Silicon Insider: Taking Jobs to Task

I guess I should have known better. Since his early 20s, Steve Jobs has always been allowed to commit monstrous acts without suffering any consequences. On the contrary, we usually reward him, showering him with riches and fame. Outside of being exiled from Apple for a few years, he has never been punished for his bad behavior -- and even after the exile, we cheered his return as if the lost years had been our mistake.

Will Jobs feel any consequences for this latest fit of petty vindictiveness? Probably not. Had Jack Welch or Sam Walton pulled something like this, there would have been congressional hearings. But for Jobs, it's just another example of "Steve being Steve," which we've all been trained to accept. Windows users will just shrug and say, "Well, what did you expect?" And the army of Macolytes will just duck their heads and change the subject to the cool new Mac operating system upgrade.

Still, if I was a member of Apple's board of directors (which you can be very sure I'll never be) I might be wondering why, during a week when Apple has brilliantly stolen the spotlight from Microsoft in the OS wars, my CEO chooses to undermine everything by looking like an even worse enemy of free enterprise than Bill Gates. And why, just as my hottest profit generator, the iPod, is about to be assaulted by a brilliant new MP3 downloading cell phone from Nokia, my CEO is busy intentionally cutting the revenues of my retail division.

Yeah, as an Apple director, I might be wondering about those things. But would I dare mention my concerns to Steve?

Are you kidding?

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michael S. Malone, once called “the Boswell of Silicon Valley,” most recently was editor at large of Forbes ASAP magazine. He has covered Silicon Valley and high-tech for more than 20 years, beginning with the San Jose Mercury-News as the nation's first daily high-tech reporter. His articles and editorials have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and Fortune, and for two years he was a columnist for The New York Times. He has hosted two national PBS shows: "Malone," a half-hour interview program that ran for nine years, and in 2001, a 16-part interview series called "Betting It All: The Entrepreneurs." Malone is best known as the author of a dozen books. His latest book, a collection of his best newspaper and magazine writings, is called "The Valley of Heart's Delight."

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