There is a new retrospective book about Apple that’s just out, “After Steve: how Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul“, by Tripp Mickle. It sounds like a good book with some good stories. But many Apple followers are pointing out the flaws in the narrative. It seems the author doesn’t really “get” Apple.
But Apple is a weird company. Their business model, organization structure and decision-making confound many people in the business And while the author has some great first-hand accounts of what went on, it’s not the same as Being There.
If you want a good sense of how the story-telling can go right, I recommend “Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs“, by Ken Kocienda. A big part of the reason this is a better book is because this author “was there”. Ken was Principle Engineer of iPhone Software at Apple, and specifically the DRI (Directly Responsible Individual) for the original iPhone keyboard. This story is from an earlier period, when Steve Jobs was still alive, but what’s important is that the narrative he presents of how things worked, and why, runs well with everything long followers of Apple understand about the company.
But Being There doesn’t solve everything. You still get differing perspectives. I’ve been in Silicon Valley a long time, and like most people here I have my own experiences of Being There. But when I talk to colleagues about “the good old days”, is remarkable how differently we remember some things. And I’m not talking about memories fading with time. We were looking at events from different perspectives, and with different information (and biases, and understanding), so we came away with our own differing narratives of how things worked, and why.
So I don’t judge this new book about Apple based on a simple question of whether the author got the story fully right. The question is whether it adds something valuable to the story. From the reviews, I think it’s worth a shot, so I’ll be picking the book up.