Steve Jobs gave his recent Macworld Expo keynote iCEO speech exactly two years after his first in 1997, when he had just rejoined Apple as its newest leader. In those two years, he’s turned Apple, then a condemned property, into a hot, thriving, profitable company—a feat that all agreed was impossible. If you’ve ever read the classic poem “Casey at the Bat,” you can’t help but notice a few parallels…
The outlook wasn’t brilliant
For the Apple team that year;
Its market share was down to four;
The end, they thought, was near.
When revenues went up in smoke,
And laptops did the same,
The die-hard fans themselves
Began to look away in shame.
A straggling few abandoned ship
For Windows. But the rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal
In the human breast;
They fantasized that Steve Himself,
Evicted long ago,
Might somehow have a crack at being
But “Diesel” Spindler had the job,
And Gil came after him;
The former was a washout,
And the latter way too grim;
So on the stricken multitudes,
Dark melancholy sat,
For no one thought that Steven Jobs
Would get a chance at bat.
But Diesel blew it big time,
And was ousted by the board,
And Gil, with golden parachute,
Abruptly pulled the cord.
And when the dust had lifted,
And they saw what had occurred,
Now Steve was back at Apple’s helm:
The triumph of the nerd!
There was ease in Steven’s manner
As he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Steven’s bearing
And a smile on Steven’s face.
The kid who’d started Apple
With a vision in his teens
Was once again a superstar
In turtleneck and jeans.
The media was scornful
As he formed the board anew;
The faithful screamed in protest
As he axed the Newton, too.
And now he’s on the Expo stage,
And now the world awaits,
And now he tells the world he’s made
A deal with William Gates!
The crowd went wild with anger;
There went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves
On a stern and distant shore.
“Let’s kill him! Kill the traitor!”
Shouted someone, red with rage;
And it’s sure they would have killed him
Had he not been up onstage.
“My friends, you know not what you say,”
Began the fabled man,
“I still think Apple can be saved
I’ve got a secret plan!”
Reporters scoffed. They shouted back:
“No matter what you say,
You cannot run a company
Without an MBA!”
But then there came the iMac:
Steven’s baby, Bondi blue;
As sales and shipments rocketed
The stock quadrupled, too.
The profits Apple took in now
Were not to be believed
No wonder; frills like free support
And floppies had been “Steved.”
The ugly beige of yesteryear
Was next in line to go;
The Power Macs, in shades of blue,
Made Pentiums look slow.
And ads, and games, and USB …
He cleaned up Apple’s house.
Each choice he made was brilliant!
(Well, except the iMac mouse.)
Then one by one, the pundits
Started eating public crow;
The Apple-bashing know-it-alls,
It turns out, didn’t know.
Soon buying Macs was cool again,
And cutting-edge, and smart
As Microsoft got stuck in court
And Compaq fell apart.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land,
The market share is low,
The red ink’s flowing somewhere,
And somewhere sales are slow.
And somewhere critics slaver,
And somewhere moods are black;
But by God, there’s joy at Apple
Steven Jobs has saved the Mac!
[David Pogue (http://www.davidpogue.com) cowrote Macworld Mac Secrets, fifth edition, and authored The iMac for Dummies (both from IDG Books Worldwide, 1998). This poem originally appeared in the October 1999 issue of Macworld.]