Dear Steve Jobs: Apple Founder’s Greatest Email Hits Collected in Ebook
Posted November 23, 2011on:
An ebook released Tuesday takes an inside look at the email correspondence of Apple founder Steve Jobs.
“Letters to Steve: Inside the Email Inbox of Apple’s Steve Jobs” ($2.99), by CNN technology writer Mark Milian, explores how the tech innovator fielded emails from fans — and how he handled the missing Apple iPhone 4 prototype dilemma with Gizmodo editors.
Jobs often responded to customer emails directly, which is highly unorthodox for someone in his position. Many ended up online.
Milian spent months scouring the Internet, looking at blog postings and message boards for email correspondences, and spoke to many of those who were lucky enough to get a response. The book, available for the Kindle, is a compilation of what he found.
Mashable spoke with Milian about what it was like to receive an email from the former Apple chief executive — and what kind of questions generally triggered him to respond.
Mashable: What trends did you notice about Jobs’ email responses while doing your research?
Milian: Steve Jobs is often described as a perfectionist, and he was known to be obsessive about typography. But he occasionally made typos. He was also inconsistent about whether he’d sign his name or include “Best” in his sign-off signature. Some of the sources I interviewed for the book believed he had assistants help him with his mail, but I didn’t find any evidence to support that.
Mashable: What type of emails grabbed his attention?
Milian: Flattery certainly helped people get a response. However, some would sent combative emails and still get replies, even if they were unpleasant. It’s obvious that Jobs cared very deeply about many of the topics he took the time to address. He cared about customers having exceptional experiences with their products and Apple’s repair system. But he also cared about things you’d never guess he had a passion for. For example, he’d write long missives about Flash or the H.264 video codec or the Objective-C programming language. If someone happened to touch on a topic he was engrossed in at a certain point, it got his attention.
Mashable: Is it unusual for someone with such executive power to field customer service inquiries?
Milian: There’s a chapter in the book about how Jobs directly handled customer-service inquiries by e-mail and occasionally by phone. Sure, you’ll find some CEOs on Twitter and Google+, but you won’t see them personally helping a customer get their laptop repaired. It fits with Apple’s mission statement to make sure customers have a great experience. If someone’s iPod is broken, that person is not having a good experience. Jobs at times felt like it was his duty to handle those types of emails.
Mashable: Which email exchange sticks out most in your mind?
Milian: Steve Jobs loved to end emails with a zing. An email I got exclusively for the ebook came from a man that runs a company. The man wrote to a bunch of people at Apple including Jobs about a flaw in the App Store’s ranking system. Jobs replied and explained some changes coming to the App Store, and then ended his email with a great jab: “I notice that your app has not received great reviews.”
He also played every angle in an attempt to get that [prototype iPhone 4] back, and it showed his brilliant negotiating tactics. However, Gizmodo was not about to give that phone up without a fight.
Mashable: What is it that most shocked you about the emails?
Milian: I was a bit surprised that so many people would so readily publish private correspondences without Jobs’ permission. I can see why, of course. He’s an icon, and people were excited when they received a message from him. But I found it unusual that many didn’t think twice about forwarding these e-mails to reporters or posting them to their own blogs.
Provided by Samantha Murphy