Steve Jobs trivia from June

As June ends, here are the news items (or should I say pieces of trivia) that caught my attention in the past two weeks:

  • Steve Jobs to be subject of an awful- and cheap-looking comic
    Cult of Mac published on June 15 comics from an upcoming comic book inspiredly entitled Steve Jobs: Co-Founder of Apple… It’s so ugly I am not reposting anything on this blog. Probably zero creativity in the narrative either.
  • The Return of the Doll
    After the original Steve Jobs doll, another doll manufacturer was inspired to build this a 1/6th scale, 12-inch collectible Steve Jobs figurine. Obviously it’s gonna be taken down in the upcoming weeks, if not days. I’m not buying it. 


  • Candid new email from Steve Jobs
    Australian newspaper Herald Sun published a story (again we heard it from Cult of Mac) yesterday about a girl from Melbourne, Hollie, whose difficult life — due to vision problems — was changed thanks to iPad and how easy it makes zooming in on text materials. Steve acknowledgedly replied back the following;

    Thanks for sharing your experience with me. Do you mind if I read your email to a group of our top 100 leaders at Apple?
    Thanks, Steve

    And even asked for a picture of the girl, reproduced below:

    This makes some sense, now that Steve’s habit of taking what he considers to be “Apple’s top 100 people” to a yearly offsite retreat was unveiled in Fortune’s Inside Apple piece. It’s also an habit of his to read his favorite emails to an audience, he’s done so repeatedly in past keynotes.

     

  • iGod
    Last but not least, I stumbled upon a comic last week (can’t find the source, sorry) that echoes to one of my favorite themes, the Apple/religion-Steve/God metaphor. See for yourself:

Did I get Steve Jobs’ turtleneck bill?

Today I decided to share with you a funny story that happened to me two weeks ago. By funny I do not mean amusing but ‘difficult to explain, strange’.

As you may or may not know, I often receive emails at my webmaster email address that are destined to Steve Jobs. The reason is quite simple: people who have little knowledge of Apple’s CEO think all about Steve Jobs.com is his official website. They just click on the ‘Contact’ link thinking their message will go straight to Steve’s famed iPhone email inbox, even though it would take them a 15-second visit to Google to figure out his real and hyper-famous email address.

Anyway, on May 26, I got the following email:

 

To which was attached the very interesting PDF below: Continue reading

Steve Jobs unveils his plans for Apple’s future campus

Finally! It was five years ago that Steve Jobs first came to the Cupertino City Council to unveil Apple’s plan to build a new campus in that city to accomodate their ever-growing workforce… Since then, not much had happened, besides Apple having its people move to HP’s former (and frankly quite ugly) offices.

Well, three days after the WWDC keynote, Steve made a (sort-of) public appearance again to unveil what he had been working on all along: Apple’s impressive future super-campus. The video is quite interesting to watch, mostly to see Steve describe the project, and despite the embarrassingly stupid comments and lame jokes from the City Council members (Can we get free wi-fi? Will the employees exit the building safely in case of fire? Why don’t we have an Apple Store?… pleaaase). Here’s the spaceship in Steve’s own words (please note this one-building design has nothing to do with what Spanish magazine El Economista talked about in December of last year):

For an architecture aficionado like me, there is so much to talk about this design. But I’ll stick to Apple metaphors.

I believe the whole concept of a single, huge, perfectly round building, surrounded by a forest, is an excellent metaphor for Apple as a company and even as a culture. It is the opposite of Google’s more open, decentralized, more ‘democratic’ (dare I say disorganized?) campus: image of a company working on different projects, going into several directions, without an apparent guiding principle. No, the Apple campus is a perfect, almost utopian (dare I say authoritarian?) building. Like an Apple product, it’s simple and straightforward (a circle). Like Apple the company, it’s huge and impressive in its size and organization. But even more than that, it’s pretty much a fortress secluding Apple employees from the outside world by a heavy artificial forest, just like Apple’s cult of secrecy isolates them from the rest of the industry.

The more I looked at the sketches and plans of the Apple spaceship, the more I thought of this:

This is Apple’s org chart (org circle?) that appeared in Fortune’s excellent Inside Apple story two weeks ago. I think it is one of the most telling and accurate depictions of the Apple Way. Coming back to our spaceship campus, I think you see where I am going:

 

That’s right, to make the metaphor complete, Steve’s office should be right in the middle: the centerpiece of this high-tech fortress, the ultimate impulsion and decision point that pushes everything Apple does, before it goes out the fortress to the bewildered world.

It’s an understatement that I can’t wait to go back to the Bay Area in 2015 to take a tour of that building, should I have to enroll in architecture school to do so (see Steve’s speech at 14:40 if you don’t see what I’m referring to).

Was WWDC’11 the first “post-Steve keynote”?

He’s here, but this is the first post-Steve keynote.

This is what every Twitter follower of Mac uber-blogger John Gruber read during Monday’s WWDC keynote.

Quite a surprising statement — one could on the contrary argue that seing Steve back on stage, even though he is still officially on a medical leave of absence, is a supplemental affirmation of his enduring commitment to Apple.

