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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 203032  
Subject: Nuggets Date: 11/6/2011 3:58 PM
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I ordered "the book" from Amazon and it arrived, belatedly, on Monday afternoon. I read the introduction and knew I was going to love it. Aw heck, I knew I was going to love it before I read a word, because I like business books, I like biographies, and I love Apple. But reading Walter Isaacson's writing in that introduction convinced me that I was going to enjoy it more than most any other, and I was right.

So I heartily recommend "Steve Jobs", even moreso after reading it because it lives up to the promise, particularly for people who know about and have followed the company for all these years. Even Mrs. Goofy, for whom things computer are mysterious if useful, even at times baffling, read the introduction and tells me she wants to read it too. I wonder if she will enjoy plowing through the business minutiae, but I am not likely to dissuade her attempt. Isaacson's prose flows, and there is never a moment of awkward writing or a place where I stopped and wondered "Now why did he ever use that word?"

The book is nearly 600 pages, yet there is a ton of stuff left out; if you don't believe me, ask Wikipedia to walk you through every iteration of OS 7 and see how much there is that nobody really cares about. But nearly everything you do care about is in here: the beginnings, the break-up, the comeback, the products, the future, the family, the sordid and the glorious. The well known "reality distortion field" comes up again and again, as does early Jobs' refuse to bath or use deodorant, as does his tendency to assume ownership of others' ideas, as does his habit of declaring something "great" or "crap", sometimes the same thing on the same day.

That he was a prickly manager and odd in other ways takes nothing away from his genius or accomplishments, indeed, the story rings true at every turn; it is not a sycophant's homage but a reporter's honest attempt to lay out Jobs' life and the Apple story in meticulous detail, and it succeeds.

Which is not to say there aren't a few bumps here or there. John Sculley comes in for his rightful trashing, but he's in the midst of destroying the company, and he's not mentioned again for three chapters, when suddenly we learn that he's been replaced by Michael Spindler, who is a bozo, (who is suddenly replaced by Gil Amelio, who is an even bigger bozo.) Little of the behind the scenes political machinations are revealed, although one which is (and is probably the best) is the way Jobs is invited back into the company by Amelio via the purchase of NeXT as "an advisor", and Steve quickly convinces the board to oust Amelio, and even more shortly tells the entire board (with one exception) they have to resign, en masse, and they do. Talk about chutzpah!

Anyway, the post is titled "Nuggets", and I marked some of them for display here. I will try to stay within the bounds of the copyright gods by quoting only a few short passages from this long and enjoyable book:

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade: The music companies were reluctant to license someone else to distribute their music, but they fought among themselves, too, debuting proprietary, competing and incompatible systems which were complicated, incomplete, and (to coin the phrase) verklempt at birth. Jobs used the Mac's small market share as a plus, instead of a negative:

I've never spent so much of my time trying to convince people to do the right thing for themselves," he recalled. Because the companies were worried about the pricing model and unbundling of albums, Jobs pitched that his new service would be only on the Macintosh a mere 5% if the market. They could try the idea with little risk. "We used our small market share to our advantage bt arguing that if the store turned out to be destructive it wouldn't destroy the entire universe," he recalled

(Of course after just a few months he went back and renegotiated the contracts to include Windows machines, and more than one record company executive felt a bit abused. Oh well.)

On the concept for the stores, even as Gateway and other computer retailers were crashing:

The days of the Byte Shop were over. Industry sales were shifting from local computer specialty shops to megachains and big box stores, where most clerks had neither the knowledge nor the incentive to explain the distinctive nature of Apple products." ...
There were no tech stores in the mall, and [Ron] Johnson [VP Merchandising for Target] explained why. The conventional wisdom was that a consumer, when making a major and infrequent purchase such as a computer, would be willing to drive to a less convenient location where the rent would be cheaper. Jobs disagreed. Apple stores should be in malls and on Main Streets--in areas with a lot of foot traffic, no matter how expensive. "We may not be able to get them to drive ten miles to check out our products, but we can get them to walk ten feet," he said.


On the (secretive) design process:

The design studio where Jony Ives reigns, on the ground floor of Two Infinite Loop on the Apple campus, is shielded by tinted windows and a heavy clad, locked door. Just inside is a glass-booth reception desk where two assistants guard access. Even high-level Apple employees are not allowed in without special permission...
Ive described the usual process: "This great room is the one place in the company where you can look around and see everything we have in the works. When Steve comes in he will sit at one of these tables. If we're working on a new iPhone, for example, he might grab a stool and start playing with different models and feeling them in his hands, remarking on which ones he likes best. Then he will look at the other tables, just him and me, to see where all the other products are heading. ... Looking at the models on these tables, he can see the future for the next three years.


