steve jobs

Oct 15

“The Man In The Machine”: an aimless rehash


I finally got around to watching Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine.

The verdict: two thumbs down. I only wish I had more thumbs to vote with.

I didn’t hate it because it’s a hatchet job. In fact, I’m not even sure it is a hatchet job. Much of it wanders aimlessly, exploring the good and bad sides of Steve Jobs.

It’s just not a well conceived or executed film — which is surprising, given that Gibney’s previous documentary about Scientology, Going Clear, was widely praised.

There’s a big difference between the two.

Going Clear explored a subject that is murky to most of us, and is based on a book that was extensively researched. The Man In The Machine is none of that. It’s simply a rehash of things that are well known about Steve, presented as if they’re news. Continue reading →

Jul 15

Revving up for the next Steve Jobs movie

Thank you, Aaron Sorkin.

The official trailer for the new Steve Jobs movie (release date: October 9) is out, and I have to say: it looks pretty rich.

We mustn’t get carried away — it’s only a trailer, after all — but the movie sure looks like it lives up to the Sorkin standard.

Personally, I can’t imagine a more difficult screenwriting task. How does one take such a complicated, important life and distill it into 90 minutes’ worth of dialog and images?

Sorkin’s job was to pick the moments that tell a story as they reveal the nature of the man. And historical accuracy isn’t exactly the highest priority — creating a great movie experience is.

I can already hear the knee-jerk reactions: “But Fassbender doesn’t look anything like Steve Jobs!”

Correct. And I, for one, am relieved by that. Continue reading →

May 15

One day they’ll understand Apple

Well, okay. Maybe that headline was a bit too optimistic. Let me re-phrase:

They will never understand Apple. Ever.

I suppose we can just chalk it up to human behavior. As the original Macintosh team at Apple liked to say, it’s more fun to be the pirates than the navy. In Star Wars terms, one could say it’s more fun to be the rebels than the Empire.

Given the size of the company today, Apple can easily be seen as both the navy and the Empire. So I get why the sport of finding the cracks in Apple’s armor is so popular.

That said, I remain amazed that so many fail to grasp how Apple thinks and behaves — though they’ve seen the same scenario play out time after time. Continue reading →

Mar 15

Becoming Steve Jobs: the authors speak

Yesterday, the authors of Becoming Steve Jobs, Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, had a little sit-down at the Soho Apple Store — with surprise guest host John Gruber.

It was a rare opportunity to get a sense of the authors’ personalities and motivations — since we normally hear of such things only through articles written by people who color the facts with their own point of view.

Kudos to Gruber for asking some probing questions and making the event run smoothly.

The truth is, any book about Steve Jobs will have a polarizing effect similar to the one generated by Steve himself. So now we have the battle of the biographies. It’s Becoming Steve Jobs (Schlender and Tetzeli) vs. Steve Jobs (Isaacson).

A few observations:

First, I love the title Becoming Steve Jobs. A book title, like the headline of an ad, is hugely important, and this one so perfectly captures the concept. Steve accomplished what he did only because of the journey that brought him back to Apple in 1997.

Few will remember at this point, but the original title for Isaacson’s book as announced was iSteve. What a horribly cute title that would have been for a life so important. Continue reading →

Mar 15

Waking from an Apple Watch hangover

We don’t like to make hot-headed remarks about Apple new-product events around these parts. Better to let things sink in for a while.

Okay, time’s up.

A few random comments about yesterday’s Apple Watch and MacBook event.

The broadcast
Glitch-free and a pleasure to watch. With the accompanying tweet-cast, Apple has become quite spiffy with these things. My only issue with it was…

The tweets
I couldn’t help but wince while reading some of the pre-event tweets. Steve Jobs hated any writing that sounded like marketing-speak, but such inhibitions seemed to have melted way here. It was a mix of trying to be cool (Getting psyched backstage listening to I Lived by @OneRepublic), trying to be clever (Please make sure your seat is in an upright position. It’s almost time for takeoff.) and sounding like an ad (People grab their seats before the keynote grabs their attention). Continue reading →

Jan 15

Thinking “what Steve would think”

Steve Jobs left Apple with an important bit of advice for Tim Cook and team: “Don’t ask yourself what Steve would do.”

Ah, but he didn’t tell anyone not to ask what Steve would think.


Such is the basis of Luke Dormehl’s recent effort at Cult of Mac entitled “7 things Steve Jobs would have hated about Apple today.”

I like Luke. However, I do think this is a pointless exercise. So many things have changed in the three years since Steve’s passing, it’s hard to make these judgments. And then there’s the fact that Steve himself presided over a number of Apple low points. So the idea that he would frown upon today’s Apple — which is doing well in so many big ways — is quite a leap.

Are these seven things really worthy of Steve’s “hate”? Continue reading →

Sep 14

The joy of Apple-slamming

Now that the Bendgate uproar is subsiding (personally, I much prefer the name “Bendghazi”), I think it deserves a moment of calm reflection.

To me, the story isn’t that Apple created a sub-standard product. Because it didn’t.

The real story is that all these people were so quick to believe that Apple had screwed up in such a monumental way — and then joyfully helped blast this “news” into the public consciousness.

It all started with the notorious bending video.

Honestly, the first time I saw this, I thought it was pretty moronic. The guy’s hands are literally trembling from the force he exerts in his attempt to bend the thing.

I don’t doubt that one could bend an iPhone 6 Plus if he had a mind to. Continue reading →

Sep 14

Apple’s i prepares for retirement

At last week’s event, Tim Cook made it clear that Apple Pay and Apple Watch have an amazing future.

He made it equally clear that Apple’s little “i” has no future at all.

It’s difficult to draw any other conclusion, since iPay and iWatch would have fit so perfectly into Apple’s current naming scheme.

Hey, we all knew this day would come. The i had a long and fruitful life, but it’s time to start planning for the golden years.

The truth is, the idea of moving past the i had come up at various times inside Apple. In fact, I had a conversation with Steve Jobs on this very topic way back in 2006. Continue reading →

Apr 14

John Sculley apologizes again—but shouldn’t

John Sculley isn’t exactly a favorite amongst Apple fans. He will forever be the man who sent Steve Jobs into exile.

Given the astronomical success of Apple following Steve’s return in 1997, it’s understandable why Sculley would say it was a “mistake” to send Steve packing. He’s said it before and he just said it again.

Get over it, John.

You may have blundered through that particular period of time, but in a weird way you can actually take credit for Apple’s — and Steve Jobs’ — great success.

Because of you, a young, passionate and inexperienced Steve matured in a way he wouldn’t have otherwise.

Being cast out of Apple was what forced Steve to reassess his life. It was during those years of exile that he matured, learning the skills he was lacking in 1985. Continue reading →

Apr 14

Apple’s little advertising crisis

Phil – and his email – get their day in court

Corporate legal dramas often serve as a reminder to one of the new cardinal rules of business:

Watch what you say in email.

I suspect there are a few people at Apple and its ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day who wish they could take their messages back, now that Samsung’s lawyers have introduced them as evidence.

One email from Phil Schiller to Tim Cook says that Apple “may need to start a search for a new agency … we are not getting what we need from [Chiat] and haven’t been for a while.”

Tim’s reply: “If we need to do this, we should get going.”


This all happened in 2013, so who knows if it’s blown over by now. But given Steve Jobs’ long-running relationship with Chiat, this potentially represents a huge break from the past.

A little perspective is in order. Continue reading →