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Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success Hardcover – April 26, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (April 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591844835
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591844839
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Segall worked with Steve Jobs for 12 years, as creative director at Apple and NeXT Computer, and also spent time as agency global creative director at Dell, IBM, Intel, and BMW. As the man who came up with the iconic iMac name, which launched one of the most successful product lines in history, Segall played a pivotal role in reviving Apple from near death. His close working relationship with Jobs allows him to provide insight into how Jobs’ obsession with simplicity became the driving force that informs every decision the company makes to this day, from product design to advertising, even down to the packing boxes. Segall contrasts this Apple mind-set with those of companies like Dell, Intel, and Microsoft, where complexity and a dizzying array of product choices only serve to confuse and distract customers. His recounting of high-level meetings, ad campaigns, and product-naming sessions reveals much about how Jobs’ unyielding, brutally honest approach pushed aside rivals, teams of lawyers, and everyone else who said it couldn’t be done to remake Apple into one of the most admired and valuable companies in the world. --David Siegfried

Review

“A blueprint for running a company the Steve Jobs way . . . should be required reading for anyone interested in management and marketing.”
The Times (London)
 
“Gets inside Apple’s branding and marketing to explain its directness and power.”
Financial Times
 
“Required reading.”
The Observer
 
“Ken Segall has literally captured lightning in a bottle. Insanely Simple reveals the secret of Steve Jobs’s success with such clarity, even we non-geniuses can make use of it. Ken shows us how to cut through the cobwebs of fuzzy thinking, bureaucracy and mediocrity, and clearly see what’s most essential—and therefore most important.”
—Steve Hayden, legendary Apple creative director, author of the “1984” Super Bowl commercial

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I've read several Apple books and articles.
Steve F
I think anyone who works in marketing will find some great bits of wisdom in this fun book.
David Martinez
Great book with great examples of how complexity can ruin the day.
Jeff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 108 people found the following review helpful By John R Chang on April 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book needs a dose of its own medicine. The previously unpublished stories about Steve Jobs and Apple are real gems. But in much of the rest of the book, the author mostly invokes a silly narrative of battle between Simplicity and Complexity and falls back to insipid conclusions such as "Simplicity attracts" and "Simplicity has universal appeal". Well, of course. We don't need the author to persuade us of that.

The author compares Apple to companies like Dell and Intel, which have confusing product portfolios and marketing messages. But why do they? The author credits Steve's direct involvement in the creative process and lack of patience for big meetings and formal presentations. He explains that in a good working relationship, both sides are upfront and don't withhold problems from each other, and this creates the best results. Beyond that, there's not much more insight or deep ruminations about the nature of simplicity, which I would have appreciated. I know from experience [I worked at Apple during the second Steve era] that simplicity is rarely just a matter of wielding the Simple Stick, as the author seems to suggest. (Even when it is, it sure helps to be the CEO.)

I can imagine this book started out as a personal collection of Steve stories--for which I would have gladly given 5 stars. At some point, some publisher or marketing person probably decided that this book wouldn't appeal to the masses unless it were written as a management book, so as it stands, this book also tries to dispense business advice. A Steve quote (ironically, included in this book) comes to mind: "Get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff."
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Format: Hardcover
As Hannibal Lector explains to Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, the Roman emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, endorsed the idea of focusing on the essence of a subject. The French later formulated the concept of the précis. Still later, Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, "I would not give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity." All this serves to create a context, a frame of reference, for Ken Segall's brilliant analysis of what drove Steve Jobs to create an insanely great company that continues to produce insanely great products.

As Segall explains, "Simplicity doesn't spring to life with the right combination of molecules, water, and sunlight. It needs a champion - someone who's willing to stand up for its principles and strong enough to resist the overtures of Simplicity's evil twin, Complexity. It needs someone who's willing to guide a process with both head and heart." These are among the passages, themes, and concepts that caught my eye throughout Segall's lively and eloquent narrative:

o Standards Aren't for Bending (Pages 15-16)
o Small Groups = Better [Collaborative] Relationships (35- 38)
o The Perils of Proliferation (52-54)
o Thinking Different vs. Thinking Crazy (74-77)
o Simplicity's Unfair Advantage (93-95)
o Never Underestimate the Power of a Word (123-125)
o Death by Formality (132-135)
o Technology with Feeling (138-140)
o Ignoring the Naysayers: Inventing the Apple Store (180-184)

I have read all of the books written about Steve Jobs and Apple and reviewed most of them.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jay Trimble on July 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to love this book. At times I was riveted. But often I found myself thinking that the author used many words to say what could have been said in a few, and was overly explicit in making his points. Had he followed his own advice and applied "the simple stick" this book would have been more focused and to the point. I had hoped, upon finishing this book, to be newly empowered to achieve simplicity. Instead, I was inspired, but not necessarily empowered.

To say that Ken Segall is a fan of Apple in general and Steve Jobs in particular is a bit of an understatement. He worked closely with Steve Jobs developing Apple's ad campaigns. The perspectives on Apple and simplicity, and the comparisons to other companies are based on the development of advertising. Don't look for a design or engineering perspective.

The importance of simplicity is the essence, how to achieve it is what the book strives to communicate, with some success. The personal stories about Steve are great. If only Ken Segall had followed his own advice and said less this book would be a gem. All in all it is worth a read, though not as inspirational as I had hoped, given the subject matter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John P. Dodd on December 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was looking for some great principles on simplicity. What I got was a continual homage to Steve Jobs. Cut the book by two thirds and it might be helpful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Robideau TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found the stories to be the best part of this book. There were a few key quotes and principles sprinkled throughout that I ended up highlighting, but the stories are what will stick with me.

The stories were on topic for the most part, but I couldn't help thinking that the book should have concluded a bit sooner.

This book is highly recommended if you are looking for an entertaining book to shed more light on the subject of simplicity and how to achieve it in a business environment.
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