Steve Jobs, in my experience, either doesn’t make many mistakes, or catches them before they get into public view.
But lately, I’ve found myself making a list of what look like public, avoidable mistakes. Here is the short form:
1. The iPhone name. This was an avoidable screwup that led to a lawsuit that Apple won’t win. Dumb move, and no need for it. At first, it just looked like arrogance, but now I wonder whether it was just one more unresolved thing going into MacWorld.
2. The company name change. At a time when Apple Corps has proved willing to sue over naming rights, and when British Courts, despite last year’s action, seem to be hovering over Apple’s side deal with the Beatles not to use the name in music fields, Steve pulls this one: move the company more into music fields, and rename it Apple.
I expect Apple Corps, despite their iTunes deal, will sue Apple again.
3. The $1.99 “The GAAP Devil made us do it” charge and defense for selling keys to disk drive upgrade software. An easily unmasked subterfuge re: charging for this stuff, and a bad idea no matter what the accountants say. This was the kind of dumb thing that Jobs would not normally do, not because he doesn’t like making money (he loves it), but because it lacks the right cultural elegance; it isn’t Apple.
4. Going back to the original post in this blog, it is now clear that Steve remains under investigation for options backdating (and related improper accounting). When I raised that issue, it appeared to have been kind of dead and forgotten, with Apple hoping its own investigation would put all other concerns to rest. Since writing about this, it has become an almost-daily news story.
I am including this here because it struck me that these stories may be related: I wonder whether Steve making mistakes is related to Steve under investigation. I became more convinced of the possibility of this when I read this week that Steve was actually interviewed by federal agents (SEC?), in a timeframe around two weeks ago. A few days ago, the first civil suit based on the backdating scandal was announced.
The real life of SteveJ right now appears to be dramatically different from what fans think they saw on the stage at MacWorld.