Jobs' iPhoneFolly

Now it places the lotion in the basket.

John Heilemann, who writes mostly about politics but likes to drop a turd into the tech punchbowl every now and again, wrote a fairly interesting profile of the man we call “Jobs.” We all know the story — nerd makes computer, nerd sells computer, jocks steal computer, nerd steals computer back. But Heilemann focuses on the reality distortion field and how Jobs is actually a dick and his company is facing the hardest period in its history.

The consistent thread running through all three acts is Jobs’s singular persona. His messianism has been present from the start: “He always believed,” says Wozniak, “he was going to be a leader of mankind.” Yet the most common descriptor applied to him, by friends and foes and even Jobs himself, is “asshole.” (Running neck-and-neck for second are “genius” and “sociopath.”) His abrasiveness is legendary and omnidirectional. Asked by a writer from Wired, “If you could go back and give advice to your 25-year-old self, what would you say?,” Jobs erupted, “Not to deal with stupid interviews—I have no time for this philosophical bullshit!” Given an early glimpse of the Segway high-tech people-mover, he bellowed, “I think it sucks,” then later called the company’s founder, trashed his CEO as a “butthead,” and said his marketing chief “should be selling Kleenex at a discount store in Idaho.”

Nice! He then goes on to talk about the iPhone and how it’s fighting in a tough market and blah blah blah. Heilemann says “Jobs has been wrong before. And if the iPhone proves a disappointment, his reputation will take a precipitous tumble: from unerring visionary to just another overreaching mogul.” That’s his conclusion, and I don’t agree at all. While most of us at on the fence about the value of the iPhone, I’m fairly sure it will be a great iPod. The only thing that can happen to Apple now is to hit a period of slow and steady decline, a la IBM. The iPhone is a catch-up device and this industry doesn’t like folks who are early or late to the table. If Apple keeps doing this sort of thing — launching half-baked devices quite a bit after the curve “just to be safe” — then Heilemann’s dire predictions will come true. Until then, you all better get down to the local AT&T store. I hear they’re lining up already.

Steve Jobs in a Box [NYMag]