Apple Confidential 2.0: The definite history of the world’s most colorful company
This book is the second edition of the book described above. Unfortunately it is only available in
English at the moment.
While the 1st edition covered Apple's history through 1999, this one adds the more recent
"history" up to and including the year 2003. This is about the time when the Power Mac G5 was introduced, Panther (Mac OS 10.3) saw the light of the day and Windows 2003 Server hit the market.
This edition adds over 60 pages of new material, including several completely new or greatly revised chapters, and hundreds of new photos, illustrations, quotes, and timelines.
The author has just completed an update for the 2nd printing that brings all the timelines up to date as of late April, 2005, so you might want to drop by again occasionally to check for a new review.
Be warned! After reading the last page, you will immediately try to find out about other books that might have been
penned by this author. And you will find that there are quite some more (all of which, unfortunately, are out of print, but still available through the usual channels).
Not many books make it on the list of books I would like to have on me after stranding on a remote island, but this one
definitely did. Whithin the (unfortunately limited) confines of a single book Owen Linzmayer has managed to deliver pretty
much everything about the amazing Apple company that was ever intended to become known to the public, plus about
every juicy little tidbit that wasn't. Through 322 pages you'll follow Apple from starting (financially backed by the sales of
Steve Jobs' old Volkswagen bus and Steve Wozniak's beloved HP calculator) in the garage of Steve Jobs' parents to
becoming a leader of the industry with a net sales of more than 11 billions of dollars. A leader who, faltering under
increasing competition and a series of desastrous management decisions, almost went bancrupt before rebounding to
profitability through innovation, breathtaking design and a flair for the right product at the right time.
Although you're likely to do it anyway because you'll have a hard time putting this book down, there is no need to read it in
its entirety from front to back. This is because, quite unlike most company history books, this one does not follow a strict
chronological format. Instead, the main products, executives, triumphs and crises are examined in their own freestanding
chapters. Timelines provide overviews over key people and products at a glance. For example, the timeline dedicated to
John Sculley (Apple CEO between 1983 and 1993) spans four pages and covers all major (and quite some minor)
decisions, events and products that influenced Apple's rise and fall during the decade he was in charge.
The book is laid out in a rather unusual way. Pages are divided into two colums. The inner column, occupying about two
thirds of the available page width, is where the main narrative is located. The outer margin contains myriads of pictures,
cartoons, quotes and in-a-nutshell text blocks that are mostly, but not always, related to the information conveyed in the
main narrative next to them. In the chapter on the Apple III fiasco, for example, such a text block will teach you that although 14.000 of the approximately 120.000
Apple III computers sold had to be replaced, Apple received thank you letters from customers, telling them that General Motors would never have done the same.
I found the above-mentioned book layout mildly confusing at first, but it soon turned out that it can increase one's reading
pleasure significantly. Eventually, I found myself wondering which interesting little tidbits would await me on the next
page way before turning the current page over, eagerly devouring all of them before drawing my attention back to the main narrative as soon as a page was actually turned.
There is but one chapter in this book that, with all due respect, I think deserves some critical comment. Titled "The fallen
Apple", the chapter on the Apple Newton explains through 23 pages why this amazing machine was a failure. From the
standpoint of Apple's finances, the Newton might indeed be considered such. But from the standpoint of its continued and
even eight years after its demise still increasing viability among users, the Newton is clearly a success. I am writing this
very review on a Newton 2100 built in 1997. A computer that recognizes my handwriting flawlessly and way better than I
have ever been able to myself. A PDA whose backlight is so excellent that I once managed to keep my fingers clean while
changing my offspring's diapers during a power cut. A hand-held device capable of emitting sounds loud enough to have
woken even sleepy Frank this morning when the hotel's wake-up call did not come in time. I need to charge the batteries
but twice a month although I use my Newton daily. About 5 minutes from now, using a PCMCIA WLAN card that wasn't
even developed at the time the "failure" left Apple's assembly line, my trusty companion will e-mail this review wirelessly from my hotel room.
All in all, I see only one reason not to buy this book: If you have already done so. The good news is that if you haven't, ordering it directly from Owen Ink will get you an autographed copy that, on request, will even come with a custom inscription.