Jim Carlton's "Apple"

Sep 10, 2006

Just finished Jim Carlton's "Apple". Thanks to Priidu, one of the most dedicated Macheads (in a good way), for suggesting and lending it. A fascinating story written before the "Apple comeback" when the company was in serious trouble, the book was completed in mid-1998, before the iPod, iBook and most other Apple's great achievements of the past 10 years. Instead, it focuses on how the whole thing came about, how Steve Jobs founded it, was kicked out and found his way back and what happened meanwhile.

One thing that turned me off was that it was not the original but the Estonian translation, which was not really that well done and difficult to read at times. Especially in case of junior translators, and due to small market size, English sentences are often literally translated, even though I'd appreciate a proper rewrite that correctly conveys the message but applies the local grammar and sentence structure that can often be quite different from that of English. Oh well. Estonian translation will never be a top-notch job due to the small market. It was still readable.

The Internet provides some pretty cool references to this book, such as the response of Bill Gates to the author. Gates and the Microsoft relations, as well as many other relations, are covered in detail and over long periods of time.

The book also triggered me to look up a bunch of related articles and content on Wikipedia, I didn't really know about the 1984 ad for example. Amazing. Apple itself Jean-Louis Gassée, Think different campaign, Switch campaign and Ellen Feiss, Steve, 1984 campaign.

A few takeaways…

  • undirected R&D can eat up tons of cash and make people's time fun without ever really getting anywhere and bringing anything back
  • there are some people who still stick around, despite all the nonsense they get constantly from management
  • when you don't speak the constituent group's language, don't expect to be popular (managers who didn't get technology/engineering and the other way)
  • as Guy Kawasaki has said, the real unspoken heroes of Apple are the loyal line staff and regular customers

The translated book, funny raving review in Estonian