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Jobs biography reveals a man always ready to pick a fight

Apple CEO Steve Jobs demonstrates the new iPhone 4 as he delivers the opening keynote address at the 2010 Apple World Wide Developers conference June 7, 2010 in San Francisco.

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On Google

Steve Jobs was hopping mad about Google's Android, accusing Google of "grand theft" when smartphone manufacturer HTC released its phone that borrowed or approximated many of the iPhone's popular features. Apple promptly sued Google, in one of the early shots of the ongoing mobile patent wars. "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40-billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Mr. Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, in an "expletive-laced rant." "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this." When Google chairman Eric Schmidt, who also served as an Apple board member from 2006 to 2009 before quitting due to conflict of interest, tried to settle the lawsuit, Mr. Jobs told him, "I don't want your money. If you offer me $5-billion, I won't want it. I've got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that's all I want." The meeting, Mr. Isaacson writes, resolved nothing.

On Barack Obama

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An indisputable guru of image-making, Mr. Jobs offered to design Barack Obama's 2012 political campaign – despite his criticisms of the U.S. President's administration.

Mr. Jobs was piqued, however, when his wife, Laurene Powell, helped arrange the meeting with Mr. Obama at a hotel at the San Francisco airport. The President, she said, was "really psyched to meet you." But slighted by the indirect invitation, he said that Mr. Obama should ask him personally. The standoff lasted five days before the meeting was set.

"He had made the same offer in 2008, but he'd become annoyed when Obama's strategist David Axelrod wasn't totally deferential," Mr. Isaacson writes.

When Mr. Jobs finally backed down, he did not hold back. He told Mr. Obama that the United States needed to become more business-friendly if it did not want to lose its edge. He talked about how much easier it was to build a factory in China than in the U.S., where there were too many regulations and needless costs. And he complained about the U.S. education system, saying unions protected bad teachers and kept principals from hiring good ones. "You're headed for a one-term presidency," he told Mr. Obama when he met him in 2010.

On Christianity

He rejected the religion at the age of 13, the book reveals, after seeing starving children on the cover of Life magazine. After asking his pastor if God knew about those children, he never went back to church. He studied Zen Buddhism later in life.

On his surgery

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Mr. Isaacson told 60 Minutes host Steve Kroft that he was shocked about Mr. Jobs's decision to initially skip surgery for his pancreatic cancer – that such a genius could make such a wrong decision about his own health.

"I've asked [Jobs why he didn't get an operation then]and he said, 'I didn't want my body to be opened … I didn't want to be violated in that way,' said Isaacson on the episode that will air Sunday. "I think that he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don't want something to exist, you can have magical thinking. ... We talked about this a lot," he told Mr. Kroft. "He wanted to talk about it, how he regretted it. … I think he felt he should have been operated on sooner."

On design inspiration

He told Mr. Isaacson he was struck by Cuisinart food processors while browsing at a department store and decided he wanted a case made of moulded plastic.

On what Bill Gates thinks of Steve Jobs

Bill Gates was fascinated by Mr. Jobs but found him "fundamentally odd" and "weirdly flawed as a human being." He believed he had a tendency to be "either in the mode of saying you were shit or trying to seduce you."

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Mr. Jobs once declared about Mr. Gates: "He'd be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger."

After 30 years, Mr. Gates would develop a grudging respect for Mr. Jobs. "He really never knew much about technology, but he had an amazing instinct for what works," he said. But Mr. Jobs never reciprocated by fully appreciating Mr. Gates's real strengths. "Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas."

Sources: AP,,

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