Former WSJ Apple writer Yukari Iwatani Kane’s long-awaited book based on more than 200 interviews with current and former executives and insiders goes on sale today  ($12.74 Amazon/$14.99 iBookstore/Free Audible Audiobook). We got an advance copy, and I enjoyed the first 85 pages or so of background including Steve Jobs’s transitioning the company during the last bout with his terminal cancer. This area  included some interesting new tidbits (did you know Apple almost sold the original iPad for $399?).

The middle of the book meanders somewhat aimlessly into the big stories after Steve Jobs’s death, but spending way too much time on Foxconn, the Samsung trial, the DOJ ebooks trial and patent minutia. I frankly had a hard time staying involved in some of these chapters because it was like re-reading old news reports with little new information to keep me satiated.

However, over this period of the book, you start to get an idea of where the whole thing is going. Kane is clearly offended by Apple’s arrogance, and she’s not buying the same old marketing spin that Apple continues to employ after Jobs. When she talks about post-Steve Jobs events,  the on-stage jokes are not funny to her (“painful”) and the ‘forced superlatives’ and jabs at the competition are deceptive and betray a deeper insecurity in her eyes. This carries over into Tim Cook’s media appearances including a so-called “disastrous” AllThingsD.

Sure Steve Jobs and company have been telling Redmond to “start their copiers” and making Longhorn gags since forever, but now the jokes and marketing no longer ring true – without someone with the credibility to deliver them, like Steve Jobs.

And that’s the general theme of the book.  That Apple cannot be Apple after Steve Jobs. There must be a story arc here and after Steve Jobs, the company must go into decline. In fact, Kane actually says this in the epilogue (but perhaps it should have been in the prologue):

Kane

The book concludes exactly how it has been prepared to conclude (sorry, no surprise ending). Apple is in a free fall (increasing sales numbers notwithstanding). Employees are leaving for Google and other Valley startups as soon as their stocks vest, if they can wait that long. Behind the scenes, morale is low and people are scrambling to find that lost sense of purpose. There is no room to believe that Apple could, in fact, have “its most innovative years in front of it”, to use Steve Jobs’s resignation words.

All of that said, I didn’t hate this book like a lot of other Apple reviewers did. I believe it is good for folks like us who often bathe ourselves in pro-Apple news and opinion to get an alternate reality that perhaps the mainstream sees more often in the 24-hour news/entertainment cycle.  There were some interesting bits and, if nothing else, Kane’s view of Apple is somehow both cautionary and entertaining.

($12.74 Amazon/$14.99 iBookstore/Free Audible Audiobook)

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26 Responses to “Book Review: Haunted Empire, Apple After Steve Jobs”

  1. p101616 says:

    Thank you. So, it’s not a must read. Fare well, Yukari.

  2. Dave Huntley says:

    So what you are saying is that it is really badly written (?)
    Perhaps you should just say that.

  3. Brian Victor says:

    Interesting. I had heard nothing about Apple employees leaving in significant numbers. I wonder if that is true? Also I had not heard about them complaining of a lost sense of purpose. Again, I’d love to know how the author made that determination. Is it anecdotal or did she run a poll or cite someone else’s numbers and if she did then how did that other source get their data? Sans proof (is there any presented in the book?), Kane’s prediction of Apple’s decline sounds smacks of sour grapes: no one likes a braggart which Apple certainly tends to be and based on this review (I have no plans to read the book) that seems to be Kane’s problem. Apple continues to put out compelling products with amazing new features and we can see from Apple’s history that new product take an average of half a decade to develop.

  4. Brian Victor says:

    I suppose I should qualify my statement: No one likes a braggart, unless it is your team doing the bragging and you know that you can make good on it. Mind you, this is somewhat immature behavior all around: to brag (Apple) and to take the bragging too seriously (Apple-haters). Why not just enjoy the cool toys you buy and use them to make the world a more beautiful place?

