In numerous passages, Isaacson will quote Jobs saying something perfectly truthful, and then follow it up with a claim that Jobs is lying. Most of the time, he doesn't provide any evidence that Jobs is lying, just the assertion, because, as Isaacson is careful to tell us many times in the book, Jobs is famous for his "reality distortion field". I guess this means that Isaacson doesn't have to back up his assertions, and of course Steve Jobs isn't around to defend himself.
One example of this is Jobs talking about how NeXT's software gave the Mac new life. Isaacson says this is a lie, and then goes on to quote Bill Gates who says none of the NeXT code made it into OS X. Now, this is an obvious and bald faced lie on Gates' part, but Isaacson doesn't know any better. He's decided that Jobs is a liar, and therefore , whenever someone says anything that disagrees, it must be evidence that Jobs was lying.
Reality is, OS X is NeXTSTEP with the Mac UI put on top of it, and at this point another 10 years of evolution. Gates was lying for whatever reasons Gates lies (and gates really is pathological in this regard).
Another example is how he treats the statements of Alvy Ray Smith. One of the really nice things about the PBS show on Jobs a few weeks ago was getting to see Alvy. He's clearly disgruntled. And this makes sense, given the extreme difficulties Pixar had in the early years before they were able to start doing features. As a result, as the company kept needing money, and since they couldn't' get outside Capital, they kept using Jobs' capital, and other founders would get diluted as Jobs would buy more and more shares by putting more and more money into it to keep it afloat. In Isaacson's book, however, this isn't really explained, and it comes off as if Jobs was ripping off the others. Isaacson takes Alvy at face value.... but doesn't seem to ask Catmull or others about it.
This makes Isaacson a sucker for anyone who has any "dirt" on Jobs, and he clearly didn't ask Steve about many of these claims (or if he did, he didn't put Steve's response in the book.)
The book is an excellent piece of propaganda. It pretends to glorify someone who it is obvious the public recognizes as a major positive impact on society, while subtly and at every turn, engaging in character assassination.
For the past 30 years, I've seen constant repetition of lies about Apple. I'm not really surprised to see Isaacson do a hatchet job-- as every other book about Jobs has been one as well. His is a little more classy, but a hatchet job none the less.
If you think you've got nothing to learn form Steve Jobs, or that he was a bad guy, well, that reflects a lot more on you than on him.
It's sad that, now that he's died, it seems the haters-- all of whom seem to be completely ignorant about the history of Apple and constantly repeating the same mindless party line-- feel that they are free to keep posting these bullshit stories and voting them up.
Its time to stop. I know you kids think its cool to bash Steve Jobs because "android android derp derp derp!" but this is Hacker News. This is the site for technology enthusiasts who want to do Startups. If you don't respect Steve Jobs for taking a garage startup all the way to being larger than Exxon Mobile in 30 years, by doing a small number of products exceedingly well, I don't think you should be hanging out here.
 I've had Apple products for 25+ years. I've been following the company for that long and have met a fair number of their executives over the years and a lot of Apple employees. I'm extremely well versed in all things Apple, to the point that I caught many innocent errors in the book. There are things I don't know about, of course, such as current plans, and things Jobs said that were private. But when I say "something perfectly truthful", I mean, the statement is something I know to be a fact from an independant source (not Steve Jobs) and it is at least a fair statement of the facts (leaving room for some of the statements being opinions. On at least one occasion, Isaacson calls an opinion a lie.)
When I buy something, I own it, period. I should be able to reverse engineer anything on the market, because I obtained the copy.
I don't give a damn about how much Apple have in its bank. Google is fucking rich too. But, if Apple win the mobile war, we are screwed as far as freedom and ownership is concerned.
I very much respect Steve Job for his ability to build a company and innovate, but it doesn't mean that he get to choose the models that damage our freedom in the long run.
I don't really care about how inferior Android is to the Iphone. I use it, and if necessary, I can extend it without permission from Google.
We are hackers. What is it that we do? We hack things and make it better. Apple doesn't want us to modify the phone that we own and make it better. Excuse me?
Does it not concern you that Apple exhibit control freak behaviors regarding iphone? What if it dominate the market and crush all competitors? This is the kind of level that you don't even see in microsoft regarding window operating system.
If android dominate and crush iphone and apple tomorrow, that is fine with me. Somebody can alway polish their own android version and make it like the magical apple products that I hear so much about.
