Jobs, who with Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer and made the list of the Forbes 400 richest Americans, emerges as a mesmerizing, irrational, self-deluding and ultimately pathetic person in this portrait by the author of Bulls in the China Shop and Other Sino-American Business Encounters . Having been forced out of Apple in 1985, Jobs sought in vain to recover his ``boy wonder'' dominance in the ultra-competitive computer world through lavish spending on his new company, setting the tone early by paying a designer $100,000 to devise the name ``NeXT.'' With no market profiles clearly in mind, Jobs unilaterally chose a small, black, cube-shaped ``personal mainframe'' box, noncompatible and overpriced, to be the firm's sole hardware item with exclusive software applications--a ``retrograde'' posture, notes Stross. NeXT consistently fell far short of sales and production targets--while rivals Microsoft, Sun Systems and IBM forged ahead with innovations--to which Jobs responded with outrageously fanciful boasting at trade events and in the press. The book serves as an instructive case study of the power and peril of the computer industry. Photos not seen by PW . (Nov.)
$24. BUS Steve Jobs, the charismatic cofounder of Apple Computer, is widely viewed as a hero of the computer industry, one of its founding fathers. Stross ( Bulls in the China Shop and Other Sino-Japanese Encounters , LJ 7/91) describes Jobs's attempt to recreate his success at NeXT, the company he founded after being forced out of Apple in 1985. The resulting picture is one of a megalomaniac who has been unable to recreate his original magic. Indeed, Stross questions Jobs's ``magic,'' attributing much of Apple's success to its position in a nascent, booming industry and to the efforts and innovations of others. In his own atempt to produce ``the next big thing,'' Jobs has focused on the impractical and revealed a critical lack of business savvy. This is an engrossing and cautionary tale, with a supporting cast including Bill Gates, Ross Perot, and George Lucas. Recommended for public libraries.-- Robert Kruthoffer, Lane P.L., Hamilton, Ohio
Hollywood and the computer industry seem to have much in common. Aside from the fact both headquarter in California, each relies on razzle-dazzle and larger-than-life egos to grab headlines. This is why Stross' analysis of the shortcomings of Steve Jobs' NeXT is so striking: he delves beyond the newsprint and the speeches and the glamorous events to underscore reasons for the business' failure. This impartial account of hubris, however, leaves space for some balanced conclusions: the founder's insecurity, the company's inability to listen to customers, the glitz factor, and budgetary misdemeanors all contributed to the pending demise of NeXT. With accuracy (and without cooperation from the company), he unfolds historical details and personalities involved, in the end evoking some understanding of the guy who just couldn't shoot straight.
A revealing account of Jobs's exploits after leaving Apple Computer and founding NeXT. Filled with illuminating, if not gossipy, anecdotes depicting a man willing to believe his own myth--and the others just as gullible. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)