Excerpts from Steve Jobs’ biography have revealed a long-standing vendetta with internet giant Google. The conflict stemmed from the emergence of Google’s Android operating system, which Jobs claimed was blatant rip-off of Apple’s iOS.
“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product,” Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson quoted him as saying early last year.
“I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this,” he said. “I don’t want your money. If you offer me US$5-billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”
Jobs was also, reportedly, unflattering in his assessment of fellow personal computing pioneer and long-time rival Bill Gates.
Although Gates and Jobs collaborated on a number of products which were critical to Apple’s resurgence, the Apple co-founder called Gates “unimaginative”.
“He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger,” said Jobs, who went to India on a spiritual journey after dropping out of college in the 1970s.
“Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology,” he added. “He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”
Online reactions to these sentiments included comment that a number of the products Jobs is celebrated for bringing to the public were improvements on already existing MP3 players, smartphones and tablets.
Some have also chosen to highlight Gates’ philanthropy as an example of how unfair the comparisons between him and Jobs have been.
It seems that Gates did not take the criticism too personally. Near the end of Jobs’ life, Gates met with him one last time. Gates reportedly told Jobs that he proved that his model — of controlling computer products from end to end — works. Jobs reportedly responded that Microsoft’s licensing of its OS to other manufacturers worked too.
He later revealed to Isaacson that he had left something out of this compliment.
“What I didn’t tell Steve is that it only works when you have a Steve Jobs,” he said.
According to leading tech blog TechCrunch, when Isaacson asked if he really thought the Microsoft model works, Jobs replied: “Yeah, it works, but only if you don’t mind making crappy products.”
Jobs was also vitriolic in his criticism of Michael Dell, founder of the eponymous computer manufacturer.
According to the biography, Dell said in 1997 that if he were Jobs, he would shut down Apple and “give the money back to shareholders”.
At the time Apple was struggling and Jobs had just made his return after a decade-long absence.
Jobs reportedly responded to Dell with an email saying, “CEOs are supposed to have class… I can see that isn’t an opinion you hold.”
Jobs did, however, have praise for one tech CEO. According to TechCrunch, he expressed respect and admiration for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
“We talk about social networks in the plural,” Jobs told Isaacson, “but I don’t see anybody other than Facebook out there. Just Facebook, They are dominating this. I admire Mark Zuckerberg… for not selling out, for wanting to make a company. I admire that a lot.”
The biography also includes details of Jobs’ praise for his “spiritual partner” at Apple, senior vice president of industrial design, Jonthan “Jony” Ive.
“Jony and I think up most of the products together and then pull others in and say, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’”, the biography quotes him as saying.
The book additionally includes details about Jobs’ faith in current Apple CEO Tim Cook and his personal dealings with the likes of News Corp. mogul Rupert Murdoch and US President Barack Obama.