Jul 10, 2002

Phil Schiller: Under Review

This was it. The last straw. The boiling point. Critical mass. Terminal velocity. Heart palpitation city. For the last time, Phil Schiller had embarrassed Steve and his pantheon of ex-NeXT, Inc. executives at a board meeting in a series of "rotten Apple" (Steve's phrase for Apple's 1985-1996 era) antics that had caused stock to drop more than three dollars at the close of that day. Steve was doing Phil a favor by letting him stay on as president of worldwide marketing, as all other executive roles had been filled by Steve's NeXT cronies. But no more!

Steve buzzed his secretary, the fat blonde woman from Apple's current hip, trendy Switch campaign, and told her to show in Phil. Moments later, Phil entered Steve's office, wearing his typical Nike sneakers, blue jeans, and denim shirt. Steve was staring hard at his desk as he blindly motioned for Phil to take a seat. Grabbing his bottle of water laced with LSD, Steve took a sip, cleared his throat, and began one of his notorious scoldings.

Prancing across the room, Steve attached his clip-on mic and stood in the center of the huge office, looking directly at Phil. Phil was sweating, nervously, but also rolled his eyes and sighed. Were there any limits to Steve's megalomania?

"Folks, today, we have a bad situation. Phil Schiller, our president of worldwide marketing here at Apple, seems to want us to let him go. Fire him. And we– we at Apple don't like to do that. We think he have a pretty good thing going here at Apple and we don't want to-- don't want to dis-balance that. Our users wouldn't benefit. But Phil's actions have been pretty strong, pretty vivid as of late, so we're stuck between a rock and a hard place."

Phil clawed at his knees, unable to believe the mass of unchecked ego in front of him. He wished he was clawing his eyes out.

Steve continued on, occasionally taking sips from his water bottle and clearing his throat. He now had a small device in his hand, and he pressed the end of it with his thumb. The screen behind him was lit with a boring purple pattern, obviously out of PowerPoint, and he began parading numbers, charts, graphs, and third-party testimony across the screen, all regarding Phil Schiller, Apple's hardware, and the weight of scatological pranks at a public board meeting.

"It's clear that we have someone with the ability-- the talent-- to lead Apple's hardware on in successful directions. In the past we've even seen the huge transition from Motorola's 68k series to IBM's PowerPC, and that's something not many people could have pulled off, let alone without a hitch."

From somewhere unseen to both Phil and Steve, a far-off voice shouted "Yeah right, seven years of an emulated OS is not 'without a hitch!'"

Phil whipped his head around looking for the heckler, shouting back. "I'm the marketing guy, don't bitch to me about how long the software division took to get their collective ass in gear!"

Drinking the rest of his "magical" bottled water and tossing the empty container off to the side, Steve shut the PowerPoint presentation off and placed a podium in front of him. He rested his elbows on it and adjusted the mic.

"So, getting back to this conundrum, we have Phil, a talented guy-- great stuff with the direction we've taken in every one of our lines-- the Xserve is a success, the eMac is a success, as well as our older stuff-- the iBook, iMac, Power Mac, and PoweBook." Here Steve looked down again for a second, pushed his glasses closer to his face, and snapped his head back up again.

"But the catch– the catch with Phil is, he doesn't realize that turkey-mooning the board in a public conference regarding our quarterly earnings isn't the right thing to do."

Phil bit his upper lip with his lower teeth and looked at the ground, tapping his fingers on the arm of his chair. Steve was right, he had turkey-mooned the board, having jumped on the giant conference table and wheeling around 360 degrees to make sure everyone got a glimpse of his spread ass-cheeks, anus, and testicles, but it had been Steve himself who had goaded him into doing it, in the name of "the old spirit of Apple" or some such malarkey. And now Phil was sitting here at his own private Stevenote, taking the blame for the stock drop that happened a few short minutes later, Steve's scapegoat once again.

Steve slammed his hands down on the podium and looked Phil directly in the eye.

"So what are we gonna do with you, Phil? You tied my hands at that meeting, Phil. You signed your own death warrant. What do you have to say for yourself, Phil?"

Steve was asking him, subliminally giving him a chance to redeem himself. Phil was at once elated but newly nervous again. What he said in the next few seconds would either save or snuff his career at Apple. He looked worriedly around, reviewing his years at Apple, the hard work, extra hours, the keynotes, the success, the failures, the recoveries. There was more of his blood in the Macintosh than almost anyone else's at the company. And Apple, in turn, was in his blood. Like an addiction.

Wiping some sweat off of his upper lip, Phil met Steve's gaze and swallowed once.

"Would you like to smoke some marijauna?"

Moments later Steve's secretary could hear the uproarious laughter from inside Steve's office. With a secretive smile, she knew that she'd not seen the last of Phil Schiller after all. Peace once again reigned at Apple Computer, Inc.

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