    • Yeah, that would be nice. The problem is that people are almost “obsessed” with their toys and this spills over into irrational feelings. Such as loving your iPhone. I mean, you can’t love an inanimate object. You can only love living things. To love inanimate objects is also fruitless (no pun intended) as that love can never be returned to you. I enjoy Apple keynote presentations, but dislike it when the execs say the word “love”. Its out of place, has no relevance at all.

  5. rogifan says:

    What a shock that 9to5Mac didn’t hate this book. This site is becoming increasingly more anti-Apple every day.

    If someone wants a real review of this book read Charles Arthur’s piece in the Guardian, or the review on tuaw.com. No one should spend their money on this piece of garbage.

    • Not everyone wants to see things through an Apple-biased window. Sometimes it is good to hear both sides.

      • Steve Ballen says:

        It’s not a side if it’s baseless speculation of future all-out failure. That’s just catering to an established audience–negativity-starved cynics. When Apple was the underdog this energy still existed in the world; it was just directed elsewhere. This sort of crap shouldn’t be validated.

      • Brian Victor says:

        On the whole, the review was balanced, though I would like to know the evidence that Kane uses to substantiate her claims.

      • I’m sorry but you are praising a book predicting Apple’s doom based on the fact that Steve Jobs is no longer alive and without him apparently Apple is lost. In the mean time Apple released the Macbook Pro Retina Display, slim iMacs, iPad Airs, iPhone 5S with touchID, free iWorks, free OSX upgrades, the Mac Pro that in it self was quite the engineering challenge and every year they keep making billions of dollars and even freaking Mac sales went up.

        There is a difference between Apple biased and Apple facts. What you are doing is Apple bashing based on speculation. I mean I guess Apple should quit the spaceship campus construction because according to you there will be no staff left to fill it up, and the few people left will look so sad and depressed that not even those gigantic glass walls with a beautiful view to the woods will be enough to brighten up their sad miserable lives. I mean are you honestly serious? People have been calling Apple’s doom since it first came out of doom land, there is absolutely nothing original to that so I dont even know where you get the incentive from.

      • dman238 says:

        Except when it’s completely false?? I mean, I’m all for “both sides” but if it’s a fabrication and has no real truth to it, then I could give a CRAP about if it gives an “alternate” point-of-view. Give me a REAL point-of-view that has some TRUTH to it and then you can express both sides. Until then, don’t give me made up crap in order to push forth “alternative point of view” or agenda. Facts please.

      • Carlos R. Batista: ” In the mean time Apple released the Macbook Pro Retina Display, slim iMacs, iPad Airs, iPhone 5S with touchID, free iWorks, free OSX upgrades, the Mac Pro”

        You do realise don’t you that all those things you just listed are not new. They already existed. Releasing ‘upgrades’ to already existing products is a little boring. We want NEW product categories. Do you understand the difference here?

  6. Steve Ballen says:

    Perhaps I posted my comment to the wrong article. It went something like this:

    Ugh. Give me a break. Just another doomsday fanatic trying to capitalize on being able to formulate a decent argument for what cynics want to hear.

    If it was 2017 and we’d seen nothing dramatically new from Apple, I’d say there might be some validity to this. But even if higher market expectations should rightfully impact a company’s output (which I’m only partially convinced of), we’re still within 3 years of the death of the unparalleled visionary who founded and led this company. To judge them at this point as doomed is completely irrational and absurd, not to mention unfair.
    Show me one other company that’s outdone itself DURING the transition of leadership this drastic. How about some credit for the machine never once grinding to a halt? They may not have revolutionized any new product categories in the last 2.5 years (it was over 3 years between the iPhone and iPad under Jobs, and that was the tightest span ever), but last time I checked they still break a few personal and industry performance records every year, while indirectly launching multiple new blogs exclusively tailored to Apple rumors, and causing airhead competitors to launch half-baked products in pure unverified anticipation of their next move.

    Doomed my ass.

  7. Tallest Skil says:

    MONEY GRAB. How that’s not immediately apparent is beyond me.

