Newspaper article International New York Times

Defending a Legacy, Apple Executives Endorse Kinder Portrayal of Jobs

Newspaper article International New York Times

Defending a Legacy, Apple Executives Endorse Kinder Portrayal of Jobs

Article excerpt

Apple brass, including the chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, are throwing their weight behind a new unauthorized biography of the Apple co-founder.

Steve Jobs prized secrecy from his executives and employees during his tenure at Apple. Now his top lieutenants are speaking out -- to help shape the legacy of Steve Jobs.

Through interviews and posts on Twitter, Apple brass, including the chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, are throwing their weight behind a new unauthorized biography of the Apple co-founder, "Becoming Steve Jobs," which goes on sale on Tuesday. In the book, executives take aim at another title, "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, an authorized biography published shortly after Mr. Jobs's death in 2011.

Mr. Isaacson's best seller did a "tremendous disservice" to the Apple chief, Mr. Cook said in the new book, written by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, and excerpted in the April issue of Fast Company. "It didn't capture the person," Mr. Cook said. "The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time."

Jony Ive, Apple's longtime design chief, added his criticism of Mr. Isaacson's biography last month in a New Yorker profile. "My regard couldn't be any lower" for the book, he said, noting that he had read only parts of it.

Eddy Cue, Apple's chief of software and Internet services, endorsed the new book on Mr. Jobs on Twitter last week: "Best portrayal is about to be released -- Becoming Steve Jobs (book). Well done and first to get it right." Apple's iBooks account also tweeted last week that "'Becoming Steve Jobs' is the only book about Steve recommended by the people who knew him best."

The book-on-book criticism is a rare public cavalcade from Apple executives, who under Mr. Jobs kept quiet about the company's activities. It shows the lengths to which Apple is going to reshape the posthumous image of Mr. Jobs as a kinder spirit, rather than a one-dimensional mercurial and brash chief. To that end, Apple gave the authors of "Becoming Steve Jobs" interviews with four executives, including Mr. Cook. In another sign of the company's implicit approval of the biography, the writers will discuss the book and field questions about it on Thursday at an Apple store in Manhattan.

Apple's cooperation wasn't easily won, said Mr. Schlender and Mr. Tetzeli in an email interview. When the veteran tech journalists first approached the company about the book in 2012, both were told that executives would not give any interviews. Apple changed its mind 18 months later, they said.

"I think our patience and quiet perseverance was what eventually won them over," said Mr. Schlender, who covered Mr. Jobs for almost 25 years. He said he wanted to write the book because he felt there was a side of Mr. Jobs's personality that had never been captured by journalists. While the authors fact-checked portions of the book with Apple and other sources and showed the finished volume to the company, Apple wasn't allowed to have "any editorial input whatsoever," Mr. Tetzeli said.

"After a long period of reflection following Steve's death, we felt a sense of responsibility to say more about the Steve we knew," said Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman. "We decided to participate in Brent and Rick's book because of Brent's long relationship with Steve, which gave him a unique perspective on Steve's life. The book captures Steve better than anything else we've seen, and we are happy we decided to participate."

A handful of influential tech bloggers received early copies of the book, including John Gruber, who wrote on his website Daring Fireball that the book was "smart, accurate, informative, insightful and at times, utterly heartbreaking. …

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