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25 March 2017 07:43 (South Africa)
Business

‘I also invented the friggin iPod. Have you heard of it?’ Fake Steve Jobs now tries TV

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

  • Business
fake steve jobs

The show is a modern-day Citizen Kane, according to its director Larry Charles. Yeah, maybe he’s biased, but when you’ve got the guy behind the Fake Steve Jobs franchise writing the pilot episode, it’s hard to be a doubter.

In 2007 Daniel Lyons wrote a book called Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs. It was written in the first person, as if Lyons really were Steve Jobs. The prologue begins with this so-called Steve Jobs explaining how famous (“like People magazine famous”) and good-looking (“I’m lean and handsome, with close-trimmed hair and a Sean Connery-esque salt and pepper beard”) he is. Then, in the second paragraph, Lyons/Jobs gets to the point.

“What’s even cooler is that I’m not famous for being some steroid-taking action movie star or illiterate dick-grabbing rapper or moronic freak-of-nature basketball player. I’m famous for being a genius, and for running the coolest consumer electronics company in the world, which I totally started in my garage, by myself, or actually with this other guy but he’s out of the picture now, so who cares. I’m famous because the devices I create are works of art, machines so elegantly crafted and industrially designed that they belong in a museum. My iMac computers and iLife software restore a sense of childlike wonder to people’s lives, and bestow upon their owners a sense that they are more intelligent and even, well, better than other people. I also invented the friggin iPod. Have you heard of it?”

Lyons’s name was nowhere on the cover of the book. Where there should have been the author credit in bold font, it said simply “a parody by the Fake Steve Jobs”.  Still, by then everybody – or at least everybody who cared, which is different – knew who the Fake Steve Jobs was, because he’d been outed in August 2007 by Brad Stone of the New York Times.

And why, you ask, was the New York Times amongst this group that cared? Well, because the blog of Fake Steve Jobs, known as The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, had been quoted in publications like BusinessWeek, Der Spiegel, Forbes and CNET. In 2006, Business 2.0 ranked Fake Steve Jobs number 37 in a piece entitled “50 Who Matter Now”. Writers from Wired magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times, amongst others, had been incorrectly guessing the identity of Fake Steve Jobs for years. Which means a better question might be: how could the Grey Lady, the last word in quality journalism, not accept the challenge?

So there it was, the great reveal: Daniel Lyons, born in Massachusetts in 1960, author of four books, previously senior editor at Forbes, and presently a writer at Newsweek. The Fake Steve Jobs was a journalist and technology analyst with a beef against Apple and, it turns out, what he called “the Linux-loving crunchies in the open source movement”. 

If there was anything to forgive, Lyons has since served his penance. Because he’s now writing a TV comedy pilot call iCON, which will be directed by Larry Charles of Seinfeld, Borat and Bruno fame. Remember the episode in Seinfeld season 4 where a college journalist mistakenly reports that Jerry and George are gay, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”? The writer was Charles, who also wrote these famous lines: “George (explaining how he and Jerry met): Actually it was in gym class. I was trying to climb the ropes and Jerry was spotting me. I kept slipping and burning my thighs and then finally I slipped and fell on Jerry's head. We've been close ever since.”

Of course Charles has also had his share of failures, and like the Sasha Baron-Cohen disaster that was Bruno, iCON might bomb – if the networks decide to buy it, that is. Still, given the concept, it’s hard not to be bullish. A lead character named Tom Rhodes who’s based on Jobs and other hot-shot tech luminaries? A show that Charles describes as “nothing less than a modern-day Citizen Kane”? HBO’s checkbook must be on the table already.

By staff writer*

Read more: Fast Company

* The last time this writer signed his name to a story that dissed Steve Jobs, his MacBook broke. He now has a new MacBook Pro, which he loves, so he’s remaining anonymous.

Photo: Marc Coggins

Watch: Fake Steve Jobs: Crunchies acceptance speech

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

  • Business

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