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On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple Paperback – April 7, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (April 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887309194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887309199
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,344,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's hard to think of a company that has captured the public imagination as much as Apple Computer. The rise and fall of the business that single-handedly created the PC market and then let it slip away has been the fodder for several books, most notably Insanely Great by Steven Levy and more recently Jim Carlton's Apple: The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania, and Business Blunders. Now in On The Firing Line, former Apple CEO Gil Amelio tells his own story about his 500 days at Apple.

The book provides some insight into the significant events that occurred under Amelio's watch, such as Apple's failed in-house development of Copland, the search to license an operating system for the Macintosh, as well as details about those who would buy Apple including Sun Microsystems and Oracle. But the real focus of the book is Amelio's own frustrations in working with Apple's chaotic and undisciplined culture as well as Steve Jobs, the man who would eventually fire him. Although Amelio's account is at times overly self-serving, On the Firing Line is an interesting read that should interest most Macaholics. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A worthy addition to the growing body of history about the world'smost famous personal computing company." -- PC Week

"A fast-paced, heartfelt look at life as a Silicon Valley chieftain...Compelling." -- Peter Burrows, Business Week


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Customer Reviews

This is a must read for any Apple Watcher.
A. Chaney
Dr. Amelio recounts his tale as CEO for Apple with vivid detail, brutal honesty and charming wit.
Steven Smith
Unfortunately, Amelio and his co-author never delve into the details.
Peter Clark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Simmons on January 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
On the plus side, there is a lot of unintential comedy in this book. Gil is very impressed with himself, as this from page 1 will show:
"Apple seemed a natural, considering my background as a Ph.D. technologist with a number of patents and my reputation as a business leader who had established a notable record for transforming ailing companies."
Whether this confidence was justified can be discerned in many places in the book, but I will always treasure this one from page 187:
"Solaris, on the other hand, is based on a programming language called Unix..."
For those not technical enough to be in on the joke, Unix is an operating system, not a programming language. While your average man-on-the-street might make this mistake, for a computer company CEO to make it is pretty funny/pathetic.
For those more into human emotion than technical humor, here is a lot of spite in here, mostly directed at Steve Jobs, as shown by this from page 269:
"The success I was creating threatened to get in the way of his plans. Betrayal, assassination, trashing of reputations are all part of the everyday tool kit of a person obsessed with power, control, or revenge."
Even as I type this I confess that I cannot even begin to imagine what success Gil is referring to: the billion dollar losses? the massive layoffs? the plunging sales?
As a bonus, the book has some fascinating contradictions. Take this from page 273, regarding the deal with Microsoft:
"Eager for a dramatic move, he [Steve] called Bill Gates and gave him the deal I wouldn't, handing over everything...But he failed to get the one essential element...Instead he settled for cash, a sum Microsoft could write a check for without blinking.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Peter Clark on August 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
See Gil. See Gil run apple. See Gil get fired. Poor Gil.
This book has some interesting observations about apple culture, and a couple lessons for tech managers, but it's also full of self-congratulatory prose, with an occasional good dollop of self-pity. It's also written at around a 4th grade level - there were lots of opportunities for deeper analysis of what happened at apple, why Gil's strategies for turning the place around might have worked or might have failed, NeXT vs Be, and how apple changed as an organization. Unfortunately, Amelio and his co-author never delve into the details.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The most accurate description of Amelio's tenure at Apple was his own observation on page 213: "I often think how wasteful it is that those with real capabilities should doubt their abilities, while bunglers seem so damn sure of themselves." Since the entire saga lacks a sense of irony or any shred of introspection it will serve just fine as his epitaph. The book deserves a solid 10 as a reminder of why management gets a bad name.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
If what he says about Apple is true, and there are a number of people who say it's pure rubbish, I do feel sorry for Gil Amelio. He was terribly ill-suited for a top position at a "trendy" computer company because he's a older, geeky type of guy. Most of Gil's difficulty came from trying to adapt to the culture at Apple. Which was very different from National Semiconductor. While reading the opening chapters when Gil was being courted to take the CEO position I felt myself saying, "Don't do it Gil. You can't save Apple. You'll hate it there." The bottom line was the book was interesting and answered a lot of questions for me. I hope writing the book was cathartic for Gil because I really wonder if he can show his face in the valley again after all the blaming and bad mouthing that he did. One more thing, he must have kept a very serious journal of his tenure because the details of events and conversations that took place were amazing.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By WB1 on April 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
First I must admit that I wanted to read this book because I lived through three Apple CEO's, when I worked there. When I left Apple Gil was still CEO, but I didn't have much respect for him. One of major complaints was that I saw Gil saying how things were bad, needed to change, and he was making changes, but I saw little in the way of change. However, what I didn't know at the time was how he struggled to get head Apple managers to do what he felt needed to get done. This was a major source of his frustration.
This book was very well written and certainly a must read for anyone interested in corporate politics, Apple's corporate culture, and how twisted things can get in the newspaper. Obviously this book points to only one-side of the story, the newspapers have also only printed only one-side of the story. The truth of events that took place during Gil's time as CEO will probably only be known to a handful of people, but I suspect this book and this side of the story tells it much closer to the way it really happened.
This book I'm sure was painful for Gil to write, as it is any time things don't work out the way you want them to, however I'll wager that it was also a healing process for Gil. I know it was a healing process for me to read it as a former Apple employee.
A must read for any Apple employee.
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