As always, I love John Gruber’s analysis. “Jobs’s arrogance got him into trouble at times, but at other times it was his saving grace” — namely, when he had to deliver bad news to the market. Cook’s “genuine and inherent humility holds Apple back on days like today. Apple needed less ‘I’m sorry, let me explain’ and more ‘Fuck you, this is bullshit, let me explain’.” daringfireball.net…
Susie Ochs, Macworld: “I’ll really miss Slide to Unlock, which I stopped using 18 months ago anyway.”
It was “the first bit of iOS we ever saw.” It “got audible gasps of amazement at the original iPhone’s unveiling.”
The iPhone was the first real smartphone. Sure, there were predecessors — the Palm Treo, for example; I had one and loved it. But the iPhone was a vast advance and made smartphones mainstream. So that slide unlocked an era.
And that demo was Steve Jobs’s last great product introduction.
Apple sued Samsung claiming slide to unlock was proprietary; a judge threw the lawsuit out on its keister.
Successful people starts of the day "Every morning I ask myself: if today were the last day of my life…"-Steve Jobs pic.twitter.com…
— Phil Sanderson (@SanFranciscoVC) July 18, 2014
(1) Yes it is important to realize that time on this Earth is finite. You’re not going to live forever. You’re going to die someday. Don’t take time for granted. Accept that it’s all too easy to put things off for too long until you run out of time to do them.
(2) BUT YOU’RE ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO DIE TODAY!! Shoot, you’ve almost certainly got the whole weekend ahead of you. Sleep in tomorrow. You deserve it, you hard-working fool.
(3) The “eat the frog” quote doesn’t sound like anything Mark Twain would have said. It doesn’t sound like his voice. It doesn’t appear on any authoritative Twain site. And most importantly, Mark Twain was a man who understood the value of loafing.
Remember that: You’re ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO DIE TODAY! As a matter of fact, my social media and blog following is sufficiently small that I feel confident predicting that all of us will be here Monday morning. Many of us will be moving slow because of the shift from weekend to workweek sleep schedules. But otherwise we’ll all be none the worse for wear.
Terrific analysis of how Apple’s PR team under Katie Cotton (who retired this week) successfully played tech journalists in the pageview-hungry environment of the post-2000s:
Apple rumors, no matter how silly, got clicks. Apple announcements, no matter how incremental, got clicks. Anti-Apple screeds, no matter how righteous the rant or obvious the troll, got clicks.
That last point is important: There is a perception among Apple-haters that people write fawning Apple articles to generate pageviews. That works — but it also works to write an irrational anti-Apple rant. That’ll get you lots of pageviews too. The Internet is an echo chamber, and people click on the headlines that reinforce their views.
Which isn’t to say that Apple is above criticism. There are legitimate reasons to criticize Apple, and to hate it too.
And Apple events — those carefully orchestrated infomercials/passion plays that are as much as part of Jobs’ legacy as any single product — were year-making page-view generators for tech-media publications. No one was more aware that the vast majority of these tech publications were — and many still are — dependent on page views driven by any kind of Apple coverage to sell advertising than Cotton and Apple’s public relations team.
Entry into those events could make or break a quarter’s traffic goals, even for publications that weren’t necessarily gadget-oriented. And for those that were, the ability to send multiple staffers to live blog Apple events and generate dozens of SEO-friendly stories in the immediate aftermath became an essential part of their business plan. Whenever Apple announced an event every single publishing organization with even a tangential angle on technology scurried to get a seat in the auditorium because their readers demanded Apple coverage in ever-growing numbers.
[A]pple’s PR strategy merely parlayed the intense interest in its products against an extremely competitive tech media landscape with a business model oriented around page views. This strategy surely did not make it many friends in the media world, but for a very long time, media companies needed Apple more than Apple needed media companies.
Someday that relationship will come more into balance. And whoever steps into Cotton’s shoes is going to have some interesting decisions to make should Apple decide it needs to court the media, after more than a decade of animosity.
