Inside Steve's Brain
by Leander Kahney, Portfolio, 304 pages, $23.95, Hardcover, April 2008, ISBN 9781591841982
For four decades, the word Apple has conjured up more than just keeping the doctor away. Adding the iPod, iTunes and iPhone to that mix only strengthens the long-lasting brand that shares the fruit's name. But what makes it tick? What's at the heart of this company? Leander Kahney answers those questions in this book by focusing on its sometimes controversial CEO, Steve Jobs.
Kahney delves into Jobs' world from the very beginnings of the computer business he created with his childhood friend, Steve Wozniak. They made what would eventually be known as the first Apple computer in a garage, and then recruited other friends to help build them. Kahney illustrates Jobs' role in the progress of this new technology as more creative and intuitive than scientific. Jobs never graduated college, never took computer technology courses, and certainly never knew how to build one. What he did know is how it should perform, what it should look like and who would use it. He's basically Apple's own test market and built-in guru.
Life has not always been like this for Apple or for Jobs. One may remember the late '80s to mid '90s, when the computer company took hit after hit with slumping sales, sub-standard technology and too many products to control. It was no longer the company Jobs had helped build. At that time, Jobs was helming a company called NeXt and making movies with a little company he helped start called Pixar (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Toy Story). Needless to say, however, Jobs returned to Apple when they needed him the most.
Jobs got rid of the "bozos" at Apple. He realized that too many creative people can be a death-sentence and that Apple had its shortcomings. The company had to get humble, and quick. Before the iPod was released, Apple was just about ready to toss in the towel. But then Jobs stepped in as advisor at the request of then CEO, Gilbert Amelio. What followed was one of the most ambitious comebacks in modern business history. Jobs got rid of departments, products and workers they didn't need, achieving a streamlined business with more focus, drive, determination and ingenuity.
Apple Computer is the big story in this book, but Kahney also takes us a journey into Jobs' brain--from his childhood to adulthood, through his ups and downs--and begins to solve the riddle of Steve Jobs and his business savvy.