While traveling to South Korea a couple of weeks ago, I read the latest Steve Jobs business biography, iCon (what an awful title, by the way). You may recall that this is the book that caused Apple to ban all books published by Wiley from their stores. When I first read about the ban, I kinda rolled my eyes. After reading the book, I better understand what’s going on. Steve Jobs is a bit of a mad genius.
I’ve pretty much been a PC guy from the beginning. I used Apple machines a bit back in college, but that’s pretty much the extent of my exposure to the Apple religion. Also, I haven’t really paid much attention to Steve Jobs. Sure, I’d heard of him, and knew that he was associated, along with "Woz", with Apple somehow. And I’d heard of that NeXT computer thingy that he had going for a while. I don’t think I knew about his association with Pixar, though. So anyway, you can see that though the subject matter was pretty well picked over, it was all new to me.
As for the book itself, I liked it. It was an entertaining read, though I swear there were parts in the book that described Jobs’ management style and I just had to put the book down for a while–I got that frustrated! The book didn’t really shine a whole lot of positive light on Steve Jobs, but at the same time, it didn’t seem to be an assasination piece either. I thought it was a fairly clear-eyed accounting of Jobs’ business history. It was very interesting to read how this young dude, interested in electronics, kinda stumbled his way into co-founding Apple. Jobs was, and still seems to be, a bit of an enigma. He’s health conscious, aware of his spiritual self, yet has an extreme temper, not much humility and, in the early days at least, not much generosity.
On the other hand, the book makes it clear that Jobs’ is a master negotiator and a better-than-average marketer. It seems that in the early days of Apple, Jobs did very little market research and just built what he imagined people wanted. Sometimes he was right.
On the whole, the book showed that Jobs has much to be proud of, but that he has at least an equal number of things to be ashamed of. Since the book didn’t flinch in the retelling of either the good or the bad, it’s my guess that Jobs got pretty upset and did the ‘scorched earth’ ban on Wiley books. That had to be the best news Wiley heard all week–I’m sure sales took a nice bump. A fun read and worth picking up at the library at least.