Abandoned Apple

Abandoned Apple

Lead review

go-getter Steve Jobs, the man behind Apple.

When Steve Jobs first landed at my desk, I fell in love with the jacket design. Pure and pristine, ‘apple-white’ in background with a huge mug shot of Steve Jobs in stylish
contemplation, ready for the camera.

‘Apple white’? Remember, if God defined the apple to be red, Steve Jobs did it differently. If you think of an apple today, the colour you think of is white, not red! Thanks to Steve Jobs.

Back to the jacket then. The jacket design was as clean and clear as Steve Jobs would have wanted it to be. Impractical as Jobs himself: Yes. The jacket will soil with the continued long handling it will require to read this 571-page tome. But clean. And single-mindedly focused on Steve Jobs. The guy behind it all.

Who hasn’t heard of Steve Jobs by now? My driver says he knows the guy. My cousin’s mother-in-law says she saw him on television the day he died. Many know Jobs only after his death, but the fact is that the man is known by all. Steve Jobs, in some way or the other, touched every life there was to touch, either with his
products or with envy or glee for what he has done for the world with friendly
technology that touched lives and made them richer for it.

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, does a great bit of elaborately
researched justice to the persona of Steve Jobs. This is true at least of those parts of the persona Steve Jobs chose to part with for public consumption. This is, of course, not to say that Isaacson has not done justice through an elaborate process of work and interview and it is equally not to say that Isaacson tells us only what is palatable to the persona of Jobs.

Isaacson has done a lot, but as I discovered on going through this massive account, no one book can do justice to the multiple persona of Steve Jobs. There are pieces of Steve Jobs painstakingly put together, but somehow the jigsaw that is Jobs is not complete. The pieces are all there, but there is something missing for sure.

The small little pieces put together painstakingly in this book tell us many things about this guy who revolutionised several spaces. Personal computers, animated movies, music phones, tablet computing and digital publishing to name a few. The 140 interviews that went to make this book happen just as Steve Jobs breathed his last, bring us to a man who is not all that perfect as all of us would want to believe.

Steve Jobs got his girlfriend pregnant when he was 23 and botched it all up in terms of how he handled it. Steve jobs was greedy all the time and there are live accusations from all around that some of the best ideas he commercialised were stolen from someone else. Either stolen outright, or paid way too little for what was delivered.

The guy was obsessive about quality and crazy as a coot when it came to exciting new ideas such as those that informed him that he needn’t bathe for days if he switched to a complete fruit diet. Never mind the stink he created all around his personal living and working space. He followed it diligently, to the chagrin and smelly-discomfort of all around.

Steve Jobs was therefore as flawed as they came, “self-centered” as most call him, mercurial as ever, cranky and tough always, and more. Never mind. He was a genius. And that made up for it all.

Walter Isaacson does justice not only to Steve Jobs in this big white book, but gives us some very special glimpses of Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, John Sculley and Mike Scott as well. All persons who dared to cross the path of Steve Jobs at some point of time or the other. With some, he got his way. With others such as Bill Gates, he fought his way, but didn’t quite get there.

The book has an Indian twist to it as well, as it describes this avid Beatles’ fan’s experience in India, and his brief but truncated spiritual journey with Neem Karoli Baba (an adopted Guru of the 1960s hippie movement), who Jobs did not get to meet due to the Guru’s death. Steve Jobs wanted to get onto this quest of spirituality as he felt that he had a ‘hole’ in his persona that he needed to fill. India was a journey in that quest. India was meant to be the filler.

In many ways, as one reads through Walter Isaacson’s brilliantly laid out prose, one cannot help but feel for a fact that the one constant theme in Jobs’ life was that of abandonment. Something that seemed to have come by as a fact of his abandonment in early life.

Having led the life of an adopted kid, Jobs forever juggled with the thought of being left
aside from it all. As someone abandoned. As someone not wanted. In many ways, this is one theme where Jobs turned turtle. The desire was clear. Steve Jobs was to be one of the best names there was in the business of touching people’s lives through technology. He wanted it. He got it. And how!

This is a nice book to read. A nice book to keep on your book-shelf as well. It looks good. It reads good. Not as good as what Steve jobs himself wrote though. And I am referring to his moving Stanford commencement address in 2005. Read this book and then read that. You get a better glimpse of the man, his passion, and indeed, his mercurial madness.

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