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Apple Attempts to Suppress Steve Jobs Profile Article

Macworld UK points out a feature article from The Sunday Times profiling Apple CEO Steve Jobs, noting that Apple attempted several times to discourage or block publication of the piece.

Apple hates personality stuff and press intrusion. "We want to discourage profiles," an Apple PR tells me stiffly, apparently unaware she is waving a sackful of red rags at a herd of bulls. Another PR rings the editor of this magazine to try to halt publication of this piece.

The lengthy article provides a comprehensive look at Jobs' personal and professional life over the years, noting his failures and successes, from his recruitment of Pepsi CEO John Sculley that quickly resulted in Jobs being forced out of Apple to his reinvention of Apple upon his return with the iMac, the iPod, and the iPhone.

Focus is also placed on Jobs' "narcissistic" personality and his "control freak" tendencies that frustrate many of those who interact with him but also drive the product development that has won the company so many devoted fans.

Jobs is, in the words of the psychiatrist and scholar of leadership Michael Maccoby, "a productive narcissist". To Jobs, the world is an epiphenomenon, a side effect of the existence of Steve. Or rather, it is a pyramid with Jobs at the top, a few bright people just beneath him, and then the rest of us -- the "bozos". The customer bozo is not, to him, always right. In the early days it was said the Apple marketing department consisted of Jobs looking in his mirror and asking himself what he wanted. His customer-relations motto is from Henry Ford: "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse." In a world driven by technology, only the technocrats know what we want and need.

The piece also places emphasis on Jobs' health issues over the years, especially his recent medical leave of absence from Apple and liver transplant, and asks whether Apple will be able to continue its momentum once Jobs inevitably leaves the company at some point in the future. While Apple will almost certainly continue to pursue the same business plan and vision under new management, the question remains whether anyone other than Jobs can have the same presence and command the same level of respect that has defined Jobs and Apple over the years.