple and Sony, and the mutual respect between the two companies. Had Sony been able to hit the market with an OS X VAIO, who knows how its PC brand would be shaped today. For that matter, where would Apple’s famous Mac lineup, which just turned 30, stand?