Wired Magazine's Leander Kahney has a cover story on Apple ("How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong" Issue 16.04 ) that's worth a read. Overall it's pretty well balanced and fair and has just enough edgy snarkiness to keep you reading.
Kahney takes Apple to task for being the antithesis of Google:
Everybody is familiar with Google's famous catchphrase, "Don't be evil." It has become a shorthand mission statement for Silicon Valley, encompassing a variety of ideals that — proponents say — are good for business and good for the world: Embrace open platforms. Trust decisions to the wisdom of crowds. Treat your employees like gods.
It's ironic, then, that one of the Valley's most successful companies ignored all of these tenets.
...by Google's definition, Apple is irredeemably evil, behaving more like an old-fashioned industrial titan than a different-thinking business of the future. Apple operates with a level of secrecy that makes Thomas Pynchon look like Paris Hilton. It locks consumers into a proprietary ecosystem. And as for treating employees like gods? Yeah, Apple doesn't do that either. (emphasis mine).
and Jobs for being a tyrant:
Jobs, by contrast, is a notorious micromanager. No product escapes Cupertino without meeting Jobs' exacting standards, which are said to cover such esoteric details as the number of screws on the bottom of a laptop and the curve of a monitor's corners. "He would scrutinize everything, down to the pixel level," says Cordell Ratzlaff, a former manager charged with creating the OS X interface.
The entire article is available free online at Wired.
To their credit, Wired critiques their June 1997 article on how they'd fix the then-fledgling computer maker in Our Bad. Wired Had Some Tips For Apple — We Were Wrong.
"Outsource your hardware production, or scrap it entirely." Hmm. Today, 83 percent of Apple's revenue comes from sales of hardware like iPods, iMacs, and iPhones.
We urged Apple to consider an assortment of ill-advised partnerships. "Sell yourself to IBM or Motorola," we said. We also suggested Apple team up with a bigger company like Sony, Sega, or Oracle. It's hard to imagine Apple thriving under Motorola — the outfit that couldn't milk a cash cow like the RAZR — or Sony, whose Walkman brand was rendered obsolete by the iPod.
And then there was the worst idea of all: Switch to Windows NT. Ugh.
Good thing Apple didn't take (all) of their advice :)