Steve Job was not a hacker.
Speaking very broadly, Apple aren't hackers, they're artists. Michaelangelo's intention wasn't to let the Pope knock himself out altering the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
And if you really do want to alter an iPhone--well, you can. It's not designed to be easy, but there's no real legal or physical barrier to you doing so. To most cell phone users, Android's openness doesn't mean they have freedom to change the software on their phones--their carriers lock it down for them. It only means that they get a shittier phone, thanks to those very same carriers and their ability to bundle crapware.
I hate the 'apple makes most of the profits' line that gets talked about all the time (even though true), but if what you say is really so easy then why hasn't someone or some company done it?
Things is, it's not easy. This is where techies (myself included) often miss there is something beyond a feature list. How those features are combined into a package becomes more like art than another math problem to solve. And like art, it is very hard to create, but easy to notice when it is done right. From what I have seen to date, Apple gets the art part right much more often than the Android phones.
But yes, manufactured consumer gadgets can have artistic qualities.
Well, this means there is no discussion possible about art.
This is a kind of relativism. Other kind of relativism include moral relativism ("What is good or bad changes with person to person"), and cognitive relativism ("Truth changes with person to person").
Sorry to tell you this, but relativism is sometime dangerous (eg. one could say that, for some people, it is considered "good" to rape old ladies), and often just wrong (you'd have hard time to find someone who would honestly declare that Bach's music or Chinese landscape paintings is really not art).
Apple's products have many impressing qualities, they are beautifully designed, engage their owners a lot, etc. Art do not need to come into the picture.
Someone might consider it good to rape old ladies, and that is their honest belief, doesn't mean I can't call them out on it and try to make them 'believe' otherwise.
I never said that Bach's music isn't art, I just said that Apple's products can be viewed to be art just as much as a painting can be. You can argue if it is as pure, and what value it has in the artistic world but you can't argue if it is or isn't art. Art's way too vague for that kind of stuff.
In my mind, technology is a very powerful side-effect of art, and therefore it can be viewed as art just as much as a painting it.
My other point I was making is that if someone doesn't wish to discuss their values of art, than you've already lost the discussion because anything you say will be taken with a grain of salt. 99% of the discussions that go on in the world aren't of this case, but sometimes they are and I was just saying that we have to be mindful of those cases.
The latest open source version of Android was released in December 2010.
Many Android phones cannot be rooted without exploits.
There is continual activity on the Android source tree with updates for most versions of the platform well after December last year. The well publicised exclusion is Honeycomb and we can only speculate why Google kept that one to themselves (incomplete/Kindle Fire depending on your Android hate level).
Even if you insist that Android is not open in the most complete sense, you have to agree it is MORE open than iOS which makes it more appealing to some people.
Android is certainly more open than iOS in many aspects, yet that openness does not always lead to freedom for its users.
Of course, these same users would also be able to jailbreak an iPhone, but does that lock you out of the Apple loop (i.e. App store, Siri, iCloud)? I honestly don't know so that is not a rhetorical question.
Bringing this in a full circle and back to topic, I'm sure Steve Jobs pushy attitude is one of the reasons (perhaps the only reason) iPhone's aren't tainted with carrier garbage and upgrade(less) shenanigans. Just because it worked for him doesn't mean it will work for you.
There was barely an indie developer scene for mobile before the iphone.
This is also the reason most efforts on "artist apps" are for iOS. Fragmentation hurts!
Sentences like this are why the phrase "mobile war" should be taken away from all of us and placed on the high shelf next to the cookie jar. "Mobile war" is an exciting idea – much more exciting than "competitive mobile marketplace" – and so we like to think in these terms despite how misleading they are.
There is no mobile war. Apple is not out to extinguish Android. Google's not out to extinguish the iPhone. We're talking about a market of how many people, half a billion?, a billion?, billions?, and that many people means that everybody's going to want something different.
Me? I love my iPhone 4. I'm not a code hacker, see. My iPhone is the tool I use to hack the world around me. It gives me a camera (photo/HD video) that I can whip out at any moment. It lets me access my bank on the fly. It's got all the cutting-edge casual games I'm researching as part of my study on games. It lets me write on the fly (poetry, thoughts, essays) and have my writing waiting on my computer when I get back. It's an ambient music generator and a PDF reader that plays public radio and Pandora and, with the new GarageBand, is also my ideal recording device, since I prefer convenience of location to anything else. Now I can put a microphone in a backpack and walk to a park with some friends and record tracks with incredible ease. That, to me, is a hack.
