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After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul

After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul PDF

Author: Tripp Mickle

Publisher: William Morrow


Publish Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN-10: 0063009811

Pages: 512

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

The artist loitered in the dimly lit corridor of a San Jose theater, waiting for his cue. He knew his lines, understood what was expected. Knowing that others were studying him, he wore a face that betrayed nothing.

It was early June 2019, and Jony Ive’s presence was required at a product demonstration event after one of Apple’s annual gatherings, the ritual performances where the secretive company unveiled its newest wonders, all of which Ive had been instrumental in designing. Dressed rich casual in loose-fitting linen pants, a T-shirt, and a woven cardigan, he was fifty-two years old now and had nothing left to prove. It was no exaggeration to say that his way of seeing, his love of pure, simple lines, had already redrawn the world. Yet he was never satisfied with his own creations, noticing imperfections invisible to others such as a watch he considered a millimeter too thick or the infinitesimal gap where iPhone parts intersected. He saw poetry inside the machine. He found inspiration in the curve of flowers and the color of tropical waters. He considered imitation to be lazy theft, not flattery. When he stood among the members of his team, they felt as though any problem were solvable, any breakthrough possible.

Yet here he was, waiting like a bit player for his moment under the lights, passing time before an oak table that held a newly made Mac Pro. He knew its every detail. He had been in the studio as his design team had discussed the holes of deep-sea coral that brought ocean reefs to life. He had watched as that conversation helped create an aluminum computer frame with a series of overlapping holes that could breathe air and heat into and out of the machine. The result was a computer that looked unlike any other in the world.

Standing before his latest marvel, Ive looked bored.

Then a buzz rippled from the theater’s entryway. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, strode into the room flanked by incoming CBS Evening News host Norah O’Donnell. Journalists and photographers backpedaled before him with boom microphones and cameras capturing his every move. The fifty-eight-year-old Cook was trim and muscular, the product of predawn workouts and a lifelong diet of grilled chicken and steamed vegetables. He had been at the helm of the world’s largest publicly traded company for nearly a decade, overseeing a period of tremendous revenue growth that had lifted its valuation to $1 trillion. His ascent to that corporate pinnacle was a remarkable journey for the product of a small Alabama town, where a future managing a Denny’s would have been more probable than a rise to become one of the world’s most admired CEOs.

In many ways, Cook was Ive’s opposite. 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 margins, squeezing some suppliers and 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. Though he had started as a wizard of spreadsheets, he was rapidly distinguishing himself as a master politician who had forged global alliances with the presidents of both the United States and the People’s Republic of China. A single sentence from his mouth could send the world’s stock markets into free fall.

The clicks of cameras that saluted him were deafening. Ive stepped into the commotion and greeted Cook. Then they both turned toward the computer to play their parts in a set piece of contrived spontaneity.

Ive acted as though he were showing his CEO something he had never seen before. Cook feigned earnest curiosity as though he were unaware that this was all a ritual of marketing. The staginess of it left some in the audience smirking.

The moment was so awkward that Ive could hardly stand it. He lingered under the lights for only a few minutes, until he’d finished his lines, and then stepped away as the cameras zoomed in on Cook. Almost no one noticed as Ive glided through the crowd and slipped out a side door, disappearing.

The truth was, Ive had been slipping out of focus for years. Apple was no longer his beautiful creation. He was no longer the star of the show. The cameras no longer clicked for him, and news anchors no longer invited him to wax poetically about design. The outside world wanted to know what the company was going to do about tariffs, immigration, and privacy. They wanted Cook. The creative soul of Apple had been eclipsed by the machine.



Title Page



Cast of Characters


Chapter 1:    One More Thing

Chapter 2:    The Artist

Chapter 3:    The Operator

Chapter 4:    Keep Him

Chapter 5:    Intense Determination

Chapter 6:    Fragile Ideas

Chapter 7:    Possibilities

Chapter 8:    Can’t Innovate

Chapter 9:    The Crown

Chapter 10:  Deals

Chapter 11:  Blowout

Chapter 12:  Pride

Chapter 13:  Out of Fashion

Chapter 14:  Fuse

Chapter 15:  Accountants

Chapter 16:  Security

Chapter 17:  Hawaii Days

Chapter 18:  Smoke

Chapter 19:  The Jony 50

Chapter 20:  Power Moves

Chapter 21:  Not Working

Chapter 22:  A Billion Pockets

Chapter 23:  Yesterday


Author’s Note


A Note on Sources




Photo Section

About the Author


About the Publisher

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