There was inevitably some cultural friction when Apple's secretive CEO took his new iPad around to New York's professionally indiscreet media. Exhibit A is a single tweet from a Wall Street Journal editor, which purportedly made Steve Jobs go ballistic:
The Journal's online executive editor Alan Murray quickly deleted the Feb. 4 tweet, which, it is now obvious, was issued during Apple CEO Jobs' show-and-tell with select Journal staff. A tipster told us the deletion ultimately traces back to a furious Jobs. We asked Murray for comment, and he wrote back "I would love to talk about this, but can't." In a later email, he added:
I will say that Apple's general paranoia about news coverage is truly extraordinary— but that's not telling you anything you didn't already know.
Indeed, Apple is a notoriously tight-lipped company, particularly under Jobs, and is constantly trying to control the flow of news about its product. Apple sued a teenaged blogger who published scoops about unreleased products; it lied about Jobs' health problems; Jobs called a New York Times columnist a "slime bucket" for writing about said health problems; and an employee of key Apple contractor Foxconn had his apartment illegally searched after losing an iPhone prototype (he later committed suicide amid intense pressure from his employer).
If Jobs did give Murray a tongue lashing — his withering verbal abuse is infamous — the editor can console himself with the knowledge that this is is an especially touchy time of year for the paranoiac. And not just because of the pressures of shepherding and unveiling a new product.
At Jobs' meeting at the Times, the CEO was mostly on point, painting a utopian picture of happy future world awash in iPads. But at one juncture in the meeting, we hear, he took a detour, telling assembled newspaper staff that he gets tons of hate mail from people whenever he launches a new product — people who have never even used it, including angry Apple "fans." Jobs reportedly described the mail as "really nasty stuff... [things] like 'Fuck you and your family.'"
It sounds like Jobs has been fighting this sort of backlash his whole career, judging from this 1994 Rolling Stone interview:
"I've always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don't know why. Because they're harder. They're much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you've completely failed."
Of course, "fuck you and your family" sound less like fanboys than regretful stock speculators. That's the sort of e-note to go ballistic over.
(Updates: Added background on Apple secrecy, Rolling Stone quote.)