I'm pretty much a huge Apple fan, but I understand people who aren't. Which is why I find lines like
> If android dominate and crush iphone and apple tomorrow, that is fine with me. Somebody can alway polish their own android version and make it like the magical apple products that I hear so much about.
disquieting. You have your Android phone! Why must you wish misfortune on my choice? I know far more Android fans who wish for Apple's demise than I know Apple fans who want Google to go under. Choice is good! And part of that choice is choosing what the focus of your "hacks" are. For me it's not computers, so I can benefit from a closed computer. For you it is computers, and we have open source.
The other disquieting thing about your comment, to me, is that you think Apple's "magic" is simply a matter of polish. As if you just wipe it with a rag for a few months and suddenly it gleams. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of UI/UX design. Achieving the level of elegance that Apple products frequently (not always) possess requires tremendous focus and talent. What's more, Apple's product polish doesn't just extend to their own software: they have a great history of encouraging top-notch developers to design for them. My favorite applications aren't Apple's apps; things like Notational Velocity, Coda, Sparrow, and Reeder have all made my life significantly simpler, and it's no coincidence that they were all designed by Mac-users for a Mac environment. Which is why even though Microsoft's new mobile OS is itself elegant and beautiful, I still much prefer the iPhone to Windows. It's where all the apps are. Not because Apple was the first to launch an App Store (though that helps), but because Apple encourages the perfectionism and user focus that makes its top applications great.
We can argue the semantics of what counts as hacker within your personal taxonomy all day, but that's useless. Jobs did great things that benefitted a lot of people, myself included.
The choices we have will at some point stop being choices. They will stop to exists and whatever platform wins, get to dictate what rules are we going to play by.
The other disquieting thing about your comment, to me, is that you think Apple's "magic" is simply a matter of polish. As if you just wipe it with a rag for a few months and suddenly it gleams. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of UI/UX design. Achieving the level of elegance that Apple products frequently (not always) possess requires tremendous focus and talent.
It doesn't mean that you have to dictate, control, censor what apps are allowed in your store, make developers sell their soul to you, and so on. You do not have to be a control freak.
If you believe the history of the mobile phone is like the history of the desktop, then you're a poor student of history. At the very least, saying that the two are the same is far enough from a given that evidence of that situation should be provided.
Also, tip for arguing - the hyperbole of phrases like "make developers sell your soul to you" makes your argument hard to take seriously.
Because people like this are hypocrites… they want to take your choice away, and scream and fight and claw madly if they don't get their choice.
Mentally, these people are still children. They look at everything (e.g. alll of business) as it if it is a zero-sum game. They take everything personally.
It's hard not to be offended when you think a phone OS is tied intimately to who you are. Sad, but true.
The point was that it is short-sighted of someone to say it would be evil if (say) Apple won the mobile war, but would be good if Google won the mobile war. Competition is a win-win situation for consumers, and a lack of competition only encourages stagnancy, which is one of the greatest evils of the creative world.
No one is forcing anyone to buy any phone. If you want to invent your own smart phone then you are free to do so.
Microsoft had 'won' and we all lost our freedom to use software that doesn't suck.
Luckily, this was a temporary state. I promise you, if Apple 'wins' the mobile war, their victory will not affect you for long.
Further more, if Android 'wins', we're much more screwed. I've already lived in a world of feature phones controlled by the carriers. I did not like it one bit and I had far less freedom than I do now with my iPhone.
None of us should feel entitled to be able to hack and reverse engineer anything! If a cdeveloper or company is nice enough to open source something then that's awesome! If you don't like proprietary software then don't buy it. If you want to hack something, make it from scratch or find an open source base for it.
If I run a software company and I'm making something folks really enjoy and get a lot of use from then I'm entitled to charge for it! They're paying me because I did the hard work to develop a tool they find useful and don't have the time, energy, and often times skill to make themselves. If I let anyone reverse engineer it and see the source then someone like you will go ahead and clone it and now my product is worthless. If I lock my customers into a particular toolset and software environment, the reason is twofold. I want to make some money! And that lock in provides a better experience for my customers. I'm not hiding it and no one is forced to buy my products. But they do because it's the best option for their needs.
