Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book 10: J is for Jobs

Steve JobsSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am an Apple geek - Windows makes me shudder! - and have been wanting to read this biography of Steve Jobs since it was published at the end of last year. I was intrigued to find out what made Jobs tick and just how he managed to come up with products that have, quite literally, changed the world - graphical user interfaces for computers (remember the DOS prompts that they replaced?), digital music players, smartphones and tablet computers. Apple was the first company to popularise all of those products because in each case it produced something simple, beautiful and user friendly.

So how did Jobs do it? By being a flawed genius. He knew when something was right, he knew good design, and his aim was always to make the best possible product rather than to maximize profits. He was a visionary who refused to do market research because he didn't care what customers thought they wanted - his aim was to make the things they didn't yet know that they would want. The flaws? He was a control freak, temperamental, self-centred and often utterly horrendous to deal with - yet that control freakery and his determination that the laws of the possible didn't apply to him or to Apple (people who knew him called it his reality distortion field) meant that time and again he was able to achieve the seemingly impossible. It may also ultimately have killed him, or at least shortened his life, because his refusal to accept that it was necessary led him to put off surgery on his pancreatic cancer for several months.

The book was written at Jobs' instigation and with his approval, though he knew that it would not always be flattering. It is well written, and so far as I can tell well researched and balanced. I found the insight into Jobs' personality and the history of the various Apple products fascinating. Goodreads marker for 5 stars is "absolutely amazing", so maybe not quite a 5 star but if I could I'd give it a 4 and a half.


Run Quilt Knit Write said...

I've got this one on my pile - so thanks for the thumbs up!

Missus Wookie said...

I've got this in my 'if I see if cheap in a second hand' list or I might try it at the library.

Thanks for the review.