Undisputedly, the most important event in the music industry within the last 15 years occurred on October 23, 2001. On that day Steve Jobs introduced to the world the iPod, and the music industry would never be the same. Imagine a device so small it can fit in your pocket and contain literally tens of thousands of songs you can just look up and press play in a few seconds? On that day, Steve Jobs would become more than just the innovative founder/CEO of Apple Computer. Steve Jobs would become among the most powerful men in the music industry. And with the introduction of the iPod, Apple Computer would shortly thereafter become Apple Inc., a move that shifted its focus a computer company to a consumer electronics company.
Steve Jobs is an extremely well researched, lively and entertaining biography of the Apple Inc. CEO who passed away on October 5, 2011, weeks before the release of the book. Walter Isaacson was given unprecedented access to the world’s most famous CEO, a man capable of showmanship but also a man given to strange eccentricities and often, a man who could be cruel and cold to his employees and to members of his own family. Isaacson documents Jobs estranged relationship with his daughter Lisa, his battles with the Apple board in the mid-eighties who relieved Jobs of his duties at Apple in which Jobs himself says was probably the best thing that ever happened to him. Years later, after having both successes and failures with two other startup companies—NeXT and Pixar Animation—Jobs would return, this time as CEO of Apple in 1997, and not only would it mark a rebirth for the then sagging Apple Computer company, but spark a new revolution in technology that combined creativity and art with science and engineering.
Like the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984, the iPod is what many people of this generation remember Jobs for. Isaacson relives, in Jobs own words, how he had to convince the heads of the major labels to make their music available on another revolutionary platform, iTunes, and convince them that the old way of delivering music to the masses was dead. Warning them that Napster and other music file sharing sites will simply destroy their business with people downloading their content for free, Jobs sold all the major labels—minus Sony Music, who were last to come onboard—on the idea that people will pay for their music if given a way to do it easily and affordable. Without the support of the major labels, the iPod could have gone the way of the Apple Newton, the Lisa, and other Apple products that failed to meet expectations. It’s possible that without the iPod, Apple could not have developed the iPhone or iPad (which was in the planning and design development stage long before the iPhone was ever conceived.)
Steve Jobs is an excellent book for all who share a passion for technology, and how if it weren’t for the visionary leadership of Steve Jobs the tech world would not only be scarily different but just not exciting. Jobs pushed his people hard, often cruelly, in order to bring out the very best in them. Whenever he was told something just couldn’t be done, Jobs would berate them until they figured out how to do it and pushed the scientific and engineering envelope. As a result we have many of the products we enjoy today—the iPhone, the Mac Book Pro, Apple TV, the iPad, and of course the small piece of hardware the width of a pack of playing cards that started the revolution, the iPod.