The London Times has a rather interesting profile of Steve Jobs on its site. According to MacNN, Apple tried to kill the article. That’s not surprising. Apple always strives to stay “on message” and nothing is more “off message” than any discussion of Jobs’ health. Well, with the possible exception of the oft-rumored iTablet. I could go on for a few thousand words about how this is another shining example of Apple’s much-maligned secrecy, but I’d rather focus on the original profile.
Like most of the faithful, each Tuesday I bow my head in solemn prayer towards the Moscone Center, where I eagerly await the next tidings of joy from Apple. I hope that missive is delivered by Our Leader, Steve Jobs, but, in a pinch Phil Schiller will do. However, there are gaps in my knowledge of all things Jobs, and I thought the Times piece did an excellent job at summing up his overall character, which is precisely why Apple tried to kill it.
As I suggested above, the article does spend some time talking about Jobs’s heath issue. What true profile wouldn’t? I found this passage to be the most sobering take on what the poor fellow has gone though:
“Philip Elmer-DeWitt, author of the Apple 2.0 blog at CNNmoney.com, e-mails me the grim details of his operation: ‘He’s lost his gall-bladder, part of his stomach, part of his pancreas, the upper end of his small intestine and now has someone else’s liver, which probably means he’ll be on immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of his life. That can’t be fun.’”
We can criticize Jobs’ personality all we want, but the guy has gone through medical hell. The author goes on to mention the battle of Jobs’ privacy vs. the interests of the shareholders:
“… [b]ut employees are one thing; shareholders are another. Should Jobs (who, as far as the world is concerned, is Apple) have been allowed to conceal the seriousness of his illness? Warren Buffett, the greatest investor alive, doesn’t think so. ‘Whether [Steve Jobs] is facing serious surgery or not is a material fact.’”
On that I am in agreement. Granted, my knowledge of the ins and outs of Wall Street is gleaned entirely from the Michael Douglas movie, but, I think Apple should have released that Jobs was in fact near death and required a liver transplant to save his life, in the interest of transparency.
A comparison is made between the Jobs we see in public and the Jobs Apple employees alone are privy to. The Apple Jobs is a harsh taskmaster; the one that gets on stage on the Moscone Center is more like Santa Claus bearing gifts on Christmas. I can see an Apple employee paraphrasing the old Bill Cosby line: “That is not the Steve Jobs I grew up with. That’s an old person, trying to get into heaven.”
What’s most important about Jobs to Apple, the tech community, and me personally is summed up in this statement (emphasis mine):
“Good Steve is the only businessman to be accorded rock-god status by millions. Apple nuts queue overnight to hear him speak. They buy Macs, iPods and iPhones not just because they want them, but also because they want to support this company as if it were some kind of charity or cult. The nuts aren’t wrong for one crucial reason. Though personally worth $3.4 billion, Jobs is one of them, the great consumer of his own products.“
To me, that’s Jobs. While he’s spoken of as a narcissistic control freak who’s about as pleasant to be around as Bigfoot with a toothache, Steve Jobs obsesses over his user experience with Apple’s products. That, in turn, means I’m likely to have a good experience with those same products.
Appleyard goes on to post his prediction for a post-Jobs Apple:
“My own view is that a Jobsless Apple will seek a merger with Google. The two companies are rapidly converging, a fact that recently led to the resignation of the Apple director Eric Schmidt, the chairman and chief executive of Google. He had been on the Apple board for three years, and was forced out because of suspicions that links between the two companies could endanger competition.”
I don’t buy that at all. I have a hard time seeing either Apple or Google merging with anyone, much less with each other. I don’t think Apple and Google core business interests coincide sufficiently — although Chrome and Android are enough to warrant a conflict of interest for Schmidt. To me, Google’s core business is searches and ads; where they collide with Apple is in areas that drive those two. Chrome OS isn’t going to be a threat to anyone making an OS, but a tablet running Chrome OS will help drive its search business by giving you a convenient product on which to use Google Apps. It’s a definite conflict, but it isn’t solid bedrock for an absolute merger.