05 December 2011

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

First of all hats off to publisher for perfect timing of the book. It was in our hands at right time,  when we wanted to know more about one of the iconic entrepreneurs/businessman of our era who has built world's most valuable company through sustained innovation. Infact, the release of the book was advanced by a month to cash on sad-demise of SJ. From Indian scenario, hats off to India's flagship e-store flipkart for offering pre-order discount and delivering  the book in just 1-2 days after the official release !

The book lives upto the hype in many folds and presents an interesting tale in a coherent and compelling way. The contents are very engrossing and discusses about things which were not in pubIc domain till date.  Like SJ developed his intuition during his exploratory trip to India, iPod was introduced as a leapfrog product to counter the absense of tray-based CD-writer in iMac and touchscreen technology was developed first for tablets but was productized first in smartphones.

The major plus point of the book is that Steve Jobs has not supervised on the contents and gave full liberty to the author write whatever he felt. The book documents many subtle anecdotes from SJ's life like trip to junkyard with his father during formative years where he was first introduced to electronics, other experiences in cradle of tech industry i.e. the valley whose inhabitants cracked the formula for turning silicon into gold !

Due to SJ's anti-social behavior, it very difficult person to work with him and on other side of the coin he used motivate people to put more than their 100% through reality distortion field ! The best part of book was John Scully chapter which has been narrated moment by moment in the book and not to mention SJ's eternal rivalry with Microsoft's co-founder Bill Gates.

Personally, I found the first half of the book overloaded with characters, you will loose track with so many names :) The second half is quite okay, may be we know many people through current affairs :)

A few excerpts from the book

  • One of opening comments: This is a book about the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized SIX Industries ..... PCs, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing and digital publishing !!!
  • So in dealing with him, the team adopted an audio concept called a "low pass filter." In processing his input, they learned to reduce the amplitude of his high-frequency signals. That served to smooth out the data set and provide a less jittery moving average of his evolving attitudes. 
  •  "If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will" to indicate that Apple always operated as a cohesive company under single P/L statement. Loss of sales for present cash cow product were ignored while introducing a new revolutionary product.
  • Regarding Bill Gates by SJ: "Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's comfortable now in philanthropy than technology"
  • Rivalry between SJ and BG: Throughout their careers they had adhered to competing philosophies on one of the most fundamental of all digital issues: whether hardware and software should be tightly integrated or more open
  • One of concluding comments by the author: "He made devices simpler by eliminating buttons, software simpler by eliminating features and interfaces similar by eliminating options". ‎

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