Review: ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ Focuses on Another Apple Era

26 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

10 Bold Moves Steve Jobs Made At Apple.

I haven’t had the opportunity of reading “Becoming Steve Jobs”, the new biography of Steve Jobs that went on sale on Tuesday, but the spirited efforts by the Apple brass to dismiss an earlier authorised biography as just a sloppy rehash is somewhat over the top.Becoming Steve Jobs, by journalists Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, was hailed by Apple as the most accurate and fair representation yet of its famed founder. Apple’s CEO Timothy D Cook has led the charge by saying that the earlier book — “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, which was published shortly after Jobs’ death in 2011 — did a tremendous disservice to the Jobs he knew. Now that the book is out, early impressions and lists of interesting tidbits from the book are hitting the internet, and while many mine the tome for evidence of Jobs’ softer side or insights into the way he ran his company, others shine light on a new set of anecdotes that describe the Apple founder’s infamous short temper.

Although he isn’t the sole contributor of the emergence of Apple at the tech giant, he was the initiator of the trend that is likely to last for years impacting millions of people. We all know Neil Young is a purist when it comes to high-quality audio – with the singer-songwriter recently entering the market with his own high-sample-rate music store and device called Pono – and this naturally put him at odds with Apple when it launched the iTunes music service. Among other things, Cook & company may have been offended by this story in Isaacson’s biography which has earned Jobs the epithet of “control freak’s control freak” – a man who would like to have a say in everything even when death is knocking at his door.

The story goes like this: After a liver transplant in 2009, Jobs tried to persuade nurses to bring him a selection of oxygen masks from which he would choose the design he liked best. Young later tried to smooth things over by offering the gift of a collection of his records on vinyl, a gesture which Jobs apparently did not appreciate. Well done and first to get it right.” Apple’s iBooks account also tweeted last week that Becoming Steve Jobs is the only book about Steve recommended by the people who knew him best. What Cook and his team mates are forgetting is that Isaacson’s book was the result of over 40 interviews Jobs gave to the author, as well from some interviews he won because Jobs had prevailed on people, including his family members, to cooperate with the book.

While many armchair psychologists have speculated that Steve Jobs’ infamous grumpiness and obsessive nature stemmed from resentment over his being adopted, Schlender and Tetzeli tend to disagree. It shows the lengths that Apple is going in its effort to reshape the posthumous image of Jobs as a kinder spirit, rather than a one-dimensional mercurial and brash chief. The authors describe a privileged upbringing in which Jobs’ parents indulged his every whim to the extent that they could afford, even going so far as to move house after he begged to go to a better school: “[He] was really nothing more than a spoiled brat. 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.

Brilliant, precocious, and meticulous, he had always gotten his way with his parents, and had brayed like an injured donkey when things didn’t turn out as he planned.” When Jobs returned to the helm at Apple after a long absence he took over from Gil Amelio, a man widely ridiculed for Apple’s failures during his tenure as CEO. Although Jobs cooperated with him, he asked for no control over what was written, he put nothing off-limits and encouraged people he knew to speak honestly. In 1998, Amelio attempted to buy the Newton assets back off Apple, a move Jobs rejected and called “a sick joke”. “I can be mean, but I could never be that mean,” Jobs is quoted as saying in the book. “No way I would let him further humiliate himself – or Apple.” In 2006 Apple and Disney announced the $US7.4 billion sale of Pixar to Disney, but half an hour before the announcement Jobs confided in Disney CEO Robert Iger about his deteriorating health. By orchestrating grand marketing campaigns, huge engineering feats and massive, cost saving scale-ups Apple is able to offer consumers “simple solutions to complex problems”.

Isaacson has shown while Jobs was capable of rudeness, he had learned how to become an unparalleled strategist and manager and his impatience was part and parcel of his perfectionism. While the authors fact-checked portions of the book with Apple and other sources, and showed the finished volume to the company, Apple wasn’t allowed to have “any editorial input whatsoever”, Tetzeli said. “After a long period of reflection following Steve’s death, we felt a sense of responsibility to say more about the Steve we knew,” Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman, said. “We decided to participate in Brent and Rick’s book because of Brent’s long relationship with Steve, which gave him a unique perspective on Steve’s life. If the Isaacson book ruffled Apple feathers, its executives had better brace themselves for Alex Gibney’s documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine,” which just had its premiere at the South by Southwest festival. More importantly, he was also successful in forging rewarding professional relationships with those he respected, as he believed in the “Beatles concept,” where each member of the iconic band had talents that complemented each other. One of the most extensively reported details of the new book has been that current CEO Tim Cook offered Steve Jobs part of his liver in 2009, but Jobs declined. “”He cut me off at the legs, almost before the words were out of my mouth,” Cook said. ” ‘No,’ he said. ‘I’ll never let you do that.

Meanwhile Bloomberg columnist Justin Fox theorises that Jobs’ action had less to do with selflessness and more to do with the fact he knew Cook would be instrumental to carrying his beloved company forward in the years to come. 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. To a question on his tendency to be rough on people, Jobs didn’t deny the charge but said, “These are all smart people I work with, and any of them could get a top job at another place if they were truly feeling brutalized. But they didn’t.” And as he battled his final illness, Jobs was surrounded by an intensely loyal cadre of colleagues who had been inspired by him for years, apart from his immediate family. 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.

It was his way of preventing what he called “the bozo explosion,” in which managers are so polite that mediocre people feel comfortable sticking around. 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. Foxconn, Intel, DuPont and plenty of other companies bent over backwards putting their best people on Apple’s business, which starved competitors of talent. I’ll never do that!’” Later in the excerpt, Cue of Apple noted that in Jobs’s final years, the Apple chief did everything he could to have people treat him as if he were not sick.

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. Demand uncertainty, which was killing the business in the 1990’s is largely eliminated by controlling all levels of the value chain and using the mega-launch (Jobs owns this one) to force a supply-demand match in time and place.

Apple’s inventory turns blow everyone else off the map and its sales per square foot of retail space are unmatched, mainly because they know how to use the digital supply chain. That was the time, they think, when his impulsive, impractical younger self began giving way to a much more pragmatic visionary, better equipped to lead. They write of how by the time he was forced out, he had lost his sense of practicality as well as some of his best early collaborators, whom he did a fine job of alienating. Jobs, learning he had pancreatic cancer, began fighting for his survival and spoke to graduating Stanford students so eloquently about how that battle had changed him.

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