STEVE JOBS By Walter Isaacson – Reviewed

Fans of Steve Jobs are likely to find much of this book uncompromising and possibly offensive, in its no-holds-barred look at the visionary behind Apple.

Despite Jobs’ obvious skills it appears he founded Apple on the back of the other Steve’s (Wosniak) invention of the Apple computer. Sure, Jobs had a hand in the design, and his powerful personality brought the commercial success of this and many later products, but he wasn’t the brain behind it, more the brain behind the brain.

Indeed as you read further Jobs becomes the powerhouse, the businessman and CEO of Pixar and again of Apple and his unrelenting determination to drive his staff to produce the best possible products is what makes Apple great.

The book follows Jobs rise and fall at Apple, his ten years in the wasteland of NEXT and the beginnings of Pixar. It doesn’t give much insight into how he developed his businesses, and it’s quite harsh on Jobs’ uncompromising nature. A nature that, when he was brought back to Apple and eventually took over, helped to create the world’s largest company (by market cap, positions have changed once again since the book was published).

Jobs comes off as a man of contradictions, a Buddhist interested in products, a foul-smelling, mean and uncompromising brat. A man who either loved or hated you, thought you were a genius or an idiot, and had little patience. A salesman, a visionary with the ability to see what people want before they know what it is they want. A control freak determined to perfect every single detail.

But his fierce determination to control everything is what lost him the company he built, it’s also what brought us products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Jobs’ successful return to Apple is where the book excel, although I would have liked even more detail. I remember the advertising campaigns from the 1984 one through to those of the dancing silhouette for the iPod and the new iPad adverts, I remember Adobe refusing to write software for the Macs and the original iMac which revolutionised PC design.

Jobs might not have been a particularly nice man, and from the book it doesn’t seem he mellowed much, despite his bouts of cancer and near death experiences, but he was an intelligent man who creates masterpieces of simplicity and genius design that makes Apple one of the most profitable, and now largest, computer manufacturers in the world. Jobs will be pleased that his legacy in Apple is a strong company, but where will they go without their glorious leader? Only time will time. Sadly for Steve, and for us, his time ended too soon.

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