How Apple Became A Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost It’s Soul
By Tripp Mickle
I have a review about a book that may well interest people who are into their Apple Products or interested in technology or growth of companies and how they change from humble beginnings as well as what happens… I also think it’ll interest UK readers, certainly, who watch series on tv like “How do they (company name) do that and Inside (company name).
Below I have the blurb and my review and a bit about the author. I also thank Harper Collins UK, Non-Fiction for allowing me to review.
From the Wall Street Journal’s Tripp Mickle, the dramatic, untold story inside Apple after the passing of Steve Jobs by following his top lieutenants—Jony Ive, the Chief Design Officer, and Tim Cook, the COO-turned-CEO—and how the fading of the former and the rise of the latter led to Apple losing its soul.
Steve Jobs called Jony Ive his “spiritual partner at Apple.” The London-born genius was the second-most powerful person at Apple and the creative force who most embodies Jobs’s spirit, the man who designed the products adopted by hundreds of millions the world over: the iPod, iPad, MacBook Air, the iMac G3, and the iPhone. In the wake of his close collaborator’s death, the chief designer wrestled with grief and initially threw himself into his work designing the new Apple headquarters and the Watch before losing his motivation in a company increasingly devoted more to margins than to inspiration.
In many ways, Cook was Ive’s opposite. The product of a small Alabama town, he had risen through the ranks from the supply side of the company. His gift was not the creation of new products. Instead, he had invented countless ways to maximize a margin, squeezing some suppliers, persuading others to build factories the size of cities to churn out more units. He considered inventory evil. He knew how to make subordinates sweat with withering questions.
Jobs selected Cook as his successor, and Cook oversaw a period of tremendous revenue growth that has lifted Apple’s valuation to $3 trillion. He built a commanding business in China and rapidly distinguished himself as a master politician who could forge global alliances and send the world’s stock market into freefall with a single sentence.
Author Tripp Mickle spoke with more than 200 current and former Apple executives, as well as figures key to this period of Apple’s history, including Trump administration officials and fashion luminaries such as Anna Wintour while writing After Steve. His research shows the company’s success came at a cost. Apple lost its innovative spirit and has not designed a new category of device in years. Ive’s departure in 2019 marked a culmination in Apple’s shift from a company of innovation to one of operational excellence, and the price is a company that has lost its soul.
Apple is a company that’s a huge deal in the tech world. Most people own or have owned an Apple product of some description or been an onlooker. It’s a hard company to ignore with its technological advancements and widespread advertising. Even today, with my laptop needing a bit of fixing, I’ve turned to an Apple I-pad, my only Apple product, but a significant one, to use to write this review. As we all know though, there are multiple generations of the Mac, I-phones, I-pads, with major stores in cities, plus online. It’s a global trillion dollar company, and here, the author lifts the lid on it with a number of revelations.
Steve Jobs seemed creative with a vast get up and go attitude and vision, coupled together with that important know how as well (inspiration and vision is after all only part of what you need for anything), that is also hard to ignore.
There are recollections of meetings with Steve Jobs, referred often to Jony in the book, by staff. Steve Jobs, it seems, was well aware of his own mortality and it’s interesting how he looks at other companies such as Disney and Sony and what initially happened to them after the death of their original creators, as well as attempts to solidify his team for its future CEO.
I remember when it was announced in the UK about Steve Job’s death and everyone was shocked, from the tech geeks to the dabblers. The book gives a momentary glimpse into just how big a figure he was.
It’s fascinating being able to read about the staff, not all of it is in a business sense and you get a bit of a feel for their personalities, as well as seeing the ups and downs, some of the conversations had. It shows passion and encouragement as well as tempers and attitudes come to the fore at times. The direction of Apple itself is also interesting, with all the huge personalities and ideas, before and after Steve Jobs died in 2011. It shows the difference between Jobs time and post Jobs and the controversies and politics that followed.
The book’s sub-title is “How Apple Became A Trillion Dollar Company and Lost it’s Soul”. Within the book, you can see how this happened and why that is so apt. It also quickly becomes clear, the amount of substantial research that was done.
Interestingly the book a little goes into 2016 when a shocking incident happened with a gun wielding person getting into a meeting room. It certainly captures attention again, or at least in a way when in a country where that is not any type of norm. It then takes the company to 2019 when business-wise it gets interesting.
The book shows how powerful Steve Jobs was and those who surrounded him became. It shows how technology moved on in droves and the cracks that appeared and a glimpse into how amongst all the glitz and glam of new product launches, it’s still a company that, whilst still powerful, is still having issues to present day, especially 2021. It’s fascinating to read the impact staff taking over in top jobs have after the original founder leaves or in this case dies. Sounds like Apple and probably many others are lucky to still be around, but have increased turbulent times to navigate. The insight the book gives can be profound at times, as well as generally interesting.
It is a book that was better than I thought and piqued my interest in a way I had not expected it to. I was glad to take a punt on this book, even though it’s far from what I’d normally read, but Steve Jobs and Apple and the subsequent CEOs are, as I eluded to, are all around us and hard to ignore, as they all seep even further into the public consciousness, many use their products everyday or most days in some form or another. It feels an honest account of where Apple is and where it’s been heading. It’s surprisingly not all business-like, sometimes it has a raw emotion and other times, reflective. This certainly adds to the readability and accessibility, even if it piques your interest just a little.
About the Author
Tripp Mickle is a technology reporter for The New York Times covering Apple. He previously covered the company for the Wall Street Journal, where he also wrote about Google and other Silicon Valley giants. He has appeared on CNBC and NPR, and previously worked as a sportswriter. He lives with his wife and German shorthaired pointer in San Francisco.