Biography April 14
Biography March 31
Apple has only sanctioned a small set of App Store apps to support its CarPlay feature with Audio Books for iPhone today joining that limited list. The latest version of Audio Books adds integration with CarPlay head units for easily finding audiobooks to play through your car stereo on your drive. expand full story
Biography March 24
Several years after Steve Jobs’ untimely death, journalists — particularly ones who previously interviewed or covered Jobs — are still combing their archives for underreported facts or quotes that might justify new books on Apple’s enigmatic CEO. Naturally, the overlap with earlier works is significant, as new authors repeatedly acknowledge leaning on Michael Moritz’s (Return to) The Little Kingdom and Owen Linzmayer’s Apple Confidential 2.0, among many others. But there’s still an opportunity to bring new details to light, which is why Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s Becoming Steve Jobs ($12+/Amazon, $13/iBookstore) exists. Over 400 pages in length, it aims primarily to set the record straight about one key facet of Jobs’ life — he was a better man at age 56 than he was at 21 — but includes enough interesting anecdotes about Apple and Jobs’ other pursuits to be worth reading.
Although Becoming Steve Jobs follows a mostly familiar storytelling arc, Schlender and Tetzeli’s strengths come from two sources: direct access to Jobs from the mid-1980’s until 2011, and interviews with major players conducted after Jobs’ death. While their quotes tend to be short and in service of the larger narrative, the list of participating heavy hitters is non-trivial: Laurene Powell Jobs represents the Jobs family, alongside current Apple executives Tim Cook, Jony Ive and Eddy Cue, ex-Apple executives Jon Rubinstein, Tony Fadell, Katie Cotton, Fred Anderson and Avie Tevanian, Jobs’ top ad men Regis McKenna and Lee Clow, Pixar’s Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Given that access, it’s perhaps not a surprise that the book paints a largely sympathetic portrait, but the authors also gave participants room to speak candidly about how Jobs’ “sharp elbows” affected them personally and professionally…
Biography March 23
Becoming Steve Jobs, the new biography of Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, will be officially released tomorrow by Crown Business/Penguin Random House, and is currently available as a pre-order from Amazon ($12+) and Apple’s iBookstore ($13). While some of the book’s material will be familiar to avid followers of Jobs and Apple, there are some interesting details inside about how Jobs’ companies Apple, NeXt, and Pixar interrelated.
On NeXT: The book notes that the computer industry changed during Microsoft’s leadership, shifting to an environment where companies — the largest buyers of computers — were seeking reliability and stability rather than innovation. According to the authors, NeXT’s key failure was that it successfully identified a real market for $3,000 workstation computers targeted at the higher-education market, but went so far beyond that price point — in some cases in pursuit of industrial design goals — that few actual customers existed for its product.
NeXT, which was headquartered in the same business park where Steve Jobs first saw Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and graphical user interface, came tantalizingly close to undermining Microsoft at a key point in its growth: IBM licensed the NeXTSTEP operating system for use in workstations, and might have used it to compete against Windows personal computers.
“But Steve… held up IBM for more money, leading to another round of protracted negotiations. He overplayed his hand. Cannavino stopped taking Steve’s calls and just abandoned the project, although there was never any real announcement that it was over. It was a minor disappointment for IBM, ending its ‘Plan B’ fantasy of creating a real alternative to Microsoft’s new Windows graphical operating system for PCs.”
And there’s more…
Becoming Steve Jobs, the new biography of Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, will be officially released tomorrow by Crown Business/Penguin Random House, and is currently available as a pre-order from Amazon ($20/print, $12/Kindle, $30/audiobook or free audiobook with Audible trial) and Apple’s iBookstore ($13). Bringing together years of personal interviews with Steve Jobs and his colleagues, the authors have assembled a substantial collection of insights about how Jobs evolved over time as a person and a leader.
One key focus of the book is reflected in the title: the Buddhist notion “that everything, and every individual, is ceaselessly in the process of” evolving — “becoming” — rather than static.
“[D]espite the fact that he could be almost unfathomably stubborn and opinionated at times, the man himself was constantly adapting, following his nose, learning, trying out new dimensions. He was constantly in the act of becoming.”
For this reason, the authors suggest that Jobs’s personality was misunderstood — at least during his second run at Apple — in part because he decided to cut most of his interaction with the press, except for structured discussions during new product launches. As such, the public picture of Jobs as an intemperate, immature young man wasn’t adequately updated to reflect his later maturity into the wiser and more effective leader who achieved Apple’s historic transformation…
Becoming Steve Jobs, the new biography of Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, will be officially released tomorrow by Crown Business/Penguin Random House, and is currently available as a pre-order from Amazon/iBooks. I’ve been reading an advance copy of the book, and it’s packed with interesting details — including some not previously known — about Jobs’ personal life, friends, and enemies.
For instance, Schlender and Tetzeli add color to some of the previously known defining moments in Jobs’ life, including the birth of his daughter Lisa and son Reed, and his marriage to Laurene Powell. The book notes that Jobs was not there for Lisa’s birth, which took place at the apple orchard that inspired his company’s name, and later appeared to regret that he’d made a mistake missing the major life event. He became a devoted family man after marrying Laurene — notably at Yosemite National Park — and made time most evenings to have dinner with his wife and kids, but continued to work late into the night from computers at his home. According to the book, Jobs laughed most deeply and often when interacting with his kids, and was there for Reed’s birth; the “hippie” couple even allowed the infant to sleep in bed with them at first…