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Monday, October 18, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Silicon Valley view
By Mike Langberg
And it was the same old Jobs at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif., where he unveiled the first of a new line of mini-Apple stores intended for malls and other locations that won't accommodate their full-size cousins.
He was noticeably thinner. But he had the same unshakable even arrogant confidence in his ideas.
To Jobs, the new stores aren't merely a convenient place to pick up an iMac or an iPod.
"This is the best buying experience not just for a computer, but for any product at any store," Jobs insisted.
The walls of the 750-square-foot ministores are made from imported Japanese stainless steel. According to Jobs, there's no structural stainless steel made anywhere else that measures up.
Perforated with hundreds of small holes for ventilation and fire-prevention sprinklers, the walls look much like the front of Apple's stainless steel Power Mac G5 computers. Putting ventilation and sprinklers in the walls allows for a solid white ceiling, Jobs pointed out to reporters, which matches the solid white floor unmarred by joints.
If you want to see for yourself, six of the new mini-Apple stores opened Saturday around the country. One of the six new stores is at Westfield Shoppingtown Southcenter mall in Tukwila.
Jobs' personal fashion sense is also unchanged. He was wearing his trademark round glasses, black T-shirt and Levi's blue jeans, along with Keen Footwear sandals.
Back on July 31, Jobs stunned Silicon Valley with a short e-mail sent to Apple employees and then released to the public. Jobs said he had just gone through successful surgery to remove a cancerous pancreatic tumor. The type of cancer, he said, is a rare treatable form, unlike the more common form that is invariably fatal within a year of diagnosis.
Jobs, 49, returned part time to running Apple as well as his Pixar animation studio in Emeryville early last month. He moved up to a full-time schedule late last month.
I don't want to invade your privacy, I said to Jobs, but many people are no doubt wondering about your health in the weeks since the surgery.
"Don't invade my privacy. Thanks," Jobs said with a smile and a pat on the arm. In other words, end of discussion.
Meanwhile, Jobs has lots of reasons to feel better.
Apple is on a roll, reporting strong quarterly earnings last week. The good news sent Apple stock up $5.23 to $44.98 a share Thursday, a 13.5 percent gain that is the company's best single-day performance in four years. And its stock is up more than 110 percent this year.
"The Incredibles," the latest movie from Pixar, opens Nov. 5. The animated story of a retired superhero summoned back into action, the movie follows such previous Pixar hits as "Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo."
Even though I'm frequently frustrated by the many ways Jobs manipulates perceptions of Apple, and by the uncritical acceptance he gets from both customers and the media, I'm glad he has returned to Apple's helm.
Jobs continues to push forward innovative designs, and he's never boring. If only other business leaders in Silicon Valley were the same.
Mark Langberg is a columnist for the
San Jose Mercury News.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
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