But this is one more of several indications of his possible progressive departure:

  • in the Fortune piece Inside Apple, Adam Lashinsky wrote about the so-called Apple University, a program that Steve Jobs put Yale professor and management guru Joel Poldony in charge of. Its goal is to make business cases on Apple history for future Apple leaders — in short, to codify Steve’s management. In a way, it is reassuring that he thinks about the future of the company without him… but obviously it means he has his departure in mind already. For some time now, because the program was started in late 2008.
  • second of course is the upcoming authorized biography, iSteve: The Book of Jobs, available in March 2012. Steve has been super-secretive as Apple’s CEO, and one can wonder whether this sudden publicity is not a testament that he’s slowly accepting his (overwhelming) place in history, and stepping back as a day-to-day leader of Apple to become more of an old wise genius watching over his baby. Who knows?
  • the third is more anecdotal, but quite telling to me. If you watched carefully on Apple’s homepage, you noticed this change just as I did:
    I chose the October 2008 keynote because during that show, Steve also shared the stage, with Tim Cook and Jony Ive. But WWDC 2011 is the first time I see the other keynote participants (including recurrent ones such as Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller) being put front and center on apple.com like this. I am certain this is no coincidence — Steve Jobs really must be preparing the press/the community/the world for Apple’s future keynotes, without him as master showman.

Only time will tell, but perhaps 2012-2013 will see the departure of Steve Jobs as official Apple CEO.

 

While you wait for tomorrow’s keynote…

I am like all of you guys (I assume) eagerly awaiting for tomorrow’s WWDC keynote. The rumor mill is acting crazy and I am sure I will spend the night dreaming of iClouded skies. Until this week, Steve Jobs news have been kind of slow lately — here’s a roundup of the information I’ve collected in the past month, that some of you may have skipped:

 

  • The New Yorker did a story on the history of the computer mouse, back to Xerox PARC and the famous Steve Jobs visit that supposedly inspired Lisa then Macintosh. One of the mouse’s inventors, Malcom Galdwell, recalls what we already know, that Apple didn’t “steal” the mouse from Xerox. Unfortunately the story can only be accessed by subscribers — I didn’t subscribe just to read it. The abstract is here (not very well done). It contains interesting old sketches and pictures of prototypes, as well as quotations from the piece, such as this one:

    “I had a series of ideas that I wanted to bounce off [Jobs], and I barely got two words out of my mouth when he he said, ‘No, no, no, you’ve got to do a mouse.’ I was, like,‘What’s a mouse?’ I didn’t have a clue,” Hovey told Gladwell.

    (via Cult of Mac)

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  • We’ve talked about it earlier: the building of the extension of Pixar’s Emeryville campus, Pixar Phase II, is now over. Check it out on the excellent Pixar blog.
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  • A curious piece of trivia, some study was made to prove that Apple had actually the same effect on fanboys that a religion (or, more appropriately, a cult) on its followers:

    As discussed in the new BBC documentary “Secrets of the Superbrands”, when you put an Apple fanatic under an MRI and start mentioning iPhone 5s and iPad 3s, neuroscientists found that Apple tends to stimulate the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.

    No news to me.

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  • And I thought I would never be able to find new keynotes… but no, two oldies came up this past month to add up to my impressive collection. I hope you guys take time to check them out, because they’re both pretty interesting.
    First, an interesting one (and in high quality, too) from 1996, where Steve Jobs still spoke as CEO of NeXT Inc. — but already famed CEO of Pixar — at a Microsoft Developers Conference, about NeXT’s server technologies, WebObjects. In the video he is a late speaker, which is a testament to how unimportant he seemed to be. He is also very casual and humble, as depicted in a number of articles from that time (he was just coming out of his wilderness years). Watch the keynote here (via Daring Fireball).
  • The second one I just found, and on YouTube, too! it’s a casual chat Steve Jobs had with then-struggling Mac developers at the end of the 1997 WWDC! Definitely worth a look if you’re interested in Steve Jobs history. Again, it is a testament to Steve’s unchanging character and principles. He stands by the same rules now as he did then,  including the most important one: building great products. He also mentions something I knew from a 1999 interview, quoted below:

    About 10 years ago I put in a T1 to my house. I’m actually getting ready to put a 45 mg fiber to my house, because I want to find out what that will be like, because everybody’s going to have that someday. But I have a pretty sophisticated setup; whether I’m at Apple or at Pixar or at my home, I log in and my whole world shows up on any of those computers. It’s all kept on a server. So I carry none of it with me, but wherever I am, my complete world shows up, all my files. Everything. And I have high speed access to all of it. So my office is at home too. And when I’m not in meetings, my work is fundamentally on email.

    in the aforementioned video, we discover Steve’s been working in such an environment since 1990. This is thanks to NeXT’s very advanced ‘inter-personal computing’ (i.e. networking) technology. So basically Steve’s been living ‘in the cloud’ for over 20 years, while we mere mortals will probably find out  what it’s like thanks to a product that he will introduce (if rumors are to be verified) tomorrow. The advancement of NeXT’s technology still continues to amaze me.

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  • Business Insider has published a thorough interview of Apple’s first CEO, Mike Scott. Honestly I haven’t had time to read it yet, so I wo’nt comment on it, but you can be sure I will pretty soon. (via TUAW) Same goes for the Fortune article Inside Apple, which I finally got my hands on last week, but haven’t yet had time to write about.
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  • Conan O’Brien dressed as  the iLeader in a baroque fresco by Fast Company: Continue reading