Miscellaneous Ramblings

Time Magazine on Jobs and Apple

Plus: Jobs on Jobs, Quittner on the New iMacs

Charles Moore - 15 Oct. 1999 - Tip Jar

A couple of years ago, Time magazine was in the vanguard of mainstream media publications predicting Apple's imminent demise. This week (Oct 18 issue) Steve Jobs is on the cover of Time, which features a spread of four Jobs/Apple related stories.

In the main cover story, Steve's Two Jobs, Michael Krantz profiles Jobs' dichotomized focus as head of both Apple and Pixar Animation Studios. Krantz notes that Jobs really does show up for work most days in shorts and surfer Ts, and that he has problems with "anger-management issues," and also relates a number of fascinating details about Jobs' family life and workday scheduling.

An interesting window on Jobs' vision for Apple is provided in his quoted comment: "The roots of Apple were to build computers for people, not for corporations . . . The world doesn't need another Dell or Compaq."

Krantz also documents the division of management responsibility at Apple: Jonathan Ive at design; Avi Tevanian at software; Jon Rubinstein at engineering; Tim Cook at manufacturing; and senior vice president of worldwide sales Mitch Mandich pulling it all together.

As for Jobs' own personal division of labor, he says he rises at six a.m., works for an hour or so at home, sees his kids off to school, and arrives at Apple by eight or nine. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't do stuff for Pixar," Jobs told Krantz, "even if I'm not physically there. And there's not a day that I'm at Pixar that I don't do stuff for Apple."

As for Jobs' infamous temper, his friend John Patrick Crecine tells Krantz that while "Steve might be capable of reducing someone to tears . . . it's not because he's mean spirited; it's because he's absolutely single minded, almost manic, in his pursuit of quality and excellence."

Krantz says that Jobs' closest colleague at Apple is Englishman Jonathan Ive, the guy responsible for the paradigm-busting industrial design of the iMac and iBook. According to Ive, Jobs has been intimately involved with the design process of these Apple products.

I've relates how when he first used a Mac, his over arching impression was of painstaking attention to detail - the "elegance" factor that seems lost on the Wintel crowd. Ive recalls remarking to himself, "That's remarkable. Why did they care so much?'"

Of course this is the mainstream press, and no article about Apple in that milieu is ever complete without the obligatory musing over Apple's viability as a niche player in the computer marketplace. Krantz notes that while "Apple's 12% home-computer market share is a big improvement over 6%, it still leaves the Mac on the margins - a minority desktop operating system. . . ."

Nevertheless, this is overall a fair and captivating portrait of the man Mac-users tend to regard in complex love-hate terms. Personally, I'm glad Steve Jobs is at Apple's helm, and I hope the "interim CEO for life" quips are accurate.

Jobs on Jobs

In addition to the overview article, Time has also published a lengthy direct interview, Steve Jobs at 44, between Michael Krantz and Steve Jobs. Among topics discussed:

  • Differences and Similarities Between Apple and Pixar
  • His Role At Pixar
  • Apple's Product Lines (down from 15 to four since Jobs took over - "We've been working too hard")
  • Apple's Vertical Integration
  • Why He Isn't the Only Important Person
  • The Promise of the Broadband Web
  • The Apple Corporate Cafeteria
  • Palo Alto Development
  • The Word 'Broadband' ("My personal belief is that you shouldn't use a word like broadband.")
  • Reinventing Apple (" . . . there was nobody building computers for people")
  • The Question of Art. Vs. Technology ("I've never believed that they're separate")
  • The Apple II
  • This Exciting Moment in History
  • Whether He Has Changed As He Got Older
  • How Being a Family Man Changes Your Work Priorities
  • What His Typical Workday Is Like
  • How He'd Describe His Job ("My job is thinking and working with people and meeting and email.")
  • Managing All These People
  • Answering Apple Email
  • Hollywood and Silicon Valley

Great stuff!

Quittner On The New iMac

As part of the Apple/Jobs suite, there is also a short review of the new iMacs, Meet the New Macintosh, by tech journalist Jonathan Quittner, a former Mac user who backwards-migrated to the Dark Side a couple of years ago.

"With its overhaul of the popular iMac," says Quittner, "Apple has again created a masterpiece of design."

But is there substance under all that style? (As a former Mac user, he has to ask?) Answer: "I am generally pleased with the machine and would recommend it for most home users - especially any first-time buyer."

Hmmmm, sounds like a subtle variation on the old PC innuendo that "Macs are OK for women and kids, but real men use PCs."

To be fair to Joshua, he does note that "Under the hood, you get terrific value," citing the 128 MB of RAM, a 13 GB hard drive, DVD drive, and fast graphics card.

On the other hand, Quittner is skeptical about the new iMac's fanless convection cooling system, noting that while the silence is truly welcome, the machine seems to get pretty hot, and he wonders what this will do for component reliability.

He also dislikes the hockey-puck mouse - can't disagree with him there.

All in all a pretty fair take on the new iMac from a PC-convert, at least until Joshua insists on bringing up the old saw about problems finding enough software for the Mac as compared with the PC. It does get tiresome. LEM

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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