Apple’s fight to protect Steve Jobs’ legacy distracts from running the company …

27 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple wants to rewrite history: The demented scheme to make Steve Jobs a saint.

On Tuesday, Schlender and co-author Rick Tetzeli published a new biography, Becoming Steve Jobs, that is widely viewed as a counterpoint to Walter Isaacson’s bestselling authorized biography, published three weeks after Jobs’ death, which portrayed Jobs as brilliant but temperamental. Isaacson’s book was filled with evidence of Jobs’ famous character flaws — the fierce temper, the capacity for contradictions and self-deception. “I’d seen so much more, so many more sides of Steve,” says Schlender, who covered the late Apple CEO for The Wall Street Journal and Fortune for 25 years. “I always thought there was a broader story to be told just because my experience was so different than the official biographer, who came in during a concentrated period of time.” Schlender set out to paint a nuanced picture of Jobs as a man who learned to grow up. Though Cook eventually proved skeptics wrong — just check out iPhone 6 sales and Apple’s record-breaking $700 billion valuation last month — it wasn’t a smooth ride, including a public meltdown of the buggy Apple Maps app in 2012.

His book portrays Jobs’ evolution from mercurial entrepreneur into a disciplined and more empathetic leader, influenced by his time in Apple exile and his struggle to make peace with his past and grow his own family. “After a long period of reflection following Steve’s death, we felt a sense of responsibility to say more about the Steve we knew,” an Apple spokesperson told The New York Times. (Reps for Apple did not immediately respond to our request for comment.) Several top Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook and chief designer Jony Ive, have loudly criticized the existing canon of works on Jobs and publicly endorsed Schlender’s work. Rather, there are multiple stories, and in his case, deeply polarized takes on his managerial style, interpersonal relationships and approach to life and business. Yet to hear Apple brass tell it, Walter Issacson’s bestselling biography “Steve Jobs,” authorized by Jobs himself, was essentially false, while the new biography “Becoming Steve Jobs: The Revolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader” by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, is, instead, the gospel truth. In the book, executives take aim at another title, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, an authorised biography published shortly after Jobs’s death in 2011. According to the authors, “Steve would rehearse endlessly and fastidiously.” The book contains exclusive behind-the-scenes photos of Jobs, alone on stage, reviewing scripts the day before a MacWorld keynote.

In another photo Jobs is sitting off to one side of the stage watching Apple vice president Phil Schiller practice his portion of a presentation. “Rehearsals for product presentations were always intense.” Bill Gates appeared at some of the events along with Jobs. “I was never in his league,” Gates told the authors about Jobs’ presentation skills. “I mean, it was just amazing to see how precisely he would rehearse. He and Tetzeli were “two-thirds” of the way through the book before Apple finally agreed to make its executives available for interviews. “There’s a downside to their support,” Tetzeli says of the recent backing from the Jobs faithful. “It makes this book seem like it was authorized by them or that it was their intention all along to offer a counter to a book they apparently didn’t like.” Apple has a reason for playing favorites with Jobs’ biographers. He says he was “warned” by Apple insiders that “any criticism” of the company would be considered “apostasy.” The company declined to grant him access to employees or even just archival materials.

It’s telling to me that Cook told Schlender and Tetzeli (as quoted in Wired) of Isaacson’s book, “You get the feeling that he’s a greedy, selfish egomaniac. In another sign of the company’s implicit approval of the biography, the writers will discuss the book and field questions about it today at the Apple store in Soho in New York. But then he’s on, and it’s quite an amazing thing.” “I mean, his whole thing of knowing exactly what he’s going to say, but up on stage saying it in such a way that he is trying to make you think he’s thinking it up right then…” Gates said before he trailed off and laughed as he recalled the moment. Jobs wrote the speech himself and walked around the house for days, reciting it over and over. “The kids watching their dad spring past them in the same kind of trance he’d sometimes enter in the days before MacWorld. Several times he read it to the whole family dinner.” On the morning of June 16, 2005, Steve Jobs woke up with butterflies in his stomach. “I’d almost never seen him more nervous” Jobs’ wife Laurene recalls.