On why it's good to have cash in your pocket:

Jobs began pushing for a portable music player in the fall of 2006, but Rubinstein responded that the necessary components weren't available yet. He asked Jobs to wait. ...
At the end of a routine meeting with Toshiba, the engineers mentioned a new product they had in the lab that would be ready by that June. It was a tiny, 1.8 inch disk drive that would hold five gigabytes of storage (about a thousand songs), but they were not sure what to do with it....
"I know how to do it now," Rubinstein told Jobs. "All I need is a $10 million check." Jobs immediately authorized it."


And finally, if I'm not pushing my luck too much, how about a memo from Bill Gates, on the debut of the iTunes store. Microsoft, of course, already had MSN, so delivering content online should have been easy, right? At 10:46 that night, Gates sent a memo:

Subject: Apple's Jobs again

Steve Jobs ability to focus in on a few things that count, get people who get user interface right, and market things as revolutionary are amazing things." He expressed surprise that Jobs had been able to convince the music companies to go along with his store. "This is very strange to me. The music companies' own operations offer a service that is truly unfriendly to the user. Somehow they decide to give Apple the ability to do something pretty good." ...
I am not saying this strangeness means we messed up-at least if we did, so did Real and Pressplay and MusicNet and basically everyone else," he wrote. "Now that Jobs has done it we need to move fast to get something where the user interface and Rights are as good. I think we need some plan to prove that, even though Jobs has us a bit flat footed again, we can move quick and both match and do stuff better".


Heh.

I would love to quote more, but I dare not. One tidbit I found fascinating was that when Steve came back, he didn't really know what to do, or at least didn't let on to some of his closest confidants who didn't see the path eventually taken. On a walk around his neighborhood, talking with Mike Markkula, early angel investor, former Apple CEO, a long time friend and about-to-be bounced Board Member, Markkula articulated the strategy. He said that Hewlett Packard started in a garage making audio oscillators, but hadn't stopped there, and went on to manufacture calculators, then computers and printers and a plethora of other things. Markkula said, and Jobs acknowledged that the PC business was in Microsoft's pocket, and Apple wouldn't beat them at that game, so they should look elsewhere. And so while Jobs first moves were in the OS, jellybean colored Mac cases and the like, he was formulating the strategy of "other", the famous realization of "Think Different", and through it a strategic path which nurtured the Apple brand and polished it ever more brightly, climbing through the litany of Apple products the world has come to know over the past decade.

It's a great book. I recommend it highly. Spend the $17, you won't regret it.
 
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Author: PucksFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177933 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/6/2011 4:24 PM
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This is the first review that's made me think I want to read it. But I'll wait until it shows up at one of our libraries.

Thanks,
PF

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Author: Follydolly Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177934 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/6/2011 5:53 PM
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I am reading the book also....only on the children section at this time, so I did not read your nuggets. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Birgit

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Author: ItsGoingUp Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177943 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/7/2011 1:38 AM
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I bought the SJ biography the day it came out, but I figured the only proper way to get it was as an iBook for my iPad. I read it in two days, which tends to be the way I read things I enjoy.

Yes, it's quite good, although a bit rough around the edges from being hurried out the door. Had SJ taken a couple more months to die it would have been a better book.

The nicest thing about it I thought (as a techie kind of guy) was that it wasn't full of glaring errors. The only thing I noticed was a place where Isaacson was editorializing about tech stuff he didn't understand.

Well worth reading. For the best of SJ trifecta then go read Mona Simpson's eulogy in the NYT, and listen to SJ's Stanford commencement speech on youtube. If you're like me, do it all on your iPad because it's the right thing to do.

-IGU-

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Author: Kentopia Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177944 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/7/2011 3:07 AM
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Had SJ taken a couple more months to die it would have been a better book.

The book was planned and the release date slated well before SJ passed away. I wished he had a longer life, too, but not to make sure his biography was polished.

