In our first installment of the used book review (hey why should new books get all the buzz!?) we're taking a look at On The Firing Line, written by Gil Amelio, with Bill Simon.
Gil Amelio was Apple's CEO just before Steve Jobs returned to the company. Amelio talks a lot about the way, from his perspective, Jobs made it back to the CEO seat. Given the secret nature of Apple today, it''s strange to get such a candid look behind the day-to-day operations of Apple. If you've only known the company under Steve's second tour of duty, it'll be even stranger to see things like the actual advertising budgets, discussions on product quality (including Gil's formula for when an issue rises to the level of a recall) and boardroom inner workings.
Gil was with Apple for 500 days. That hardly seems like enough time to warrant a 289 page book, yet with the exception of belaboring the point that nearly every existing executive was dysfunctional in Amelio's eyes, the book reads as a swiftly told story of corporate drama. The first few pages hook you into what turns out to be an interesting look inside the company, and probably the last book we'll see from an Apple CEO anytime soon.
Probably the most untold story that's gained from the book is that it was Amelio who tried and tried again to get Microsoft to agree to commit to the Mac platform for five years, rather than the commonly told story of Jobs making this happen seemingly from scratch by the time MacWorld 1997 rolled around.
It's a rare glimpse into Apple's corporate culture through the eyes of the CEO. Was Ameilo given a fair chance to turn the company around? Does he see faults in all directions except from himself? Frankly, with time, it doesn't matter as much to today's reader, as much as learning about things like the AppleMasters program, Mission Impossible advertising plans, etc.
Overall "On The Firing Line" is a worth a read to learn more about a version of Apple that's completely foreign to us today.