Steve Jobs Said He'd 'Go Thermonuclear War' On Google Over iPhone 'Theft'
Escalating lawsuits and barbed comments by executives have dramatized the all-out war between Apple and Google for dominance over mobile devices.
But Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs offers an unprecedented look at the Apple co-founder's battle-cry against Google, a company he thought was guilty of a "grand theft" when it launched its Android operating system, which competes directly with the iPhone and has surpassed it in popularity.
"I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this," he told Isaacson of the patent lawsuit Apple filed against cell phone manufacturer HTC.
In Isaacson's "Steve Jobs," a copy of which was obtained by The Huffington Post, the author recalls that Jobs, who was known for his fierce temper, "became angrier than I had ever seen him" during a conversation about Apple's patent lawsuit, which by extension also accused Android of patent infringement.
"Our lawsuit is saying, 'Google you f***ing ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off,'" Jobs said, according to Isaacson. "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product."
Jobs also slammed Google's work, telling Isaacson that "outside of Search, Google's products--Android, Google Docs--are shit." Though Jobs received criticism for his tight control over the iPhone ecosystem, which contrasts sharply with Android's "open" approach, he told Isaacson that Apple's approach stemmed from the company's desire to "make great products, not crap like Android."
Isaacson writes that Jobs had attempted to persuade Google not to develop a mobile operating system to rival Apple's own by promising the company it would have access to the iPhone and prime real estate on the device.
Google was not convinced.
The highly-anticipated biography of Jobs, which included more than 40 interviews with the Apple founder, offers an intimate portrait of Jobs' personal and professional life, including his childhood, his working style and his relationship with his family. It even details the songs on Jobs' iPod, which included more than 15 Bob Dylan albums, selections from onetime girlfriend Joan Baez, and three albums by Yo-Yo Ma, whom Jobs told, "You playing is the best argument I've ever heard for the existence of God because I don't really believe a human alone can do this."
Isaacson also recounts the birth of Apple's iconic products and Jobs' role as a visionary in crafting the devices. There was one feature that Jobs initially opposed, however, that has since become a cornerstone for the company: apps.
Apple board member Art Levinson told Isaacson that he phoned Jobs "half a dozen times to lobby for the potential of the apps," but, according to Isaacson, "Jobs at first quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have the bandwidth to figure out all the complexities that would be involved in policing third-party app developers."
The launch of the iPad proved to be its own challenge for Jobs. The lukewarm reception it received at its launch -- which included more than 800 emails from users to Jobs -- "annoyed and depressed" the then-CEO.
"I kind of got depressed today," Jobs told Isaacson the night after the iPad launched. "It knocks you back a bit."
Though the book focuses on Jobs, it also offers insight into the man to whom Jobs entrusted the future of Apple: Tim Cook, Apple's former chief operating officer who took over for Jobs as CEO following Jobs' resignation in August.
Jobs did not ask Cook if he would take on the role of COO. He informed him, telling Cook on a flight to Japan, "I've decided to make you COO."
"I'm a good negotiator," Jobs said of Cook. "But he's probably better than me because he's a cool customer."