Tuesday, November 30, 2010

iCon: Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business by Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon

iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of BusinessWow! With a title that long, there's not much room left for a review. This book was definitely not a puff piece written by Apple's PR flacks. I thought, at times, that Simon and Young might actually have an axe to grind against Jobs, as they were pretty brutal in their assessment of his character, personality, and ethics.

What was really interesting was the story of how Apple got started and eventually became the powerhouse it is today. The sheer boldness of Jobs' approach to getting the fledgling business its initial funding and bringing his product to market was definitely educational. The political machinations and backstabbing that took place as time went on was both interesting and disturbing.

There was a good bit of information about Pixar, its relationship with Disney, and the story of how they brought their first mega-hit, Toy Story, to theatres. Unfortunately, things bogged down a bit while the authors got sidetracked into lengthy discussions of internal politics at Disney, which I am sure are more thoroughly covered in Eisner's unauthorized biographies and other Magic Kingdom exposes.

Young and Simon also share the backstory on the creation of the iPod and its successors, which have once again catapulted Apple to the top of the business world. The tale of how Jobs got the music industry on board with his music downloading business model, iTunes, shows that he definitely has matured as a businessman over the years.

Anyway, if you're curious about Jobs, Apple, Pixar, etc. this is a pretty good read, except for some of the aforementioned wallowing in office politics that tend to slow things down. Maybe the authors were paid by the word for this one. If I find a tighter tale on the subject, I'll let you know.

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