Steve Jobs: Inside the Inbox of Apple's CEO

Categories: Tech
DearSteveCover10-25-11 Black Sized for Amazon.jpg
Steve Jobs also had a way with words
Mark Milian, a tech writer for CNN.com, released his e-book yesterday titled Letters to Steve: Inside the E-mail Inbox of Apple's Steve Jobs, which chronicles -- among many things -- the prickly side of Jobs that we all found so endearing.

In an interview with SF Weekly, Milian tells us how he reviewed more than 100 e-mail exchanges between Jobs and customers, some of whom were fans, and others who wrote to tell Jobs where he could shove his latest piece of technology. Regardless of the content, the fact that a CEO who was about as famous as Thomas Edison would take the time to respond to any kind of customer e-mails was fascinating in itself, Milian tells us.

"He was this high-powered rock star executive who would take the time to directly respond to e-mails from people he didn't know -- from fans, customers, and people who would write combative messages, and he took the time to sit down and write his own snarky comment back, " Milian says. "He would always end with a little jab -- and that's what made reading those so funny."

You will find a good example of Jobs' jabs in this e-mail exchange below dated Nov. 30, 2010 -- a year before Jobs died. 
To: Steve Jobs

Steve,
Why no airplay support for 1st gen. apple TV? I payed good money for this device.

To: Nate
From: Steve Jobs
Date: November 30, 2010 9:39:59 PM CST

It's different technology. It does everything it did when you bought it.
Sent from my iPhone
Here's another zinger:

From: Tristan
To: Steve Jobs

Subject: FWD: I inadvertently purchased this application, Follow up: 125884990
Date: November 12, 2010 9:49 AM
What a sham. I downloaded the wrong version (there are 3 different versions of this game in the app store) and don't want this one. Where in your terms does it say a customer must pay for an item they don't want, downloaded by mistake and was confused about which version it was?

Sigh.

Tristan

From: Steve Jobs
To: Tristan
Subject: Re: I inadvertently purchased this application, Follow up: 125884990
Date: November 12, 2010 9:51 AM

9 refunds already....  Who's the sham now?
Sent from my iPad

So the obvious question at this point is how did the average Apple user even have Jobs' personal e-mail? Even after months of research, Milian couldn't say for sure.

"I don't know how it started, maybe someone guessed it, but people have been messaging him at sjobs@apple.com since 1997," Milian explains. "Maybe someone found it out, or took a shot in the dark, but it got out there, and it became more available over the years."

He would also reply from other addresses, including sjobs@pixar.com, steve@mac.com, and theceo@apple.com.

While Apple insiders and tech geeks might have already known that Jobs was an interactive CEO, Milian says he is sure many people will be surprised to learn just how accessible Jobs really was. Apple officials wouldn't tell Milian how many e-mails Jobs received per day or how many he actually responded to, but the number of e-mails he received over the "antennaegate" iPhone 4 episode alone was telling; Milian guessed that Jobs' inbox must have been crammed with hundreds of e-mails daily.

"Over the years, people published [the e-mails they sent to Jobs] online -- and it was a race to see who could get an e-mail from Steve, who would he respond to first?" Milian says.

After writing a short article about this Apple subculture for the LA Times a few years ago, Milian became fascinated by Jobs' unusual availability and his pithy messages. So he began researching, poring though hundreds of the most interesting e-mails he could find. He also interviewed experts who talked about whether Jobs hurt or helped his cause by being so available to customers.

"[The book] is a mix of the history of Steve Jobs over the last 14 years --  it starts at his return to Apple because there was no e-mail before then," Milian says. "Then it chronicles how Steve responded directly to people and his thinking in the moment straight from his inbox."

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8 comments
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The Punisher
The Punisher

Steve Jobs was a dog in life as in death. Apparently he died a coward screaming like a banshee and apparently lost all control of his bladder...

LED
LED

When I purchased a Bondi Blue iMac from an online reseller which arrived DOA. I was dismayed to learn that the reseller wouldn't take it back but I would have to deal with Apple mail order repair. I shot off a short email to sjobs@apple.com pleading for help. The following day I received a phone call from Steve Jobs assistant. He arranged for a replacement to be sent to me immediately and I was up and running in a few days.

Artispoverty
Artispoverty

A horrible death by cancer could not have happened to a better person.

Watcher
Watcher

 I like how you phrased this so that the inherent negativity or optimism in people would guide their interpretation of your statement, revealing their bias either way. Interesting grammatical filter.

Henry
Henry

You should look into yourself - such an hateful statement means you are a very unhappy person, with a tinge of jealousy - I suspect you don't know this man you speak so hateful of

Jaden
Jaden

Wow... Really the guy was a dick but I would never wish that kind of death on anyone. Just saying what you have said makes you an even bigger dick.

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