After Steve. Build.

Long time since I posted anything. Here’s a books/ reading update.

I listened + read Tripp Mickle’s After Steve over the last couple of weeks. Came across this via the Vergecast plus an interview with the author on Nilay Patel’s Decoder podcast. I wanted to like this book but it left me with a very “meh” feeling. I don’t know why, I can’t point to anything specific, but it’s just the writing style or how the story was told I suppose. There just wasn’t anything interesting. The book was sort of like reading about a bunch of events… and to riff on its title felt soul-less itself.

Steve Jobs passed away. Everyone was sad. Apple was under pressure for the next big product. Steve’s close friend Jony Ive was under pressure. He came up with the Apple Watch which wasn’t as much of a hit as expected. Steve’s successor Tim Cook wasn’t as involved in design decisions like Steve was. Over time Tim figured it was best to steer Apple in a way that worked better for him – operational efficiency, deals in China, focus on money than design, move into services by way of recurring revenues. Jony got burnt out fighting everything; he missed his friend Steve, and sort of checked out over time. Eventually he left Apple to start his own firm LoveFrom. Oh and he also created Apple Park along the way.

That’s basically it. I guess none of this was new coz I follow Apple anyways, though it was good to learn some details too. Suprisingly there’s no mention of the butterfly keyboard fiasco, the M1 chips, or even the new MacBooks and how their design has changed.

I guess since the book wasn’t created with the support of Apple there’s no new stories or info; it’s mainly based on public information and the author’s interviews with Apple employees, and there’s only so much he can throw light on. Which explains why it reads like a bunch of news reports put together. Plus it tries to alternate between Jony Iven and Tim Cook each chapter, which broke the flow for me and seemed pointless. I don’t want to diss on the book or Tripp’s effort, but like I said I found the book boring (for lack of a better word).

One side effect of the audiobook is that I started listening at a slightly increased speed and found that I don’t mind it (I use Overcast and it has a “Smart Speed” option that ever so slightly speeds things up dynamically). Saved me some time I suppose. I had bought the book at full price hardcover version (as those tend to have larger fonts, not coz I am a snob or anything) and for that it feels like a waste of money. Should have waited a while and picked up a used copy.

Moving on…

Today I started listening to Build by Tony Fadell. I had discovered this too via the Vergecast + Decoder and bought it at the same time. I’ve read about 1.5 chapters and so far I am loving it. I love his writing style, plus the narrator is great. The first chapter, especially, is great. Some real good advice. Hope the book stays the same way and doesn’t falter along the line.

Two quotes from the book:

  • Do. Fail. Learn.
  • The only failure in your twenties is inaction. The rest is trial and error.