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Author: NailThatJello Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Ticker Guide Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177945 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/7/2011 3:20 AM
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One slight disappointment in the book is that it didn't delve into 'Ma'. It did describe his Japanese Zen guru but never hit this term specifically and what is different about it versus Zen. From my perspective, it looks like the core of the Apple.

http://www.cultofmac.com/79599/how-steve-jobs-sense-of-zen-m...

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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177946 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/7/2011 7:33 AM
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The book was planned and the release date slated well before SJ passed away. I wished he had a longer life, too, but not to make sure his biography was polished.

The book began a few years ago at Jobs' urging it's true, but the original publish date was to be in 2012. As his illness progressed that was moved up to late November, and when he died it was moved again to late October.

That said, I found no "rough edges", or places where I felt they had "hurried", and if I didn't know the publication schedule had moved I would never suspect that it had been. I did enjoy reading that the title had been changed and the cover art replaced by Jobs himself, into a simple black and white image with no other adornment. Very Jobs. Very Apple.

There were so many other things I didn't put in the OP, like his interaction with Dylan and Dylan's admission that he has to work to write songs nowadays, whereas in the early period (60's) they just "came through him." Also enjoyed the parts about the advertising campaigns (although "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" get short shrift), but as one reviewer I read said, "It's a perfectly linear read" and I'd say that's true. Even when Isaacson jumps topics it's never jarring, and each chapter flows to the next, and the next... I found it hard to put down, but I forced myself so I could enjoy it longer. (And I got the hardcover because it's one I want in the permanent library.)

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Author: stevenjklein Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177950 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/7/2011 12:01 PM
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Jobs began pushing for a portable music player in the fall of 2006,

Surely that date must be wrong? I'm thinking it happened in 2000, the year before the iPod came out.

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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177951 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/7/2011 3:27 PM
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Jobs began pushing for a portable music player in the fall of 2006,

Surely that date must be wrong? I'm thinking it happened in 2000, the year before the iPod came out.


Yes, obviously. None of this is available online, so I typed it out on my own keyboard. I must have mis-typed.

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Author: Follydolly Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177954 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/7/2011 5:19 PM
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I first got the hard cover for my library, then upon seeing the audiobook available, I got that too. I love "listening" and the reader is Wonderful!!!

Since computers meant nothing to me before 1988 and I did not get my first Mac until 1996, much of the early parts of the book are new info for me. It is all fascinating!

Birgit

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Author: MurrayS Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177957 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/7/2011 6:55 PM
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Bill Gates:

Now that Jobs has done it we need to move fast to get something where the user interface and Rights are as good.

I know! Set up a pre pay system similar to the carnival where you buy a bunch of tickets to spend at the various rides, but invariably end up with excess tickets.

Yep, that's a great way to eek out another percent or two of profit and I'll bet the consumer will never notice!

Zunes rule! Great job MS...you were this {}close.

-murray

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Author: 4aapl Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177976 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/8/2011 5:06 PM
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None of this is available online

Actually, it is if you know where to look.

I haven't read any of it yet, am in the que at the library and have it in my basket at Amazon to add in with a future purchase....but opening up the book I found online in Preview, I see this from page 153:

"Jobs began pushing for a portable music player in the fall of 2000, but Rubinstein responded that the necessary components were not available yet. He asked Jobs to wait. After a few months Rubinstein was able to score a suitable small LCD screen and rechargeable lithium-polymer battery. The tougher challenge was finding a disk drive that was small enough but had ample memory to make a great music player. Then, in February 2001, he took one of his regular trips to Japan to visit Apple’s suppliers.
At the end of a routine meeting with Toshiba, the engineers mentioned a new product they had in the lab that would be ready by that June. It was a tiny, 1.8-inch drive (the size of a silver dollar) that would hold five gigabytes of storage (about a thousand songs), and they were not sure what to do with it. When the Toshiba engineers showed it to Rubinstein, he knew immediately what it could be used for. A thousand songs in his pocket! Perfect. But he kept a poker face. Jobs was also in Japan, giving the keynote speech at the Tokyo Macworld conference. They met that night at the Hotel Okura, where Jobs was staying. “I know how to do it now,” Rubinstein told him. “All I need is a $10 million check.” Jobs immediately authorized it. So Rubinstein started negotiating with Toshiba to have exclusive rights to every one of the disks it could make, and he began to look around for someone who could lead the development team."

Thanks for the review. It sounds like it will be well worth the read.