Open source is great, free software is almost like a cult. What's so bad about making a profit? Why should programmers give away source free but CocaCola is free to keep their secret recipe?do programmers lack the need for food, shelter, and the money to acquire those things?
And the only war in mobile is between companies. There's also this silly war of ideas between the "open" Android platform and iOS. But the real winner is the consumer. There will always be competition. iOS cannot get 100% market share. So consumers have a choice. If the current choices don't suit certain people who want more "freedom" then you're free to start your own mobile platform and build a business around it. And when that happens I wonder if your current attitude toward wanting everything free will still hold. The only freedom afforded by the FOSS movement is the freedom to work your ass off on a piece of software and subsequently starve for lack of income. The FOSS belief that ALL software should free and open source makes it an extremist view. There is a place for both free and proprietary technology in our world. Most of us have to eat and we don't own a farm to grow our own.
I'm reminded of the naive thinking of a teenager whenever I hear rhetoric like this. This ain't no hippie commune.
Yes we should be.
> I'm reminded of the naive thinking of a teenager whenever I hear rhetoric like this. This ain't no hippie commune.
This isn't a get rich quick commune either.
Alternative viewpoints can and do exist on a community this large, neither you nor the OP speak for all of us.
That's the thing. I wasn't against profit at all. We all know that Google is doing android to protecting its bottom line. That doesn't bother me in the slightest.
Isaacson, Walter (2011-10-24). Steve Jobs (pp. 365-367). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
lacking in technical knowledge, definitely; but your characterization of it is absurd.
This isn't the first book, article or interview that openly discusses Steve Jobs darker side. I haven't read the book, I'm not a Steve Jobs fan.
The book could very well be a hack job, but I doubt it. Nobody is a perfect human being. A book which follows both the amazing successes and the temperament and attitude which created them in an honest way is likely an effort to humanize Steve Jobs. I can understand why you wouldn't want your idol to be humanized. Why you don't want to read about their flaws. But at the same time, Steve Jobs was human.
I believe you are correct about Next and OS X, and I can't imagine bill gates saying 'none of the NeXT code made it into OS X'. Aren't they both still today based on the same kernel? Maybe Issacson misunderstood something, or maybe you misread it.
Either way, my point is that Steve Jobs flaws are widely known, but some of these flaws may have been responsible for his business success, some may have been detrimental to his personl successes. This we'll never know.
What we do know is that the man wasn't a god or a saint. He was a man, with character flaws just like the rest of us.
You seem to have taken it very personally, but I seem to recall the 60 Minutes piece saying that Steve didn't want to see the book, but gave his wife the responsibility of making sure it was true and fair.
It is still a hatchet job if the biographer gleefully presents false information from sources without checking the facts.
Still, it nerves me a lot that you think you know when one should hang on Hacker news. This place is full of interesting technological reads; should I stop coming here because of how I think of Steve Jobs or startups or free market in general. I don't think so.
But if we have nothing to contribute beyond ideological ax-grinding, we should just read, not comment or vote.
Steve Jobs was obsessed with his mainstream legacy, not the poorly informed opinions of a bunch of narrow-minded tech news enthusiasts. His mainstream legacy hasn't changed because of this book.
For those who want a lot of clear examples of the issues nirvana is highlighting, do yourself a favor and listen to this week's episode ("The Wrong Guy", http://5by5.tv/hypercritical), as well as the upcoming bonus episode.
Also, no, this isn't Startup News, this isn't Entrepreneur News, this is Hacker News, and I don't think you should discard what that implies about the community.
I don't agree that the labor of muscles and the labor of the mind are distinct incompatible movements. It takes a strong mind to properly control muscles. Why use labor haphazardly when thinking allows the use more effectively?
Then there is research showing that exercise improves cognitive function. To tie it back to the article at hand, SJ seemed to love his long walks.
I joined Hacker News a long time ago. I think it's shameful that people here now don't know any better -- or don't have the brains -- than to say that it doesn't matter if the book is full of bald-faced lies, because Steve Jobs was not a nice man, or because the iPhone isn't "open."
What a load of brainless boloney.
In the old HN, this post of yours would have triggered an interesting discussion about other lies found in the book, and/or stories & facts (real ones) omitted, and/or the perils of biography in general.
So, just so you know, some of us old guard are still here, appreciating what you're doing.