Apple execs don't want you to believe Steve Jobs' own memories of himself

Steve JobsLegend ToysA plastic facsimile of the young Steve Jobs, created by a Japanese toy company.

Jony Ive’s opinion of the new Steve Jobs movie —  it’s “ridiculous” and “sad,” and has “hijacked” the legacy of his late friend and colleague, he told The Financial Times — is part of an interesting pattern.

For the past six months, senior Apple execs have repeatedly made public statements rubbishing new biographies of the Apple founder, while praising one specific biography that portrays a largely positive picture of him.

The weird part of this is that the bio they dislike so much, Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs,” is Jobs’ official biography. Jobs cooperated with Isaacson on the book. Jobs gave Isaacson 40 interviews over two years, and Isaacson interviewed hundreds of Jobs’ family and friends.

The book isn’t some cheapo hit-job. It’s basically the book Jobs wanted written, based on Jobs’ own memories of his own life, delivered to one of America’s most-respected journalists.

But Apple chief design officer Ive said, “I don’t recognise this person at all,” when asked yesterday about the new movie that is based on the Isaacson book. 

Ive rarely speaks publicly, and when he does it is done with a careful purpose. And he isn’t alone in his dislike for Jobs’ preferred bio:

  • CEO Tim Cook said, “I think that a lot of people [are] trying to be opportunistic, and I hate this. It’s not a great part of our world.”
  • Cook  — who cooperated with the non-Jobs authorised book “Becoming Steve Jobs” — also said Isaacson’s book did a “tremendous disservice” to Jobs. “It didn’t capture the person,” he said. “The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time.”
  • Ive also once told the New Yorker that “My regard couldn’t be any lower” for the Isaacson book.
  • On Twitter, SVP Eddy Cue described an earlier documentary about Jobs, “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine,” as “an inaccurate and mean-spirited view of my friend. It’s not a reflection of the Steve I knew.”
  • Cue also tweeted his support of “Becoming Steve Jobs”:

And, perhaps more understandably, Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell tried to have the movie killed.

It is understandable that Jobs’ closest colleagues feel protective of his memory. Jobs isn’t here to defend himself. There is something unfair about revealing negative information about someone after that person has died. And anytime the media writes about you or your friends, it always feels like the story is distorted.

But it’s worth noting that the book Apple’s management supports, “Becoming Steve Jobs,” was only begun after Jobs died. So the odd situation here is that Apple’s most senior people seem to disapprove of the book that contains Jobs’ actual first-hand memories of his life, in favour of a more positive story that doesn’t.

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