Yet another fascinating story of Apple lore. I find it kind of hilarious that Jobs said he hated “iMac” or “MiniMac” and preferred “MacMan”. I suspect he wasn’t exactly the visionary he’s portrayed as. If I did a film about him, I think I’d make it a comedy: from acid trips to his extreme behaviors and practices he managed to build an empire and become who he wanted to be. But, I don’t think he was that person all along as legend has it. -Waveybrain
So far…He was more of a jerk than I had ever imagined. He did more LSD than I thought; his hygiene was bad-especially in his early years; he lied, cheated, and stole in varying ways; he was allegedly socially inept, yet could be charismatic and persuasive seemingly at will (maybe because people feared and admired him)-that was surprising: he always seemed charismatic to me. One of his ex’s said that he was an ‘enlightened, yet cruel being’, which is about as contradictory as one could be. Actually, I wonder if he actually had some form of Asperger’s syndrome, because he seemed extremely focused on particular things yet oblivious about other sometimes more important things. I think some of the more disappointing discoveries have been how he treated some of the most loyal friends he had, including Woz. That is explained by his angst about being “abandoned” himself and put up for adoption. But, some of the things he did were inexcusable. So far I see him more as an extremely focused and frenzied visionary who was good at making talented people do things that wouldn’t have happened without his orchestration-very much like Walt Disney actually: he couldn’t have done it without the ‘A Team’ players, and Jobs and Disney both were good at garnering all the accolades for the achievements of their teams, until they established themselves enough to share the “wealth”. Jobs regarded himself as an artist, and he toiled over details. But, two examples of the extent that he tinkered and sweated the details revolved around the Macintosh (1984) computer, and later the logo for “NeXT” which he paid Paul Rand $100k a flat fee for (http://clothesbeforehoes.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/next_logo_clothesbeforehoes-655x436.jpg). In my opinion neither stands the test of time as exceptional ‘works of art’-they both look dated. So, in that sense my admiration for his sensibilities has diminished. It looks like Jonathan Ive really deserves the credit for the big turnaround of the aesthetic of Apple products, which to my mind is 80% of the equation. I’m hoping the book takes a turn and reveals some redeeming characteristics or stories about the man. I can’t help admiring his drive, and pursuit of perfection. I keep wondering if those more negative traits were necessary to achieve what he did. On the flip side, I admire Steve Wozniak even more now. I haven’t seen or read anything at all that puts him in a bad light: he was humble, humorous, principled, and generous throughout those years despite being undervalued.
Here’s a segment I just found of the NeXT group talking strategy at couple different retreats. I think Jobs was really in his prime at this stage. He had just spun out of his biggest personal achievement, the Macintosh. He was roiling about his ouster and determined to prove himself. I think the Steve Jobs in this short is the one everyone recalls. It seems Isaacson watched this video because it’s pretty much outlined in the book. I had never seen it before and it’s interesting to see Jobs play out pages from the book. The book really casts him in a negative light, but none of that is evident in this video: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOlqqriBvUM&feature=player_embedded)
EDIT: I might have to redact what I think about the design of the original Macintosh. The materials do seem of their time, but then I saw the image on this link (http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665620/stylectrical-new-exhibit-explores-the-heritage-of-apples-designs) and have to admit that it’s pretty faultless and still oozes character, and that might in fact be a timeless design to Job’s credit.
An interesting synopsis of “Who Will Win”. I think it’s clear: As much as I love Apple and what they have done, let’s face it: Jobs and Wozniak are Apple. And, they are both gone. [EDIT: Here’s an interesting interview with Wozniak and he also felt that Apple products embodied Jobs: (http://realdanlyons.com/blog/2011/10/11/a-conversation-with-woz/]) Facebook? Zuckerberg is hard to like and un-trustworthy. Amazon??? Is Amazon a contender? I love Amazon too, but Bezos simply isn’t as smart as the rest (could be wrong though…Amazon is my wildcard of the grouping). That leaves Google which like Apple, is it’s founders (who are young and healthy). They are associated with “Do no evil”: Google will win. Unless, someone new comes along who’s a trustworthy and principled founder as Steve Jobs was (arguably, I concede).
They really should change the logo to this. Aside: just heard Walt Mossberg (on Bloomberg) say that Job’s didn’t like “orifices”-meaning intermediaries like phone carriers. ”He didn’t like to link things that had to go through orifices.” That’s one thing I loved about him/Apple: he did disrupt markets and kick the orifices of establishments who bilk their end users.
Just heard the news. What an inspirational figure. I wish there was an in-depth contemporary interview with the man that told more about what was in his great mind.
