Jobs Threatened ‘Thermonuclear War’ on Google’s Android Software, AP Says

Apple Inc. (AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs said he was “willing to go thermonuclear war” on Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android software, saying that its features amounted to “grand theft,” the Associated Press reported.

Jobs, then Apple’s CEO, said he would “spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” according to the AP’s account of his biography, “Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson. Jobs died on Oct. 5.

Tension between the two companies escalated as Google used the Android operating system to follow Apple into the burgeoning market for smartphones. The rivalry forced Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, to resign from Apple’s board in 2009.

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product,” Jobs said in the book, according to the AP. “I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

The authorized biography, due to be released on Oct. 24, also sheds new light on Jobs’s combat against cancer. The executive had secret treatments for the disease even though he was telling people he was cured, Isaacson told CBS News.

Jobs regretted the decision to initially refuse surgery for pancreatic cancer, Isaacson told CBS News’s “60 Minutes,” according to interview excerpts released yesterday.

“He said, ‘I didn’t want my body to be opened ... I didn’t want to be violated in that way.’ He’s regretful about it,” Isaacson said. “I think that he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don’t want something to exist, you can have magical thinking ... We talked about this a lot.”

Putting Off Surgery

Jobs had a slow-growing form of pancreatic cancer and put off surgery for nine months while he sought out spiritual and dietary therapies against the advice of his wife, Isaacson said. Once he had the surgery he told his employees about it while playing down the seriousness of his condition, CBS said.

“I will not require any chemotherapy or radiation treatments,” Jobs wrote in an Aug. 1, 2004, e-mail from his hospital bed to employees of Cupertino, California-based Apple. He said then that he was cured after having successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pancreas.

In a commencement speech at Stanford University in June 2005, he said that he’d been diagnosed “about a year ago.” He didn’t mention the nine-month delay.

Doctors told Jobs that his illness was “curable” through an operation, Jobs said in that address.

“I had the surgery, and thankfully, I’m fine,” he said.

Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, declined to comment. The interview, conducted by correspondent Steve Kroft, will be broadcast on Oct. 23. The network posted a 1 minute, 25 second- long excerpt. “Steve Jobs” was published by Simon & Schuster, also owned by New York-based CBS.

Disclosure Timing

Jobs probably should have told shareholders that he had cancer when it was first diagnosed, said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. From a governance perspective, how he decided to treat the illness was up to him, Elson said.

“He probably should have disclosed it, and everyone would have assumed he would do everything he could to keep himself alive,” said Elson. “The question is whether he misled people because he himself was misled, or did he do it on purpose. I tend to give wide latitude on these things. No one wants to believe they’re dying.”

The biographer said that Jobs, who was adopted, met the man who turned out to be his biological father without knowing who he was.

Jobs’s Search

Jobs found his biological mother and sister, the novelist Mona Simpson, according to Isaacson. Simpson then identified their father, Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, who managed a coffee shop.

Jandali told Simpson he wished she had met him earlier, when he ran a bigger Mediterranean restaurant in Silicon Valley. She hadn’t told him Jobs was his son.

“Everyone used to come there,” Jandali told Simpson, according to Isaacson. “Even Steve Jobs used to eat here. Yeah, he was a great tipper.”

“60 Minutes” will broadcast a voice recording of Isaacson interviewing Jobs about his decision to ask Simpson to keep his identity private.

“When I was looking for my biological mother, obviously, you know, I was looking for my biological father at the same time, and I learned a little bit about him and I didn’t like what I learned,” Jobs said. “I asked her to not tell him that we ever met ... not tell him anything about me.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Burrows in San Francisco at pburrows@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net; Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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