Five fascinating revelations from ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’

Steve Jobs Fearless Genius

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). Here are just some of the interesting revelations found inside, including some details regarding Jobs’ evolving attitude towards the media.

Jobs’ return to Apple was almost certainly not a strategic takeover. Despite speculation that Steve Jobs may have strategically orchestrated a takeover of Apple during his sale of NeXT — a view shared by Bill Gates and former Apple CEO Gil Amelio — the book suggests that Jobs was truly uncertain about his continued involvement with the company. Avie Tevanian and Jon Rubinstein, “the two men whom Steve trusted the most at Apple… agree that Steve did not intend to become Apple’s CEO,” and that they didn’t think they were going to be working for him there. Despite Jobs’ love for Apple, the company was in a precarious financial situation, and he had competing demands for his time.

A year later, Jobs told the authors that just as Bob Dylan would “never stand still,” and was “always risking failure” — the mark of a true artist — “[t]his Apple thing is that way for me.” Confronting the risk of failure and the consequences for his reputation, family, and Pixar, Jobs “finally decided, I don’t really care, this is what I want to do. And if I try my best and fail, well, I tried my best.” Jobs adopted the term “iCEO” or “interim CEO,” reflecting his continued uncertainty about the position…

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‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ on Apple, NeXT, and Pixar

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…

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“He could be a jerk, but never an a-hole” sums up Becoming Steve Jobs, says inner circle journalist

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The conflicting biographies of Steve Jobs, one authorized by its subject prior to his death, the other endorsed by Apple, paint quite different pictures of the man. Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs focuses more on his flaws, while Becoming Steve Jobs describes a softer, more rounded person.

A tech journalist who knew Steve well, Steven Levy, has weighed in with his own take in an interesting blog post, The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was. He said that one quote from Becoming Steve Jobs summed-up the view presented by Schlender and Tetzeli.

He could be a jerk, but never an asshole.

Levy says that many of those close to Steve shared the view expressed by Tim Cook on Isaacson’s biography, published soon after Steve’s death, that it did a “tremendous disservice” to him. Jony Ive said that his own regard for the book “couldn’t be any lower” …  Read more

Apple says it participated in ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ book from a sense of responsibility to Steve

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In the first official statement about Apple’s decision to allow Tim Cook and other senior executives to be interviewed for Becoming Steve Jobs, company spokesman Steve Dowling said it was from a sense of responsibility to Steve’s memory.

After a long period of reflection following Steve’s death, we felt a sense of responsibility to say more about the Steve we knew. 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. The book captures Steve better than anything else we’ve seen, and we are happy we decided to participate.

Apple had initially refused interview requests by authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, the company taking 18 months to change its mind, reports the NY Times …  Read more

Happy Hour Podcast 006 | New Apple Watch details, a controversial Steve Jobs flick, and the future of USB-C with Apple

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Welcome to Happy Hour 006. In this episode Zac, Seth, and Benjamin discuss new Apple Watch details and wrap up the need-to-know information, a new controversial Steve Jobs documentary, and the future of USB-C. How will it affect future iOS devices and Macs? The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed…

Click here to subscribe on iTunes or listen to the episode embedded above.

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FastCo interview: Tim Cook talks Apple philosophy/legacy, Apple watch skepticism, new Campus & more

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Fast Company has an extensive interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook, focusing on what has changed and what has stayed the same since he took over from Steve Jobs. The interview comes a day after FastCo published a sizeable excerpt from the book Becoming Steve Jobs, in which Cook criticized the portrayal of Jobs in Isaacson’s biography.

Cook said that while much has changed, the culture–the fundamental goal of the company–remained the same.

Steve felt that if Apple could do that—make great products and great tools for people—they in turn would do great things. He felt strongly that this would be his contribution to the world at large. We still very much believe that. That’s still the core of this company.

The company has never tried to be first to market, he said, but rather to “have the patience to get it right” …  Read more

Gibney’s Steve Jobs documentary coming to theaters as Apple’s Eddy Cue calls it mean spirited and inaccurate

Steve Jobs- The Man in the Machine

Little-known until its debut at SXSW this weekend, Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney’s “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” has been picked up by Magnolia Pictures for a North American theatrical release, and CNN Films for television broadcasts, Deadline Hollywood reports today. An earlier story from The Hollywood Reporter claimed that several Apple employees in attendance walked out early, and Apple’s Eddy Cue has used Twitter to denounce the film, calling it “inaccurate and mean-spirited.”