  8. I honestly have no idea what the hell people are expecting from Apple these days. Tons of crap has happened since jobs died: Macbook Pro Retina, Mac Pro, slim iMacs, iPad Air and **** ton of new features on the iPhone 5S.

    I guess Jobs was more of a god or something to some people, like only if Jobs tells you that product X is good then it is, if not then it just feels like a regular product. Well allow me wake you all the f### up, and by all I mean you, Yukari Iwatani. Apple products have always been regular products and Jobs was a regular guy not a god. Today’s Apple is not much different from yesterday’s Apple except for your infatuation over Steve Jobs. We loved him too, but nothing close to your level, time to move on.

  9. Allen Buck says:

    It’s good to hear insides about Apple being that it’s so secretive. IMHO no one would buy the book or be interested if it wasn’t scandalous and predicted doom. I want to read it to hear the interviews and get inside news, but I don’t consider the conclusion shocking considering the motivating factors.

  10. This is pure crap, Business is business many employees leave companies all the time for other ventures or jobs, it’s not like focusing on Apple will make it seem like a doomsday warning. I do believe Apple has innovation in them, but the wrong man is in charge and that is Cook, I worked at an Apple Store back in the day when Jobs was Boss, and when Cook took over things started changing some good some bad like anything else, But I do feel Apple can do a lot and they will, They’re not going anywhere anytime soon, and I believe competition will keep them on their feet to release new fresh ideas and products, but why rush a good thing? The better time spent on a product the better it will be.

  11. Dave Huntley says:

    By all the reviews, this is a badly written book by a woman who has a biased theme all of her own, she is trying to cash in on Apple’s and Jobs’ name in order to scare up some cash. If rants in paperback hold no interest just don’t buy it. By all accounts it will be in the 99c bin very quick.

  12. borntofeel says:

    Time to forget about this book.

  13. I gave up on anything Apple and New York Times related. NYT loves to bash great American companies and always one sided reporting with agendas while other companies (non-Apple) get away with murder yet largely ignored by NYT.

    I will pass and thanks for heads up Seth!

  14. This is a book i would never spend a cent. Hysterical and false sensational craft of a mind with serious breakdown

  15. kgbxl says:

    when asked why she thinks the game is up for apple while unit volume continues to grow, watch her ramble for about 2 minutes on market growth, china, politicians, and foxconn (starting around the 50m50s mark):

    reminds me of that SNL weekend update skit where fred amisen as some activist keeps starting important sounding sentences but never finishes them.

  16. Joel Henson says:

    My definition of a doomed company certainly would not include a company who could literally do nothing for years on end before it ran out of money and it’s certainly not a company who makes more every quarter than most companies make in five years.

  17. Even if Kane is a capable writer (her stint at the WSJ should be proof enough of that), I think this review misses the point: it starts off with a pre-determined view of Apple, and then forces or discards facts to fit the narrative. That is neither honest journalism nor non-fiction, it is “magical thinking” of the sort that pervades and degrades our entire culture these days. She learned a lot from working for Rupert Murdoch, to put it politely.

  18. drtyrell969 says:

    No one will believe me of course, but here’s the scoop on this book. Apple is being dismantled. It’s being dismantled from every conceivable direction to ensure that government monsters like Google (not that Apple hasn’t played its role in this game) win. Historically the book will prevail in history and Tim Cook’s comments won’t. It is important to corporate saboteurs that history sanitizes ill intent. Steve’s Chevez irradiated cancer takes out the moral protector. Tim is the Jessie Jackson to take over for MLK. Every product is sabotaged, iWorks kills all logical flow and crucial features. Final Cut, after doing the unthinkable and displacing Avid and Premiere is sabotaged. Apple’s only strength, which is PC design and manufacturing is reduced to a failing post-pc era where all of Apple’s ideas are stolen without litigation…the list goes on. In 10 years Apple will be HP. A once proud company owned by Google.