A close reading of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' e-mail correspondence.

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July 1 2010 5:11 PM

"Just Avoid Holding It That Way"

A close reading of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' e-mail correspondence.

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Here, Jobs was taking a shot at Google's Android OS, whose built-in app store isn't as tightly managed as Apple's. But his message elides the truth in many ways. Sure, Android's store allows adult material—but both the iPhone and the iPad can access plenty of porn on the Web, so they're not exactly porn-free. Then, as far as I can tell, Apple's store offers no inherent "freedom" from apps that trash your battery; I've downloaded many, many games that make mincemeat of my battery life. Programs that steal your private data? Google has never condoned such programs. I'm not even sure what Jobs is talking about there.

So Steve Jobs sometimes says dumb things, and sometimes he doesn't tell the truth. You know, this sounds like a lot of people I e-mail with regularly. Maybe that's the key to interpreting Jobs' messages: Think of him as that crazy uncle who always forwards you odd conspiracy theories. He's often amusing and sometimes annoying, but you can bet he totally believes what he's saying.

One more thing: I e-mailed Jobs once, a couple months ago, for comment on a story I was working on. I didn't hear back. Maybe you'll have better luck. He's sjobs@apple.com.

Correction, July 2, 2010: According to Fortune, an Apple spokesman has denied the legitimacy of a recently published e-mail exchange allegedly between Apple CEO Steve Jobs and an angry customer. (Slate has contacted Apple and is awaiting a response.) Slate's article originally included two quotes from this disputed conversation: "No, you are getting all worked up over a few days of rumors. Calm down" and "Retire, relax, enjoy your family. It is just a phone. Not worth it." (Return to the revised passage.)

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Farhad Manjoo is a technology columnist for the New York Times and the author of True Enough.