The book captures Steve better than anything else we’ve seen and we are happy we decided to participate.” A handful of influential tech bloggers received early copies of the book, including John Gruber, who wrote on his website Daring Fireball that the book was “smart, accurate, informative, insightful and at times, utterly heartbreaking”. The Times may have ignored Jobs’ initial denial of paternity of Lisa, but Schendler and Tetzeli note in their book, “When people debate whether Steve was a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ man, this is the strongest indictment against him.” They, at least, acknowledge that to call someone a “good” or “bad” person is to form an opinion.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, a Fortune writer, said in a blog post that Schlender’s long relationship with Jobs helped distinguish the new book from past titles about the Apple chief. “It’s through Schlender’s stories, freshly told, often from taped interviews, that we get to know Steve Jobs as Schlender knew him,” Elmer-DeWitt wrote. Once they arrived at the venue a guard didn’t quite believe that the man riding shotgun—wearing “tattered jeans, Birkenstocks, and an old black T-Shirt”—was the commencement speaker. In an interview, Isaacson, chief executive of the Aspen Institute and a former managing editor of Time, said he had tried to take a balanced view of Jobs that did not sugarcoat the Apple co-founder’s flaws. In the introduction to Steve Jobs, Isaacson wrote that Jobs, who had handpicked him as biographer, didn’t try to exert any control over the book, except for weighing in on the cover. Isaacson said he was pleased to see more biographies and movies – a documentary on Jobs recently debuted at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, and a biopic featuring Irish actor Michael Fassbender as Jobs is also in the works – that would help the public’s understanding of Apple’s former leader. “It’s really cool that there are other books coming out by people who knew Steve and where those who really loved him can put forth their views, because that’s how history is made,” he said.

Over the past six months, Apple executives have been on an extensive media campaign to promote new retail stores, the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, a new mobile payment service. But it’s emphatically untrue that he wasn’t a great human being, and that is totally not understood.” What Cook misses is that being a “great human being” is not something that can ever be true or untrue. Moreover, it’s exceedingly possible that Jobs was both a passionate perfectionist and someone who on more than one occasion was not what most of us would call a “nice person.” It doesn’t negate his business legacy to admit that he had qualities that were far from admirable, and by extension, those who were mistreated by him have also managed to laud him. Kane said the colourful remarks from Apple executives about Isaacson’s book reflect a looser discipline at the company. “Jobs was a mastermind at controlling the narrative on Apple and one of the ways he did that was to make sure that he was the sole spokesperson and that officially, at least, the company stayed above all the fracas,” Kane said. When I reviewed Brennan’s book, what struck me most weren’t the anecdotes about Jobs’ appallingly callous behavior, but instead, her descriptions of his unique approaches to everyday tasks, such as “Completely engaged, he strained to collect and calculate, peering into the TV as if he was trying to see around doorways and through walls.

When I interviewed astronaut Chris Hadfield who became a social media sensation with his weightless version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, I complimented him on his TED talk and the strength of his delivery. “I’ve been speaking for about 25 years,” he reminded me. Writing for The Daily Beast, Marlow Stern called Alex Gibney’s upcoming documentary “Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine,” “a viciously one-sided examination of a remarkably complex individual” before adding, “If you want the full picture, read the book.” That book? Cue has become a vocal defender of Jobs’s legacy, too, and he took to Twitter recently to criticise the filmmaker Alex Gibney’s new documentary about the former Apple chief as “an inaccurate and mean-spirited view of my friend. Although he had an early flair for the dramatic— as anyone who has watched him pull the first Macintosh out of a black bag can attest—there’s no question his comfort level on stage improved over time.

I’m not obtuse enough that I don’t understand why Cook would make these claims, or why Apple design chief Jonathan Ive would tell The New Yorker “My regard couldn’t be any lower” for Isaacson’s book. Carmine Gallo is a communication coach, keynote speaker, and author of seven books, including the international bestseller: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.

As far as I can tell, facts are not being disputed by Apple, but rather the order in which they are told and arranged, the context and subtext for them. No reader should expect “the whole truth” from any work of nonfiction, be it memoir, biography or history because (gasp!) there is no such thing as a singular, definitive truth about anyone. The sale of a building in the Dublin docks to U2 in 2013 was at a fair market price and was not a “secret deal”, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority has told a Dail committee. Having multiple, well-researched books on the topic of Jobs should serve as a boon to Apple followers, rather than the pick-a-side book battle it’s become. At the time the authority planned to knock the waterside buildings down so as to create an open campshire space but in the event the project never went ahead.

In 2013, as part of its process of selling off its assets before being subsumed into Dublin City Council, the authority sold number 18 Hanover Quay to U2 for €450,000. Dublin deputy Joe Costello described the sale price as a “very small sum considering the location” and the sale process as a “behind the scenes” deal that was done in a “very secretive fashion”.

The chairman of the Dail Committee on Public Accounts, John McGuinness, said the price looked low when compared with the €55,000 to €60,000 per annum rent U2 were paying for the use of the building. Committee member Gabrielle McFadden said she felt “extreme discomfort” about the deal and said she believed €450,000 was “way below” the market value in 2013.

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