Jobs Gets Chance to Tell His Own Story
11 Stories Apple's Steve Jobs Will Want to Include in His Biography
Reports are swirling that an official, authorized biography of Steve Jobs is in the works. If true, the news is certainly ironic. Jobs is notoriously private. He also has had a tendency over the years to never discuss moments in his career that weren't so special.
Worst of all for Jobs, those moments were shed in unflattering light in a biography written a few years ago, called "iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act In the History of Business." The official biography, some say, might retell Jobs' story, but with a far more laudatory tone.
A contributing reason for that, reports suggest, is that Jobs will be working directly with the authorized biography's author, Walter Isaacson. At first glance, that might not seem like an issue. Often times, biographers will interview their subjects to hear their side of a story and ensure that the content in their work is accurate.
But Jobs is different. In iCon, he's described as "brash" and "cocky." And his desire to perpetuate his reputation as Apple's savior is unquenchable. So with Jobs working with Isaacson on his book, just how likely is it that the stories in there will reflect what reallyhappened every step of the way through his storied career? More importantly, which stories will Jobs want us to remember above all others?
Let's take a look at some of the stories that Jobs would likely want us to base his legacy on:
1. Apple's founding
Although his career started at video-game company Atari, Jobs always had a passion for starting his own firm. He also knew how to capitalize on the talents of others. Combining that desire with his own talent, he convinced his friend Steve Wozniak, an expert on PC design, to start Apple. He also enlisted the help of a few others to generate the required funding to start the company. It was Jobs' vision and passion that rallied his troops. And it's that drive that he wants us all to remember.
2. The unlikely rise of Apple
When Apple first started in 1976, the chances of the company becoming what it is today were slim. Building computers was a difficult job and finding customers that would buy products was even more difficult. But Jobs was unique. He had an uncanny ability to sell a product that shop owners at the time might have otherwise rejected. And he knew that his own limitations on computer design were best left out of the development process, so Wozniak could utilize his own talents to deliver the best product. It worked. Unlike so many other companies that attempted to start their own computer business at the time, Apple succeeded.
3. His departure
Some might question why Jobs would want the world to remember his departure from Apple, but I think it plays into his ego. When Jobs was ousted in 1985 by the company's CEO, John Sculley, Apple's senior management believed it was the right move. And yet over the next 10 years, Apple attempted to compete in an arena that was leaving it behind. Jobs might not want everyone to know the issues surrounding his departure from Apple, but you can bet that he'll want everyone to know that once he was gone, the company he founded was in deep trouble.
Pixar is one of Jobs' greatest contributions to the entertainment business. After acquiring the small company (then known as The Graphics Group) from Lucasfilms in 1986 for $10 million, Jobs had a vision its previous owners lacked. During his tenure as owner, Pixar created Toy Story, A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, among many other wildly successful films. Today, cartoon-based films are few and far between. And we have Jobs and his team to thank for it.
Jobs Gets Chance to Tell His Own Story
5. Apple's lean years
You can bet that one of the most important stories to be told in Jobs' biography is Apple's troubles during his absence from the company. During the reign of other CEOs, Apple was financially crippled. The company was well on its way to one of two fates: closure or being sold off to the highest bidder. Worst of all, Apple was investing in several products, including the Newton, that caused it to lose its focus and the loyalty of its following. Whether or not Jobs could have helped Apple during those years is up for debate. But he would surely like the world to believe that without him, Apple had little chance of surviving.
6. His triumphant return
Upon his return, Steve Jobs changed Apple. He not only watched as Apple's board of directors ousted then-CEO Gil Amelio in a board-room coup to make him interim CEO, he discontinued the Newton and CyberDog, among several other projects Apple was working on. He also realized that if Apple would be successful again, it would need to establish a competitive advantage. That advantage came by way of NeXTSTEP, an operating system designed by the company he founded during his absence from Apple, NeXT Computer. NeXTSTEP eventually became the basis for Mac OS X. And today, it's one of the main reasons why Apple computers sell so well.
7. The iMac
The iMac is easily one of the most important products Jobs ever released. When the iMac hit store shelves, Apple was doing somewhat better than it was under other leadership, but things still weren't going well. The iMac sold extremely well, thanks to its unique design and that it ran an operating system that was only available on Apple computers. It was the company's first step back into the market. And its influence is still felt today.
8. The iPod
No other product Apple released in the past decade has meant more to the company than the iPod. The company's music player substantially increased its revenue. And by integrating the iPod with iTunes, Jobs was able to revolutionize both the personal-music space and the entire music industry. That's a story he wants everyone to remember.
9. The iPhone
Similar to the iPod, the iPhone revolutionized the industry it competes in. When Jobs announced it on stage in 2007, it changed everything. Not only did it push the mobile-phone industry forward, it ensured that every other company in the space would be forced to catch up. Almost three years later, no company has. That is a testament to Jobs and his vision. It also underlies his desire to set the standard in an industry, rather than follow the leaders. Unfortunately, Jobs wants everyone to know about that desire.
10. The iPad
If an authorized Jobs biography hits store shelves, it will be a marketing ploy. Not only will it provide a stellar view of Jobs' life, it would also shed Apple in the best light possible. That's precisely why Jobs will want to highlight the iPad. His company's tablet device is a major question mark at this point. It lacks multitasking, it won't run standard iPhone apps in full-screen, and its Web-browsing capabilities will be hobbled, due to no Flash support. In other words, it might not be the success Jobs hopes it will be. And he will need to exploit every avenue of marketing to help it. An authorized biography might be a good place to start.
11. Personal health issues
During the past several years, Jobs has had to deal with poor health and a prolonged brush with mortality as a result of pancreatic cancer that was first diagnosed in mid-2004. In April 2009, Jobs received what was described in press reports as a successful liver transplant. But during that period he tried hard to keep those issues out of the headlines. This book might just be his chance to set the record straight. He can say what he wants about his health and provide the exact account of what happened. Considering what he has been through. Jobs has likely decided that now is the best time to tell his story in an authorized biography before it's too late.
Jobs' biography might reveal any number of interesting stories that either have never been told or poorly told. However, if he has his way, the focus will likely be on his triumphs. That seems to be who Jobs is and what Apple is all about.