Aaron

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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177977 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/8/2011 6:05 PM
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Jobs immediately authorized it. So Rubinstein started negotiating with Toshiba to have exclusive rights to every one of the disks it could make, and he began to look around for someone who could lead the development team."

There were so many tidbits I wanted to include in the post. This was one, but I cut it off before it got to the "rights to every one of the disks it could make" part.

We've talked about that on the board before, how Jobs/Cook uses the supply chain as a weapon. One other example was one Christmas season (I forget which) when Apple had a new product in development, they reserved all the air freight space on several carriers for late November through December to get the product here in time for the season. When other manufacturers started looking for space for those "last minute" shipments, oops, so sorry, no room at the inn.

I thought the quote about the development lab would be interesting to most, because Ive said Jobs could see "the next three years" on the workbenches there. So that means they have the next three years of product in development, although they apparently don't lock down a model until just a few months before production actually begins. But I'd give anything to get a peek inside that room, wouldn't you?

Here is a fascinating columm, complete with a few more bits of the book, even though this snippet might not appear so. It's about "tweakers" and how they move things forward:

Britain dominated the industrial revolution because it had a far larger population of skilled engineers and artisans than its competitors: resourceful and creative men who took the signature inventions of the industrial age and tweaked them—refined and perfected them, and made them work.
In 1779, Samuel Crompton, a retiring genius from Lancashire, invented the spinning mule, which made possible the mechanization of cotton manufacture. Yet England’s real advantage was that it had Henry Stones, of Horwich, who added metal rollers to the mule; and James Hargreaves, of Tottington, who figured out how to smooth the acceleration and deceleration of the spinning wheel; and William Kelly, of Glasgow, who worked out how to add water power to the draw stroke; and John Kennedy, of Manchester, who adapted the wheel to turn out fine counts; and, finally, Richard Roberts, also of Manchester, a master of precision machine tooling—and the tweaker’s tweaker. He created the “automatic” spinning mule: an exacting, high-speed, reliable rethinking of Crompton’s original creation. Such men, the economists argue, provided the “micro inventions necessary to make macro inventions highly productive and remunerative.”

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/11/14/111114fa_fact_...

Here's another take around the same idea:

James Watt invented the modern steam engine, doubling the efficiency of the engines that had come before. But when the tweakers took over the efficiency of the steam engine swiftly quadrupled. Samuel Crompton was responsible for what Meisenzahl and Mokyr call "arguably the most productive invention" of the industrial revolution [the spinning mule]. But the key moment, in the history of the mule, came a few years later, when there was a strike of cotton workers. The mill owners were looking for a way to replace the workers with unskilled labor, and needed an automatic mule, which did not need to be controlled by the spinner. It was the tweaker's tweaker, Richard Roberts, who saved the day, producing a prototype, in 1825, and then an even better solution in 1830. Before long, the number of spindles on a typical mule jumped from four hundred to a thousand. The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world. The tweaker inherits things as they are, and has to push and pull them toward some more nearly perfect solution. That is not a lesser task.
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/11/the-secr...

I have read enough columns now decrying Steve Jobs as the inventor of "anything", and it makes me crazy. Ford didn't invent the automobile, just the first cheap one. Edison didn't invent the light bulb, just the first one that worked. Heck, the Wright Brothers didn't invent the airplane, or even have the first powered flight. They had the first powered flight with a human on board. But all these people get the credit because they put together all the pieces built by others into something new, useful, and ultimately successful. That's what Jobs did, over and over.

I'm letting the book rest for a few days, but I will probably pick it back up and read it again next week.
 


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Author: NailThatJello Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Ticker Guide Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 177986 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/9/2011 1:44 AM
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I have read enough columns now decrying Steve Jobs as the inventor of "anything", and it makes me crazy. Ford didn't invent the automobile, just the first cheap one. Edison didn't invent the light bulb, just the first one that worked. Heck, the Wright Brothers didn't invent the airplane

Jobs & Wozniak invented the first mainstream-popular personal computer.

Jobs & team also invented the first mainstream-popular smartphone, and tablet.

He may also have invented the first mainstream-popular smart TV. We shall see.

The other guys will just be footnotes in the history books.

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Author: drebbin Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 178104 of 203032
Subject: Re: Nuggets Date: 11/11/2011 4:25 PM
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Finally you've written a post that actually deserves recommendations. I'm still in virtual line waiting for the book from my local library. Looking forward to it. If I don't have it by Christmas, I suspect it will show up under the tree...

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