That’s going to be an interesting transition to watch. Everything that rises inevitably comes down; Apple will inevitably start shipping some dud products and hit unprofitable quarters. What happens when the press turns on them? I’ve seen companies go through that transition — their executives and PR people don’t give interviews, they just scold reporter for failing to see how wonderful the company is. Eventually, the company either turns itself around or gets acquired at a discount and the name is all but forgotten. IBM did one, Digital Equipment did the other.
I covered Apple as a big part of my job 2007-2009. It was a wonderful and frustrating experience. Obviously, I still follow the company. But I’m glad my paycheck no longer depends, even in part, on covering them.
On the other hand: I’m glad I got to see an actual Steve Jobs keynote live. It was a minor keynote, introducing the MacBook Air in 2008. But I got to see it. It’s like having seen Hendrix perform “All Along the Watchtower” or Olivier do Hamlet.
He flagrantly violated antitrust laws that carry explicit criminal penalties.
Of the three instances cited in this article:
The ebook case is just stupid. Apple was simply not a monopolist in the ebook market. Amazon came closest to that title by that time, and the federal prosecution of Apple arguably sealed Amazon’s monopolist status. So, thanks, Justice Department!
The options backdating scandal was like cheating on taxes — wrong, but I can’t get worked up about it.
But the no-poaching agreement among Silicon Valley tech firms that resulted in depressed salaries — that was shameful and a blot on Jobs’s legacy.
Steve Jobs had a famous reality distortion field; he believed the rules of the world did not apply to him. That allowed Apple to create brilliant, impossible products. But reportedly the cancer that killed Jobs is actually fairly straightforward to fix, but Jobs believed the laws of medical science did not apply to him. He thought he could heal himself using quack dietary cures, and by the time he learned better, it was too late. If that is the case, then Jobs fits the classic archetype of the tragic hero, a great man whose greatest strength is also his fatal flaw.
It was 1992 or so. Jobs had been out of Apple for years. Apple was a struggling vendor with a couple of niche products. Jobs was now CEO of NeXT, which made a $10,000 workstation that looked a lot like the Mac would ten years later. But at that time it was an expensive white elephant. The NeXTstation ran an operating system based on software called Unix, and I was a senior editor at a publication called Unix Today.
I was scheduled to do a phone interview with Jobs about something NeXT-related. It was going pretty well. He then mentioned something about NeXT earnings, which was a slip on his part. He said, “That was off the record.” I said, automatically, “I’m sorry, but going off the record is an agreement, and I won’t agree to that.”
He said, “Then this interview is over.” And he hung up on me.
See? I told you this story is a lot less interesting than you’d think.
I was shaken up by the event, and I think the PR person on the call was too. We talked about it a while, and she said, “Don’t worry about it. Steve can be like that.”
And Steve and I never talked again. And I started following Apple closely 15 years later, and had trouble getting access to them. But I don’t think that had anything to do with my earlier encounter with Jobs. Apple is like that. Maybe that will change under new management, but I don’t expect it to.
I may have interviewed or met with Jobs at other times earlier in my career. I don’t recall. I started covering technology a couple of years after Jobs had already been kicked out of Apple. Jobs wasn’t STEVE JOBS!! back then. He was an impressive figure, but he was also kind of a has-been, a one-hit wonder. He was an important person, but I’ve interviewed a lot of important people, and very few of them intimidate me. The ones who intimidate me tend to be personal heroes, and often less famous and admired generally than some celebrities I’ve interviewed.
Later on, of course, Jobs became one of the greatest businessmen to have ever walked the Earth, and one of my personal heroes. But that was later. And one of the things that made him one of my personal heroes is that he came back from being a has-been. It gives hope to the rest of us underachievers.
I handled that interview badly. Later, when in the same situation, I just keep my mouth shut until I decide whether I even want to use the information. Because I never did use that earnings information; it wasn’t something our readers at the time were interested in.