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  • After Steve

  • How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul
  • By: Tripp Mickle
  • Narrated by: Will Damron
  • Length: 14 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Business & Careers
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (90 ratings)

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Summary

From the Wall Street Journal’s Tripp Mickle, the dramatic, untold story inside Apple after the passing of Steve Jobs by following his top lieutenants—Jony Ive, the chief design officer, and Tim Cook, the COO turned CEO—and how the fading of the former and the rise of the latter led to Apple losing its soul. 

Steve Jobs called Jony Ive his 'spiritual partner at Apple'. The London-born genius was the second-most powerful person at Apple and the creative force who most embodies Jobs’s spirit, the man who designed the products adopted by hundreds of millions the world over: the iPod, iPad, MacBook Air, the iMac G3 and the iPhone. In the wake of his close collaborator’s death, the chief designer wrestled with grief and initially threw himself into his work designing the new Apple headquarters and the Watch before losing his motivation in a company increasingly devoted more to margins than to inspiration.

In many ways, Cook was Ive’s opposite. The product of a small Alabama town, 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 maximise a margin, squeezing some suppliers, 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.

Jobs selected Cook as his successor, and Cook oversaw a period of tremendous revenue growth that has lifted Apple’s valuation to $3 trillion. He built a commanding business in China and rapidly distinguished himself as a master politician who could forge global alliances and send the world’s stock market into freefall with a single sentence.

Author Tripp Mickle spoke with more than 200 current and former Apple executives, as well as figures key to this period of Apple’s history, including Trump administration officials and fashion luminaries such as Anna Wintour while writing After Steve. His research shows the company’s success came at a cost. Apple lost its innovative spirit and has not designed a new category of device in years. Ive’s departure in 2019 marked a culmination in Apple’s shift from a company of innovation to one of operational excellence, and the price is a company that has lost its soul.

©2022 Tripp Mickle (P)2022 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

What a boring book

I was disappointed by this book.2 hours in and it’s just a history of Apple which has been told many times before.

1 person found this helpful

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Very average

Unfortunately lacks accurate description of events and doesn’t cover many products (e.g. AirPods). Feels like writer only has superficial understanding of technology

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Repetitive, fiction

I found it entertaining, but it was repetitive, focused on Steve Jobs too much and ultimately is a work of fiction

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Great story but incorrect information

Steve Job’s, the son of an immigrant from Iran? Are you sure?! Makes you wonder how much truth or effort when into the research.

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Informative and engaging

I thought this book was an excellent telling of the life inside Apple and the struggles faced post-Jobs, and how the biggest companies like Apple need to adapt to a world where cash cows like iPhones are starting to peak.
This book actually made me consider how different things are on the inside, and the success that the company achieved was in large part due to huge internal changes and how the design team had to face new realities of living under a different CEO, who largely stays out of the day-to-day of managing product development. A great account of life behind the veil of secrecy.

I would argue though this book doesn't really answer the question of how Apple 'lost its soul' though. There was no post-story analysis of why the author is arguing their narrative, rather simply telling the story of a post- Jobs company, and leaving the reader with an interesting inside scoop, but not having been convinced the company has lost its soul in my opinion.
There was one small part which was recounted by Ive, where he believed Apple had turned from a company focused on design first, to becoming a machine. This was probably the only part of the story I could interpret as losing its soul, but not much else. The leaps in technology 10 years ago was just greater per cycle, and had much more sex appeal than it does today.
Mobile phone hardware was novel and innovative then, whereas now we all have these devices and its harder to reinvent them as we have everything we need. Maybe you could argue that the iPhone has had it's day, and to keep going, Apple must find a new way to dominate, but to say its lost its soul without Steve... well you can never say, as the technological world we live in today isn't what it was in 2011.

But I think over-all, it was very thought provoking and I'd recommend to anyone who is interested in the story of Apple.

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Well paced and informative

A great explanation of the recent history of Apple hinged around Tim Cook and Jony Ive. The audio presenter also delivers in a very easy to listen style. I am very happy to recommend this book to anyone who want to understand how Apple survived the loss of Steve Jobs

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Poorly edited and dull

This is a very poorly edited book. It is very repetitive. It contains numerous points and passages which are repeated, again and again. It’s almost mantra-like. It is, indeed, poorly edited. Repeating. But in a stylistic way. With repetition.

It is also dull and predictable.

However, there are some interesting insights. If it were a sixth of it’s length, it would be a great short book.

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While it contains some truth it’s very biased

The books is biased towards the writer POV he tries to paint a picture of cook is the worst thing that happened to apple and even interprets events and facts to fit his reality

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Informative and Entertaining

Walter Isaacson’s brilliant biography of Steve Jobs is one of the most compelling accounts of a driven man I’ve come across. At Apple, Jobs was totally focussed on producing innovative products of superb quality. He wasn’t too worried about how his abrasive nature impacted those he worked with, he just wanted everything to be done ‘right’ and had zero tolerance for anything less. So what would happen to Apple once its driving force had passed? Well, this book tells the story.

The book is really the tale of two men who were to lead the company going forward. Jony Ive had been the Chief Design Officer during the period Jobs introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad. He and Steve had formed a close partnership, with Jobs dropping in on Ive and his team just about every day. The second figure is, of course, Tim Cook who took over as CEO of the company following the death of Jobs. Cook had formerly been the company’s Chief Operating Officer. If Jobs was authoritarian and a galvanizing force for the company then Cook was democratic in his approach and more focussed on the numbers than the minute details of the products. They were, in fact, chalk and cheese.

This book walks us through Steve’s time at Apple (a scene setter) before focussing thereafter on Ive and Cook. We learn a good deal about what shaped these men and what drove them on, or made them tick. They were very different people: Ive the aesthete and Cook the operations man, forever with his eye on the financial spreadsheet. The chemistry between the two never came close to that established between Ive and Jobs. Eventually Jony became burnt out and, craving more autonomy, left to set up a business of his own. The book points out that despite Cook’s very different style and focus (he eventually turned more towards generating income from services more so than new products) the company's income continued to grow under his leadership.

It’s all told as a story, based on hundreds of interviews with an army of unnamed colleagues, friends and acquaintances of key players. In fact, this is just the way I like to imbibe this sort of information, I loved it and found the whole book to be hugely informative and yet still entertaining, in equal measure. Highly recommended.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Learn how Tim Cook made Apple what it is today

Having great product ideas and marketing people is one thing, but sustainable mega success requires method and process to operate and execute effectively.

The first half of this book provides the reader with plenty of context and backstory, especially where Cook is concerned.

As an IT industry analyst, I was aware of Cook’s background at IBM and Compaq, both Behemoths of the PC industry, but this book provides additional insight.

For those people interested in how Apple outperformed the competition, we get a glimpse of the tried and tested techniques employed by Cook: Lean/JIT, Six Sigma, and TOC (Theory of Constraints).

Plenty of lessons to learn from this book if you read in between the lines.