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How Sony missed out on a Steve Jobs-endorsed Vaio Mac OS laptop

Sony Vaio Mac OS X Laptop

Even though upon his return at Apple, Steve Jobs decided against licensing OS X to other computer makers, the exec wanted to make an exception with Sony, a company he deeply admired. Ex-Sony president Kunitake Ando revealed to Japanese reporter Nobuyuki Hayashi in an interview that Jobs wanted Sony to sell a Mac OS-running Vaio laptop in 2001.

The two met in late 2001 in Hawaii, where Sony execs were on Christmas holiday. “Steve Jobs and another Apple executive were waiting for us at the end of the golf course holding Vaio running Mac OS,” Ando said. However, apparently “most of the Vaio team opposed the idea wondering whether such a move was worth pursuing at a time Sony’s laptop family was fully optimized for Windows and was gaining popularity with consumers.

Since then, Apple’s OS X grew stronger and stronger, and, even though it never threatened the market share of Windows devices, it enjoyed impressive sales – even Google requires employees to choose a Mac for business purposes. Meanwhile, PC shipments have decreased at a faster rate than Mac sales, facing tremendous competition from “post-PC” devices including smartphones and tablets. Now, Sony is rumored to sell its Vaio division to Lenovo, the Chinese giant who recently announced its intention of taking Motorola off of Google’s hands.

As for Jobs, the same reporter revealed he was in close contact with Sony execs during the time, was very familiar with the company’s products and visited its headquarters many times. Products such as Sony’s CyberShot camera line and SonyStyle retail store may have further impressed the Apple co-founder and former CEO.

Apparently, Jobs said about a CyberShot camera that “if this thing had a built-in GPS, I can record everything that happens [in] my life.” Ando revealed that “this idea of built-in GPS for camera originated from Jobs.” But Sony also inspired Jobs to further pursue his Apple retail store dreams when Ando told him that SonyStyle stores help the company tell customers what they can do with Sony products. “And that is what we want to do at our retail store.” To this, Jobs replied “and that is exactly what we need.” But Jobs, who was quick to tell his opinion on new Sony products also criticized Sony’s use of discs with the PlayStation Portable, telling Ando that “discs are so out-of-date.”

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.