Steve Jobs wanted 'thermonuclear war' over Android

Steve Jobs' biography comes out next week. What took them so long? Seems he really didn't like like Google's smartphone venture...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 25 Jan 2012
Apple hasn’t wasted much time when it comes to releasing Steve Jobs’ autobiography. The Apple co-founder has barely made it to the Pearly Gates, and copies of his authorised biography are already winging their way to retailers, to be put on sale on October 24. What’s interesting about the book, by author Walter Isaacson, is that while Jobs was notoriously private, when it came to writing his biography, he was surprisingly candid…

One of the book’s most surprising revelations is quite how vehemently Jobs despised Google for Android, the mobile phone operating system he called a ‘stolen product’. ‘I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this,’ he apparently told Isaacson. ‘I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40bn in the bank, to right this wrong.’ That attitude is particularly potent, given the close relationship Jobs had previously enjoyed with then-Google CEO (now its chairman) Eric Schmidt, who had sat on the board of Apple. So you can imagine that Jobs saw it as disloyalty of the highest order.

Since then, Apple has waged a war which, if not thermonuclear, has nevertheless been bitter. Not only has Apple’s app store rejected several of Google’s programs, but the company has, to use the technical term, sued the pants off the manufacturers which use its software, accusing the likes of Motorola and Samsung, who both make smartphones using Android, of copyright infringement on everything from user interface to various hardware components.  

The might of Jobs’ wrath isn’t the only eyebrow-raising detail, though. In an interview with 60 Minutes on US TV channel CBS, Isaacson said one of Jobs’ deepest regrets was refusing surgery which could have saved his life and opting instead for alternative medicine. It all sounds a bit vague, but Isaacson pointed out that ‘he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don’t want something to exist, you can have magical thinking.’ Which is all well and good when it comes to designing shiny gadgets – less so when it comes to combating pancreatic cancer.

(Perhaps) most importantly, the book finally explains how Jobs came up with the name for Apple – which had, until now, remained a mystery. Apparently, he was on the way back from an apple farm he’d been spending time on during one of his stints on a ‘frutarian’ diet, and he decided that the name was ‘fun, spirited and not intimidating’. So there we go. Bit of a let-down, isn’t it?

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