Just watched the keynote for the 4Gs (not the unimaginable groundbreaker anticipated, but still amazing). I couldn’t help noticing all the similarities between Steve Jobs and Tim Cook-it’s uncanny! Their facial structures are so similar: Cook has slightly softer features, but the proportions and general shapes are amazingly similar. In looking for a comparable shot of Jobs, I noticed that most of the images I found of him giving a keynote had an underlying pridefulness. Whereas, throughout the keynote Cook seemed to be emulating him, but looked mostly…devoid of emotion. Maybe the 4Gs wasn’t as unimaginably groundbreaking to him either to warrant a prideful glow. Interesting.
“Will other entrepreneurs be able match his record? We talk with people who’ve studied and known Steve Jobs.” Here is the best conversation (beginning around the 9min marker) I’ve heard regarding Steve Jobs stepping down and how it might impact Apple down the road.
Why was it that the best run companies in the world — companies that have had incredibly smart leaders, following carefully detailed plans and with tremendous execution ability — reliably seem to come unstuck? The answer to this question is what has become known as the theory of disruption. In a cruel twist of irony, the pursuit of profit — something that Wall Street pushes so hard — is what leaves companies open to being displaced. As they grow, their ability to find opportunities that are big enough to sustain their growth is reduced. They become myopic; they listen only to their best customers. They focus disproportionately on their most profitable products, and strive to improve these the fastest. What has made Apple so different is that instead of having a profit motive at its core, it has something else entirely. Many big companies like to pretend this is the case — “we put our customers first” — but very few truly live by that mantra. When the pressure is on and the CEO of a big public company has to choose between doing what’s best for the customer or making the quarter’s numbers… most CEOs will choose the numbers.
Apple never has.
In the 80’s my best friend’s dad worked for Apple. We learned to surf together. Actually, his dad was so cool that he’d drive inland a couple miles to pick me up so I could surf with them. One day he brought home an Apple IIe. That was the first computer I had ever seen. There was something intriguing about it, but being only 11, I had no idea what it was for. I do remember a primitive drawing or painting app. When other kids were putting O’neill stickers on their surfboards, my friend proudly had a big rainbow Apple sticker on his. It looked kind of gay:) Later, when my engineer uncles both proudly displayed their Commodore 64s, I was wise enough to know that there was something better out there. Cut to last year when I gave my dad an iPad; he looked at the apple logo and recalled that he was going to work for them in the 80’s were it not for his undermining supervisor at the airline who gave him a bad recommendation, despite earlier pleading with him not to switch departments because, ‘he was his best worker’-DOE! How life changing would that have been had he worked for Apple??
I don’t know who I admire more: Wozniak or Jobs? One seems kind of oblivious and modest, the other focused and driven. Both are geniuses, and they seemed to have needed each other equally to give birth to Apple. I think Job’s genius has been the ability to connect dots and act as the catalyst in forming something substantial of those dots. That takes vision and charisma.
I know he made Pixar what it is, but I really think when he made the purchase he acquired two passionate animation junkies: Ed Catmul and John Lasseter. From there they brought in more passionate and talented people and created an amazing animation studio. I wonder how much influence the culture of Pixar has had on Apple’s great resurgence. They were (presumably) using Apple machines and software and pushing them to the max, which must have driven and informed progress. Plus, the creatives of Pixar brought new visual and intellectual story-driven inspirations with them…I have a feeling that Pixar had much to do with Apple’s incredible success in the last two plus decades. I’d love to hear what Job’s thinks about that. Sadly, Pixar got sucked up by Disney. I guess it was a shrewd move at the time, but I was very sad that he did that. Disney had lost it’s way, and Pixar was a great beacon, making it apparent where and why they had lost their way. Since then, Jobs became an influential Disney board member, which was another shrewd move-given that Apple was becoming more and more a content distributer. Forming an alliance with Disney was a powerful move for Jobs and Apple. It gave them tremendous leverage to influence and distribute content. But, now that whole structure is being shaken. I can only assume that him stepping down is an indication of his health. Why else would he surrender his position? I’ve been trying to learn more about Tim Cook, and the only thing I’ve gleaned is that he’s not charismatic like Jobs. He seems guarded, and calculating-but not spontaneous or exciting. I think that’s a problem. The only thing that gives me hope is that the culture of Apple is stronger than ever. But, on the surface, Cook isn’t the best representation of that. When I look at what Lasseter and Catmul are doing for Disney/Pixar some flags are also raised. While they seem to have good instincts, they also seem to have succumbed to the cancerous corporate mantra of “stronger, faster, cheaper”. I think they’ve lost sight of the core of what made Pixar, Apple and Walt Disney Studios great…vision. So, now we’re at a deficit of charisma and vision in my opinion. I think that needs to be restored, or else, here comes Google around the outside.
Whatever happens, I’m sad to see Jobs go. He’s a great inspiration.