As Apple heads into its third antitrust lawsuit since Steve Jobs's death, it appears the man's e-mail tactlessness is still a sliver in the company's side. (The current class-action lawsuit—which involves alleged anti-trust measures taken by Apple in relation to older iPods—concerns potential damages of $350 million; the company's earnings last quarter were $8.5 billion.) From the New York Times:
Executives are often told by their lawyers to be careful what they put in writing for fear it will end up as evidence in a courtroom. Perhaps Mr. Jobs did not get the memo. His e-mails in past lawsuits — a mix of blunt litigation threats against his opponents and cheery financial promises for potential business partners — have made him an exceptional witness against his own company, even beyond the grave.
As the Times article notes, some e-mails that are already public knowledge are somewhat damning. Here's one concerning the Yahoo!-related MusicMatch, which in 2003 launched its music store to direct competition with iTunes:
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- Steve Jobs died over three years ago, and he's still getting Apple into trouble.
“We need to make sure that when Music Match launches their download music store they cannot use iPod,” he wrote. “Is this going to be an issue?”
More are supposed to come to light during the trial, which started yesterday in Oakland, CA. And this isn't the last case in which Jobs's words will be used as evidence. A 2010 wage case involving Apple and five other Silicon Valley companies, in which e-mails find Jobs allegedly attempting to engage in anti-competition practices with Google and threatening a Palm executive after he rejected a similar proposal, is set to commence in April.
It's a good thing, then, that Jobs never heard about the macabre e-mail app Death Switch, which allows subscribers to relay passwords and other information posthumously. From Wired: "Subscribers are prompted periodically via e-mail to make sure they’re still alive. If they fail to respond, Deathswitch starts firing off their predrafted notes to loved ones."
So really, what could go wrong? The possibilities here are sort of mind-bending, especially with unexpected deaths. Further, redundant systems don't forget (unless of course we're talking an Armageddon-type situation, in which case we've got much worse problems), so how comfortable would you be having loved ones, or at least somebody with Power of Attorney, knowing all your digital secrets? What messages would you pre-draft, and to whom would you pre-send them?