Sunday, November 6, 2011

Review of Steve Jobs Biography and the iPhone 4s

I just finished the Steve Jobs bio by Walter Isaacson. This has been reviewed to death already so I'll make just a few new observations.

First, Jobs was worth less than $10 billion (which is #39 in the U.S.) despite having created the most valuable company in the world by market cap, and also having cleared several billion in the sale of Pixar to Disney in 2006. Jobs was oddly unmotivated by money - perhaps because he became rich at such a young age. He could have been much richer, for example when Larry Ellison offered to back him in taking Apple private.

Something else odd about Jobs was that he lacked appreciation for science. This is obvious in his fad diets and reluctance to properly treat his illness, but also reflected in his form above function mentality. For example, he liked to design a case for a product before thinking about components that would go inside. The puzzle is how that could have resulted in phenomenal products like the iPhone.

But I can remember when the Macintosh and Apple software were really frustrating to use. Their office suite was a joke for years and the Mac OS X user interface is laughable. The Jobs fanaticism - leaving fans out of computers - resulted in his fair share of clunkers.

I wonder to what extent the recent string of successes resulted from the Jobs design genius finally being paired with competent "function" people, or technologies that allowed his ideas to be implemented in workable fashion? I give the book a 4/5.

The new iPhone 4s is fantastic. It is much much faster than a 3G thanks to the new dual-core processor and quadrupled RAM. The Siri voice recognition is surprisingly good although I don't find that feature especially useful in practice. The camera quality (and speed) is much better and the display is fantastic. This is a 5/5.

3 comments:

Eric said...

The puzzle is how that could have resulted in phenomenal products like the iPhone.

AAPL has very good engineers to fill the space inside the package; that fact should go a long way toward solving the 'puzzle'.

This product quality has produced a legion of very loyal customers.

AAPL's skillful marketing has taken advantage of all that, projecting and protecting the cache of the AAPL brand, which helps to command premium prices.

By all appearances AAPL has top notch supply chain and vendor management -- meaning it preserves high margins.

It's just a very well run company.

CP said...

I should've talked more in this review about what an unstable jerk Jobs was.

The story of how he responded (irrationally) to his disease and the story of his first daughter are instructive:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Brennan-Jobs

CP said...

"Bill Burr Doesn't Believe The Steve Jobs Hype - CONAN on TBS"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew6fv9UUlQ8#t=13