The Big Bang Revisited
On the Firing Line,
my 500 days at Apple - by Gil Amelio.
The shallow review:
It's a brief, shrilley little read that espouses blame almost evenly - between Gil's situation and the road paved by Steve Jobs - while not quite distancing Gil from his trajic mistakes along the way - as you might think he would at least try to do. Instead we see an anemic, pompous out of control company that dances briefly with a person who was supposed to turn it around. While he goes on, and on about the management ignoring his directives, one can't help but wonder if he ever had the balls to actually step in and fire someone for gross neglegence? Although some of his revisions were eventually carried out, putting Steve in a position to upsurp him guarantees that he will never be accredited with them. So in the end-game all you have is a whiner left out in the cold to tell the tale of the house of horrors that Jobs and his subsiquent cronies built - Apple Computer.
The deeper waters:
The book owes most if not all of it's literary value to it's ghost writer who tries to take a desk calander and put some type of narrative into an endless length of tape never before seen since Nixon. Gil attempts to shoulder some of the blame for Apple's unwillingness to listen to what he had to say to help them turn the tide and become significant in the computer industry - or at least profitable. Instead, within his own confessions, you find at least as many crucial mistakes that even Steve Jobs would be loathe to make - including strategically weaving the pre-requisite rope needed to hang himself. Granted he did, admist a background of subterfuge and sabotage, manage to get some crucial programs rolling - including the G3 and the Microsoft deal - as well as pushing for a larger advertising campeign that was to be more hard-hitting that what BBDO offered. The irony is that anything Gil did that would reflect as a positive in the totals column for Apple's future has been overtaken by his departure, and the public's misplaced belief that Steve Jobs would pull all of these developments out of his ass in less than 60 days of being on the job in his stead. Most of Gil's mistakes are pretty much self-indicted, with his admonishment of being inable to exact change - or any responce for that matter - from mangement and his underlings. However, as easily as it is to accuse of no-one listensing, one also finds a person incapable of making himself heard. Coming from traditional Fortune 500 backdrops, he was loathe to expect that Apple could possibly be as fucked up as it turned out to painfully, obviously be. His non-admitted mistake was acutally putting his foot down to make sure that this wasn't another figurehead CEO role that he was hired to take. Rather than roll-over and play dead for the insubordinates and incompetence, he could have made a few heads roll and put out maifestos instead of "white papers" of what the hell needed doing - and what the hell would happen if nothing did. Once you get past the sophistry of the trajic background story, there is excellent meat to be had in the form of the sum total and parts of all that is the steaming pile of crap that is today's Apple Computer. The make-it-up-as-you-go-along management, which for some perverse reason, has become a hallmark of any silicon valley enterprise. The idea that event marketing is more important than getting something resembling quality out the door. The fact that Steve Jobs is still an asshole out to screw the Apple faithful in the same easy manner that he's done similar takes with co-workers and even CEO's. The fact that this particular asshole has no faith in the very products that he's selling, and even refuses to have anything with an Apple logo on his desk. And the glaring parade of quality control problems that racked up the largest percentage point decrease in end-user relations due to creating machines - pound for pound - worse than the average Wintel box. Make no mistake, the dirt present about what is wrong with Apple is all there to be sifted through. The only drawback is that you're going to be having alot of whine with your meal as you try to swallow it all down.
On a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 would be akin to anything to what Steven Levy or Robert Cringely could write about Apple or Silicon Valley, this one ranks somewhere around a 6.5. Good dirt - but not the most comprehensive inside look at what Steve Jobs or Apple computer today has going for/against it. That title belt would be worn by "Steve Jobs and the NeXT big thing". Tune in the next couple of weeks to find out what the hell I'm refering too.