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Apple Throws Support Behind Steve Jobs Biography, Offers Exclusive iBooks Preview

Apple may not have initially liked Becoming Steve Jobs, the Steve Jobs biography by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli which is coming out tomorrow, but Geekwire and iDownload blog report that the tech company is now showing considerable support for the book.

To start with, Apple is heavily promoting the book in iBooks, and  several members of senior management have also given interviews with the NY Times, the New Yorker, and Fast Company, and tweeted their support of the book.

Apple has been pushing an exclusive sneak peek which includes the prologue and first chapter of the book, through its iBooks Twitter accounts,  iTunes marketing emails, and in a banner on the iBookstore’s rotating carousel.


I just got the sample myself, and I can tell you that it includes Schlender’s first interview with Jobs after he founded NeXT (shortly after he was booted from Apple in the mid-1980s).

I’m not sure I’m going to buy the book, although I do find it interesting that we’re seeing a shift in Apple’s social dynamic as the book is about to hit store shelves.

The authorized biography of Steve Jobs, as approved by the Steve-ness himself, was written by Walter Isaacson and published 3 years ago. It was based on over 100 interviews, extensive research, and numerous talks with Jobs.

You would think that this book would be the final word on Jobs, but apparently it no longer meets with Apple’s approval. In an interview with Fast Company, Tim Cook said that the Isaacson biography "was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality". Jony Ive expressed a similar opinion, telling the New Yorker that that "My regard couldn’t be any lower."

"After a long period of reflection following Steve’s death, we felt a sense of responsibility to say more about the Steve we knew," Apple spokesperson Steve Dowling told The New York Times. "We decided to participate in Brent and Rick’s book because of Brent’s long relationship with Steve, which gave him a unique perspective on Steve’s life. The book captures Steve better than anything else we’ve seen, and we are happy we decided to participate."

Geekwire believes that Apple’s open and enthusiastic support for Becoming Steve Jobs marks a significant cultural shift at Apple since Steve Jobs' death, and that the once notoriously secretive has since opened up for more interviews with senior management.

Me, I’m not so sure. Rather than true openness,  I think we’re just seeing a different marketing strategy playing out – one which focuses on Apple management as people, rather than Apple as a technical powerhouse.

It’s six of one and a half a dozen of the other, as far as I am concerned.

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Mackay Bell March 23, 2015 um 7:40 pm

I thought Walter Isaacson’s biography was terrible. There was very little new in it, except for a lot more detail on all the bad things he did. Which is all fine, but you’d think Isaacson might have discovered something nice he did while he was at it. And it was pretty boring. A long hard depressing read.

Perhaps Jobs made a huge mistake trusting Isaacson, or maybe Jobs wanted a long, detailed attack on all his faults, along with his own half-hearted explanations. Maybe he figured it was better to clear the air for the record. (Particularly his unquestionably bad behavior to his first daughter.) For all of Jobs showmanship, he never tried to pump himself up outside his commitment to excellence at Apple. Unlike some billionaires, he didn’t push to expose his work for charities, or that he was really a great musician, or try to make himself out as some kind of humanitarian or brilliant philosopher. He stuck to taking about what he knew, and he was pretty brilliant at that. (For example, he stayed pretty behind the scenes at Pixar, not trying to claim credit for being a genius filmmaker.)

I think Apple fans have been desperate for a better biography since Isaacson’s came out. That’s why I started working on my own version. There’s a feeling that no one has yet captured the Jobs that we all experienced watching him over the years.

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