STEVE JOBS AND THE NEXT BIG THING by Randall E. Stross

STEVE JOBS AND THE NEXT BIG THING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A searing portrait of Steve Jobs, the California boy wonder who--having co-founded Apple Computer in his garage in 1979--went on to make a ``bid of entrepreneurial history'' with a $600-million disaster of a high-end, high-tech company called NeXT. Stross (Business/San Jose State; Bulls in the China Shop, 1991--not reviewed) seems to have a passionate dislike for Jobs, whose stake in Apple won him widespread notoriety--and a great fortune. According to the author, college-dropout Jobs's main talent was self-promotion; in business, he was technically unskilled and was ``considered an incompetent manager of at best'' by Apple, where, in 1985, he was stripped of his duties by a CEO he himself had hired. After that debacle, Jobs sold his Apple stock and, in 1985, announced the formation of NeXT--whose purpose was no less than to ``build computers to change the world.'' Such was Jobs's aura of genius and infallibility that--without design specifications, a market, or any software for his promised new computer--he garnered significant backing from Ross Perot, IBM, and Canon. Jobs proceeded to make every management mistake Apple had made, and without producing the fabulous machines that had compensated at Apple: Instead of building a computer, he built lush new private offices, staffed them with 400 technicians and salespeople, and adopted a secretive, nearly paranoid, stance toward competitors and the press. By the time the pokey, limited, expensive, and not entirely reliable NeXT Cube computer appeared, two years behind schedule, in late 1988, the high-stakes technological race had gone to the swifter Sun Microsystem and IBM; a second generation of new and improved NeXT boxes did nothing to change the situation in 1991, when the company abandoned manufacturing. Stross's treatment of Jobs as a born megalomaniac and thoroughgoing devil leaches his narrative of the tension of a rise- and-fall tale. Nevertheless: a fascinating, though overlong, glimpse of glittering Silicon Valley in the 1980's. (Eight-page photo insert--not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1993
ISBN: 0-689-12135-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993