By Patrick May
San Jose Mercury News
Apple is not going to like this new book about Apple.
The title — Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs — pretty much says it all. While author Yukari Iwatani Kane does say on page 336 of her 338-page book that “it’s not too late for Apple to dazzle the world again,” by that point she’s made her conclusion clear — Apple Inc.’s long slide began the day Jobs died.
“Without him,” the former Wall Street Journal reporter wrote in her book, “everything changed. The dilemmas multiply and deepen. Solutions slip further out of reach.”
Kane is certainly not the first to predict the decline of the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant. And she fails to drop any bombshells, other than a quote from Jobs calling television “a terrible business,” suggesting an Apple TV may not be in the company’s future after all. Instead, Kane serves up anecdotes from other books and media accounts, along with some original reporting.
Yet the author makes a cogent case that with the loss of Jobs’ mercurial genius, the lingering legal battles and patent wars, and the thickening competition from tech companies on all sides, the innovative powerhouse that Jobs created may be slowly fading in his absence.
Neither Kane’s publisher, HarperCollins, nor Apple responded to interview requests, although CEO Tim Cook did release a statement saying “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,” adding that he feels “very confident about our future.”
The book, which Kane says was crafted from interviews “with nearly 200 sources,” including “past and present” Apple employees, lays much of the blame for Apple’s woes at Cook’s feet.
“Was Cook the best choice to chart Apple’s future?” Kane asks midway through her tale. She obviously believes he was not, although she doesn’t suggest a suitable alternative, implying that anyone running Apple in Jobs’ wake would have been doomed to fail.
The story starts with a brief history of Jobs at the helm.
Then Kane quickly moves on to the post-Jobs era. She focuses on the challenges Apple has faced since Jobs’ death and portrays Cook, despite his prowess at supply-side management, as stumbling from one pickle to the next.
Kane’s book was praised by Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson for her “great insight and unparalleled reporting.”