It’s been a little over 11 years since Steve Jobs died and to commemorate this anniversary I’m posting here my short review of the new book by Tripp Mickle: After Steve - how Apple became a trillion-dollar company and lost its soul.
The subtitle is very click-baity!
I don’t like it when the subtitles clearly reveal the thesis of the book. This subtitle reads like a title from a YouTube video and not a book. However, as a long-time Apple fan I can agree with some of the “lost soul” part. Things like:
Jony Ive’s design being too much “form over function”
You can see that clearly in the 2016 MacBook Pros. Their lack of ports and shitty butterfly keyboard are a jarring example of that. Jony was missing Steve Jobs “the editor” to tell him that the keyboard is shit or that people actually need to work on these computers. Now as Jony is away we can see Apple has significantly improved their laptop designs. My Nozbe developers now like their new 14” and 16” M1 MacBook Pros much more!
Scott Forstall was too unapologetic!
It was fascinating to learn more about the clashes between Jony, Scott and Tim inside of Apple. How they disagreed over Software and Hardware design, how the whole Apple Maps fiasco came to be and in the end what happened when Scott was let go.
Tim Cook’s being too much “spreadsheet” focused
You can see that in how they nickel-and-dime users by releasing their products with minimum specs and pricing the upgrades very expensively. It took them many years to change the base iPhone and iPad storage from 32GB to something bigger.
In the book we learn more stories like this, where Tim replaced many executives with “financial guys” to bring order to the company. Or how sometimes both Tim and Jony, arguably the most powerful executives in the world, would fire someone on the spot and reduce their compensation out of spite. I didn’t expect them to be like this!
However, the most irritating story to me was listening to the whole “double Irish” tax evasion scheme that Tim Cook was defending furiously. On one hand he says how Apple cares about the community and on the other he cheats on taxes. Yeah, in theory it was all legal what they did, but was it really when the EU fined them billions of euros in the end? And is it legal or fair if normal businesses like mine pay all due taxes and companies like Apple don’t?
I enjoyed both back-stories of Jony and Tim!
I’m a sucker for biographies so I really enjoyed the stories behind both Tim Cook and Jony Ive. Their background, how they came to work at Apple and their progress in the company. This book is very well researched so even a close observer of Apple like myself learned many new things.
I loved to learn how the dynamic between Steve Jobs and Jony Ive developed. How Jony was the main designer and Steve was the main editor.
How both understood the fragility of ideas.
I totally recommend this book. It gives a good glimpse into the Apple company as it is today, however I don’t agree that Apple completely lost its soul. I’m still a big fan of the company and I type these words on my 13” iPad Pro, I have an Apple Watch on my wrist, an iPhone 13 Mini in my right pocket and AirPods Pro (second gen) in my left pocket along my car keys with AirTags. In my home office I have an M1 MacBook Air.
While I still do love Apple products, I don’t approve many of the things they do these days, like asking employees back to the office without actually consulting them or how Tim Cook was supporting all the wrong things when Trump was in power.
RIP Steve Jobs - there are many things I did learn from you!
When I look back, I learned a lot from Steve Jobs, I loved how he orchestrated his last year, how he did presentations, especially when he unveiled the MacBook Air. How he edited out just to the essentials or focused on core features of a product.
Rest In Peace Steve, you will not be forgotten.
P.S. I liked how Rene Ritchie talked about this book
If you want to hear a smarter person than me talk about the “After Steve” book, check this video by Rene Ritchie: