cover image After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul

After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul

Tripp Mickle. Morrow, $29.99 (512p) ISBN 978-0-06-300981-3

Wall Street Journal reporter Mickle draws from interviews with 200 current and former Apple employees, suppliers, and competitors for his insightful debut, an unsparing take on the company’s post–Steve Jobs era. From the jump, Mickle makes his perspective clear: by 2019, design innovation had taken the backseat, and “the creative soul of Apple had been eclipsed by the machine.” Privacy, “fend[ing] off the government’s” attacks, and fortunes to be made from “endless supply of cheap labor” became the priority. This shift, Mickle argues, is in large part the result of tension between the two men who led the company post-Jobs: chief design officer Jony Ive (“Apple’s high priest”) and COO-turned-CEO Tim Cook. Mickle covers both men’s early work and details their efforts to change the company after Jobs’s death in 2011. Those years included fiascoes—the initially faulty Apple Maps app, for example—and saw “tremendous revenue growth that had lifted [Apple’s] valuation to $1 trillion.” Most of all, Mickle writes, turning over the company to Cook, an operations man with mediocre showmanship skills—rather than a design guy—had the greatest impact in changing the company’s focus. There has been plenty written about Jobs and Apple; this sets itself apart with its shrewd look at how and why the company’s culture shifted. Apple devotees and skeptics alike will find much to consider. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (May)