The Man in the Machine includes interviews with a number of former Apple employees including Jon Rubinstein, Bob Belleville and Daniel Kottke, as well as Jobs’ ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan, and even video footage from a 2008 SEC deposition given by Jobs himself. Early reviews have described the documentary as “a riveting and important corrective to the myths Jobs helped to propagate,” and “unsparing portrait of Steve Jobs [that] will prove extremely displeasing to devotees.” A few representative quotes from those reviews follow…

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‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine’ documentary debuts at SXSW today

Oscar winner Alex Gibney’s documentary about Steve Jobs. The film debuts at SXSW this month.

Sometimes I lose count of the movies about Steve Jobs but I’m pretty sure this one wasn’t on my radar until recently. Premiering at SXSW today is “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine”, a documentary funded by CNN and directed by Alex Gibney, who is just off releasing a controversial Scientology exposé “Going Clear”.

Alex Gibney is one of America’s pre-eminent filmmakers. He won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side and was nominated for Enron:The Smartest Guys in the Room. Most recently Mea Maxima Culpa:Silence in the House of God won three Emmys and a Peabody. This spring Going Clear:Scientology and the Prison of Belief and a Sinatra doc miniseries airs on HBO.

Reading the Q&As at Variety and Hollywood Reporter, it appears that this isn’t going to be a love-fest like the new book. Still, given the subject matter and the brief clip above, I’m intrigued…

Steve Jobs- The Man in the Machine

Update: notes from the film, which we can now confirm doesn’t cast a good light on the Apple founder follow. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Apple Employees who attended the film walked out:

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Upcoming biography reveals Steve Jobs turned down liver donation from Tim Cook, wanted to buy Yahoo, and more

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More details about the upcoming biography Becoming Steve Jobs have been revealed through the book’s preview on Amazon (which has since been cut down significantly), revealing several interesting tidbits about the Apple co-founder’s life that were previously unknown (via Cult of Mac).

One example is a story about an offer then-COO Tim Cook made to Jobs when the latter was battling cancer. Cook says that he discovered he shared a blood type with Jobs and decided to undergo numerous medical tests before offering to donate part of his liver to the executive.

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FT interviews Jony Ive ahead of Apple Watch, details on design vs. iPhone (and battery vs. thin), intensity and pricing estimates

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London’s Financial Times today carries a profile of Jony Ive in which he discusses how the Mac changed his dislike of computers, why he is consumed by design and disinterested in sales, the difference between designing a phone (and its slim battery)  and designing a smartwatch–and why Apple decided to take a low-key approach on even the top-end Edition watch.

The piece also contained an interesting (if possibly mistaken) estimate on Apple Watch pricing (update: Apple PR has now confirmed to us that the FT is indeed mistaken) …  Read more

On what would have been Steve’s 60th birthday, imagine an Apple where he’s still in charge

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Almost everything Apple has done since the unfortunate passing of Steve Jobs has been met with comments about what the company would or wouldn’t have done had Steve still been here – even though his marching orders for Tim Cook were to never ask what he would have done.

But things certainly would have been different. The flattened user-interface of iOS 7 versus the skeuomorphic approach of the Jobs era. Would have it have happened at all? Would he have stopped it going quite so far? Would Apple have gone in a different direction?

What about an Apple Television? Steve said years ago that he “finally cracked it,” suggesting that he had a design and user-interface he was happy with. If the hold-up now is the content, would Steve have been able to bulldoze through the necessary deals to have launched it by now … ?  Read more

The New Yorker profiles Jony Ive: details meeting Jobs, iPhone 6, Apple Watch, cars and more

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The New Yorker has published an extensive profile on Jony Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design. Many newspapers have written up articles on Ive in recent years, but this latest account by Ian Parker is by far the most detailed and (arguably) the most interesting, revealing new anecdotes and tidbits on Apple’s latest products in the process.

The story tracks how Jony arrived at Apple back in the late 90’s, how his relationship with Jobs developed over that period, and how he is adapting to ‘leading’ design in post-Jobs Apple. The piece includes some new details about how the Watch project and the newest iPhones formed, as well as incorporating quotes from Tim Cook, Bob Mansfield, and others.

Read on for some select excerpts from The New Yorker’s story.

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