There isn’t much to like about a new book on post-Jobs Apple by the former Wall Street Journal writer Yukari Iwatani Kane.
Conveniently titled Haunted Empire ($14.99 in the iBooks Store), it could have as well been named ‘Apple Is Doomed’ due to her pre-conceived conclusion that Apple’s best days are behind.
The author claims to have based the material on about 200 interviews with current and former Apple executives, none of them named. This type of ill-conceived journalism is just sad: the hearsay is supposed to factualize that Apple’s is in a disarray, declining and amid the “perils and opportunities an iconic company faces when it loses its visionary leader”.
In one passage, the author describes Apple’s current boss as a “machine” and “riveting,” blasting him in another over a supposed “disastrous” AllThingsD appearance and questioning his leadership abilities because he’s seemingly too demanding while also being too lax.
The scathing portrayal of post-Jobs Apple wasn’t lost on the current CEO Tim Cook, who took to CNBC today to describe Haunted Empire as a nonsense attempt that “fails to capture” the essence of the company and its visionary founder Steve Jobs. Also, Kane responded back in an email statement to Re/code. Grab your popcorn…
Cook told CNBC:
This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company.
Apple has over 85,000 employees that come to work each day to do their best work, to create the world’s best products, to put their mark in the universe and leave it better than they found it.
This has been the heart of Apple from day one and will remain at the heart for decades to come. I am very confident about our future.
In her statement to Re/code, Kane predictably responds:
For Tim Cook to have such strong feelings about the book, it must have touched a nerve. Even I was surprised by my conclusions, so I understand the sentiment.
I’m happy to speak with him or anyone at Apple in public or private. My hope in writing this book was to be thought-provoking and to start a conversation which I’m glad it has.
Cook also issued an email statement to Re/code.
“We’ve always had many doubters in our history,” he said in the email. “They only make us stronger.”
To my knowledge, it’s first time an Apple CEO commented on a book, which speaks volume on how irritating the release of Haunted Empire must have been on Cook.
I guess this also means Yukani can kiss her access to Apple good-bye now. It’s interesting that despite all the negativity, Apple had no issues carrying her book on the iBooks Store.
Hanuted Empire book clip shot via Seth Weintraub.
If you believe Yukani’s pessimistic portrayal of Apple, Steve Jobs told his inner circle of the top hundred lieutenants that Apple would never release a standalone television set because “TV is a terrible business, they don’t turn over and the margins suck”.
The supposed quote contradicts the official Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson who said Jobs told him he had “finally cracked” the secret of TV.
And here’s Yukani discussing her book with CNBC.
People who have read the book seem to agree that Haunted Empire appears to criticize Apple for the sake of criticizing.
From Seth Weintraub’s review:
The book concludes exactly how it has been prepared to conclude (sorry, no surprise ending). Apple is in a free fall (increasing sales numbers notwithstanding). Employees are leaving for Google and other Valley startups as soon as their stocks vest, if they can wait that long.
Behind the scenes, morale is low and people are scrambling to find that lost sense of purpose. There is no room to believe that Apple could, in fact, have “its most innovative years in front of it”, to use Steve Jobs’s resignation words.
Just to give you a feel of Haunted Empire, the author in her analysis of Cook comes to the conclusion that Apple’s boss “could strike terror in the hearts of his subordinates, but he could also motivate them to toil from dawn to midnight just for a word of praise”.
Yoni Heisler did an great work challenging Kane’s journalistic pedigree:
The inherent challenge in writing any book about Apple is that the company is notoriously closed off. Even former employees are unusually loyal and tend to shy away from discussing their tenure at the company. Consequently, authors in Kane’s position are often forced to craft their own narrative and work backwards from there.
The end result, in this case, is a book that undermines its own premise. By blindly presenting opinions as facts and spending too much time rehashing issues of no consequence to Apple’s future innovative prospects, we’re ultimately left with a book that fails to present an intriguing and informative look at the Apple empire that Kane would desperately have us believe is “haunted” by Steve Jobs.
Haunted Empire is being published by HarperBusiness.
And here are Yukari Kane, Cult of Mac editor Leander Kahney and Wired’s Fred Vogelstein discussing Apple.
Do you think you’ll be giving Haunted Empire a read?
For what it’s worth, I’ve regretted purchasing it.
To me, this book just reeks of sensationalism. If I were you, I’d instead buy Walter Isaacson’s official biography, Steve Jobs, now only $6.99 on the iBooks Store.