Haunted Empire Stories November 28, 2014

Steve Jobs may have passed away more than three years ago, but he is still having patents awarded today as applications work their way through the system and old patents are renewed with updates. MIT Technology Review notes that of the 458 patents credited to Jobs, almost a third of them have been awarded since his death in October 2011.

Since his death in 2011 from pancreatic cancer, the former Apple CEO has won 141 patents. That’s more than most inventors win during their lifetimes.

His patent documents act as a record of Apple’s history, says the site …  expand full story

Haunted Empire Stories March 19, 2014

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Tim Cook may have called the Haunted Empire book ‘nonsense’, but the derisive comments about the book from Apple executives do not end there. Personally, I found the pen-throwing anecdote too funny and decided to ask Cue whether it was true or not. I wasn’t really expecting a reply, but to my surprise he actually did.

I asked about the story’s truthfulness:

I am slightly obsessed with the anecdote about Jobs throwing a pen in your face. Is the story true?

Cue replied rather curtly:

No it’s not.

Hard to argue with a direct reply from Cue himself. The full extract from Haunted Empire can be seen below. You can find 9to5Mac‘s full review of Kane’s controversial book here.

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Haunted Empire Stories March 18, 2014

Today marked the debut of former WSJ Apple reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane’s book “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs” (review from this morning) and Tim Cook is not pleased.

The Apple CEO told CNBC the following:

This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company. Apple has over 85,000 employees that come to work each day to do their best work, to create the world’s best products, to put their mark in the universe and leave it better than they found it. This has been the heart of Apple from day one and will remain at the heart for decades to come. I am very confident about our future.

Update: Re/Code’s telling of the email sent by Apple has an additional sentence:

“We’ve always had many doubters in our history,” he said in the e-mail. “They only make us stronger.”

Yukari Kane also responded to Re/Code:

“For Tim Cook to have such strong feelings about the book, it must have touched a nerve,” Kane said. “Even I was surprised by my conclusions, so I understand the sentiment. I’m happy to speak with him or anyone at Apple in public or private. My hope in writing this book was to be thought-provoking and to start a conversation which I’m glad it has.” expand full story

Yukari Kane on Apple leadership styles: Jobs demanding, Cook inclusive, both intense

The NY Times has a brief interview with Yukari Kane, author of Haunted Empire, in which she contrasts the leadership styles of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Interestingly, while many see Cook as laid-back in contrast to the driven nature of the company’s co-founder, Kane says that both share an intensity.

I don’t think of Tim as laid back. In fact, he’s extremely intense. His intensity is just more quiet and dogged than Steve’s.

There is, of course, the obligatory anecdote to illustrate the obsession with detail and demands Jobs would make on his team.

Jobs routinely made a habit of calling people back mid-vacation […] for example, people had to work on Christmas Day because he decided he wanted a different color iPod shuffle at the last minute.

Despite her book’s contention that Apple is lost without Steve, she does acknowledge the strengths that Cook brings to the role.

Cook is also a better internal communicator. He sends out more all-staff emails and holds more town hall meetings. He also understands that people need to take vacations and have down time […]

Cook brings more efficiency and organization to Apple, which is good because the company’s increased size and scale requires a professional, consistent leadership style that is more inclusive than Steve Jobs’s was.

But doesn’t waste any time in returning to her theme.

In terms of profits and revenues, there is no question that Apple continues to be a successful company. But Apple’s own definition of success is much more. Its promise is to be exceptional – to make insanely great products that change the world. The latter is difficult to do without Steve Jobs’s reality distortion field. […]  If Apple stays on the current trajectory, I think the danger is that it could turn into Sony.

Haunted Empire Stories March 1, 2014

Tim Cook profiled in “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs” [Video]

There wasn’t a whole lot new in this chunk of the Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, which Yukari Kane mostly focuses on Apple CEO Tim Cook and his characteristics that are often the opposite of Steve Jobs. Cook is a character but not the same character that brought Apple to its current success.

From the WSJ excerpt:

As tough as Cook was reputed to be, he was also generous. He gave away the frequent-flier miles that he racked up as Christmas gifts, and he volunteered at a soup kitchen during the Thanksgiving holidays. He had also participated in an annual two-day cycling event across Georgia to raise money for multiple sclerosis; Cook had been a supporter since being misdiagnosed with the disease years before. “The doctor said, ‘Mr. Cook, you’ve either had a stroke, or you have MS,’ ” Cook told the Auburn alumni magazine. He didn’t have either. His symptoms had been produced from “lugging a lot of incredibly heavy luggage around.”

An earlier piece in the New Yorker online edition painted a dreary picture of Apple post Steve Jobs and the video above does delve into that viewpoint a bit.

Apple’s latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7, looks pretty but is full of bugs and flaws. As for innovation, the last time Apple created something that was truly great was the original iPad, when Jobs was still alive. Although the company’s C.E.O., Tim Cook, insists otherwise, Apple seems more eager to talk about the past than about the future.

From the video:

[Has Apple lost its touch? Are they still King of the Hill?]

KANE: I think the answer is obvious to me. The answer has got to be yes. This is a company who had revolved around Steve Jobs for so long, I mean that was something that Jobs himself went out of his way to make sure of. And the people there are conditioned to operate, to play off of his strengths and weaknesses. And so now you’ve got this completely opposite guy in Tim Cook, who is I think brilliant in many ways, but in different ways. But so they’re going through some growing pains in that.

Meanwhile, Publishers Weekly has the following review of the book:

Jan 27, 2014 – The globe-bestriding computer-maker loses its soul in this lively business history. Former Wall Street Journal technology reporter Kane follows Apple after the 2011 death of founder Steve Jobs as the company’s knack for conjuring breakthrough i-gadgets lapsed into a series of ho-hum upgrades, misfires like the befuddled artificial intelligence app Siri, and interminable patent lawsuits, while market share, profits, and stock price eroded. Kane makes the story a study in CEO leadership styles, contrasting Jobs’s visionary bluster with his successor Tim Cook’s icy bean-counting and the histrionics of Samsung’s “wise emperor” Lee Kun-hee, whose quality crusade involved burning an entire factory’s inventory in front of its weeping employees. Kane unearths plenty of colorful material here, including lawyerly jousting, hilariously lame new-product unveilings, and conference-room psychodramas between bullying execs and groveling underlings. The author’s great-man theory of Jobs’s “unfiltered” leadership as the indispensable motor of Apple’s innovation doesn’t explain much; her unusually rich dissection of Apple’s ugly dealings with its FoxConn manufacturing partner suggests that Cook’s merciless wringing of profits out of exploited Chinese labor is as much the soul of Apple as Jobs’s oft-hyped intuition for design. Still, this well-paced, vividly detailed narrative reveals the machine surrounding the Jobsian ghost at Apple and brings the company’s high-flying mythology down to earth.© Publishers Weekly

We’re getting an advanced copy this week which we don’t expect to be as pessimistic and the publicity-generating excerpts above.  Interesting bits will be posted here.

Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs is available March 18th from Harper Collins ($12.74 Amazon/$14.99 iBookstore)

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