• Is Amazon Now on Apple’s Hit List?

    April 30th, 2005

    I really pity the person or persons who posted news about updated Power Macs Tuesday at Amazon’s site. It’s bad enough, from Apple’s viewpoint, that the rumor sites sometimes get stories about new hardware right. But when a respected commerce site begins to take orders for that unannounced hardware a wee bit too early, heads are apt to roll.

    While the original listing got zapped real fast, it was there long enough for folks to get the basics about a minor Power Mac G5 speed bump. The newest models, which will have Tiger preloaded, top out with a dual processor 2.7GHz model. The listing, considering the source, was entirely accurate, and the official announcement was made Wednesday morning. You can check the specs yourself at Apple’s site. In short, all the dual processor variants have 16X dual layer SuperDrives and larger hard drives, which now have maximum capacities of 250GB.

    In the scheme of things, this is a very minor update, and I dare say very few, except those with stopwatches on hand, will ever notice the difference between the fastest previous model, with a pair of 2.5GHz processors, and a pair of 2.7GHz processors. I suppose folks with the original model, with 2GHz processors, might start feeling a little left behind. Or perhaps not.

    It does show that Apple’s G5 processor supplier, IBM, has really reached a brick wall in improving performance. Or maybe this is a stop-gap and we’ll be amazed with something a lot faster by fall. But that is left to the rumor mongerers to talk about. I also wonder how Steve Jobs feels to realize his prediction of an early jump to 3GHz has long since gone up in smoke.

    Then again, Steve’s apparently not having a very good week, and I’m not referring to the latest attempt by RealNetworks to gain a big presence in the music download market. That’s the topic of another day, but we’ll be talking about it on this week’s episode of The Tech Night Owl LIVE. There are now published reports that Apple has removed all books published by John Wiley & Sons from its retail stores. The apparent cause is the impending publication of an unauthorized biography, entitled iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business.

    The book, from authors Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon, is apparently an update of The Journey Is the Reward, a biography of Jobs that was published 1987. I never read the previous book, nor have I seen the sequel, but a brief quote from Amazon’s blurb about the forthcoming title speaks volumes: “In this encore to his classic 1987 unauthorized biography of Steve Jobs–a major bestseller–Jeffrey Young examines Jobs’ remarkable resurgence, one of the most amazing business comeback stories in recent years. Drawing on a wide range of sources in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, he details how Jobs put Apple back on track, first with the iMac and then with the iPod, and traces Jobs’ role in the remarkable rise of the Pixar animation studio, including his rancorous feud with Disney’s Michael Eisner.”

    The description goes on to say that the book was “Written with insider scoops and no-holds-barred style; Based on hundreds of highly unauthorized interviews with Jobs’ nearest and dearest; New information on the acrimonious parting between Eisner and Jobs, the personal vendetta behind the return to Apple, and the future of iPod and the music industry.”

    Clearly it doesn’t sit well with Jobs, but Apple isn’t the first company to retaliate over an apparently unfavorable book or article. Back in 1997, IBM began a six-year advertising boycott of Fortune magazine over an unflattering article about former Chief Executive Louis V. Gerstner. More recently, General Motors pulled its ads in the Los Angeles Times after a columnist delivered a highly unfavorable review of the Pontiac G6.

    However, Apple is in a far different position than IBM or GM. Louis V. Gerstner didn’t have near the public presence of Steve Jobs; in fact, most people have no clue who Gerstner is or was. And the Pontiac G6, to be perfectly honest, is just another in a long line of mediocre vehicles from GM that will do little or nothing to solve the company’s falling market share. But Jobs is another story. Apple’s charismatic and, frankly, temperamental boss is perhaps the most popular chief executive on the planet. The publicity over this episode will probably stimulate sales of the book big time.

    So what is it that Apple doesn’t want us to know about Steve Jobs? While there are not doubt lots of behind-the-scenes skirmishes that lovers of juicy gossip will appreciate, a lot of what he has done is public record. We knew it when he was ousted from Apple, founded NeXT, and returned from the ashes as Apple’s CEO years later. Does it matter that he is a mercurial, driven executive? Aren’t geniuses supposed to be crazy?

    Besides, if Apple didn’t have a Steve Jobs, where would the company be today? Whatever his personality quirks, and we all have quirks of one sort or another, would you have it otherwise?

    On the other hand, if Jobs ever decides to sit down and write a pull-no-punches autobiography, I’ll probably be among the first to buy a copy.

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