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Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products Hardcover – November 14, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 232 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An adulating biography of Apple’s left-brained wunderkind, whose work continues to revolutionize modern technology.”

—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Leander Kahney has covered Apple for more than a dozen years and has written three popular books about Apple, including Inside Steve’s Brain and Cult of Mac. The former news editor for Wired.com, he is currently the editor and publisher of CultofMac.com. He lives in San Francisco.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (November 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159184617X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591846178
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I consider myself a casual Apple historian, in that I am a big fan of Apple’s work and through that interest I have learned a fair amount about their past. It is with much interest that I purchased Leander Khaney’s Jony Ive, a biography of Apple’s famed lead designer. A month ago, I linked to an excerpt about the beginnings of the first iPhone. It is quite good and had me excited to read the rest of the book. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) this was the best portion of the book by far.

I was not turned off by the entire book[1]. The beginning, which talks about Ive’s education and work before Apple is informative, telling a story I doubt many are familiar with. Khaney’s descriptions of Ive’s early work at Apple were also enjoyable, covering the development of the Newton, the Twentieth Anniversay Mac, and the iMac. Part of me wonders, however, if these sections were more enjoyable only because I am less familiar with those product’s stories already. If I knew more about them, would I have found as many faults with Khaney’s writing as I did with the newer products that I am familiar with?

The book is entirely effusive about Jony Ive, to the point of being annoying. The hockey puck mouse that shipped with the original iMac is only gently derided, and Ive’s tendency to supplant form over function is likewise given a pass. This gushing attitude hits its high in the final chapter, where credit for the success of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad is seemingly given entirely to Ive:

> The iPod was a product of Jony’s simplification philosophy. It could have been just another complex MP3 player, but instead he turned it into the iconic gadget that set the design cues for later mobile devices.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was excited to see a book on Jonathan Ive, the head of Industrial Design at Apple. He is a living legend – with the Queen’s knighthood no less - with the string of runaway hits Apple has had. Stories abound of how the finer things in life from forging of samurai swords to examples from marine biology influence his design thinking. Author Leander Kahney summarizes his enduring legacy with this comment “(Ive) introduced the concept of fashion to an industry previously preoccupied with speeds and feeds”

I was also a bit concerned Kahney would fall into traps authors often fall into when they profile tech executives as I wrote recently – speculation without direct access to the subject, and a chronological version of the subject’s life. Kahney does but it does not affect this book as much. He focuses more on the huge product hits – the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and iPad and uses his long term watching of Apple (he publishes the Cult of Mac) to use alumni and other contacts to weave enough of Ive into the descriptions. And unlike Walter Isaacson with Steve Jobs, he does not focus much on Ive’s youth other than to show the influence his dad and his consulting days in the UK had on his aesthetic sense.

There is plenty of detail to savor – like the Daler Rowney sketchbooks preferred by the ID team, Bondi Blue translucence of the first iMac and Ive's minimalist stamp on the new iOS7. Apple fans will particularly relish these details of two decades of products they have enjoyed. Personally, I liked the design culture Kahney describes that Robert Brunner, IDEO, frog and others brought to the Valley in the 90s that have reshaped so many of our devices since. I also liked the fact he invokes anecdotes from auto, furniture and other product design from Italy, Japan and elsewhere.
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By M.C.C. on February 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Listen, if you want to know about Apple and Jony Ive read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Kahney offers limited to no new insight in this book but manages to stretch out his non-point of view and lack of new information into a full length book. Looking through his copious citations in the back of the book, it is clear that Kahney saw an opportunity to make money and basically compiled a book report of everyone else's work into something resembling a biography.

Furthermore, the presumable purpose of the book is to document Ive's life and rise to fame. Unfortunately, the second half of this literary waste of time is almost exclusively devoted to a play by play of Apple's corporate history with a heavy emphasis on Steve Jobs and internal Apple politics.

Finally, Kahney is just a bad writer. On top of basically copying everyone else's existing work, he does so poorly. His prose is legitimately composed at a high school level with no consideration for style or grammatical structure. At numerous points throughout the book, I found myself rereading whole sentences because they just did not make sense or were written in the most awkward way imaginable.

Avoid this. I forced myself to read the whole thing because I was hopeful that it would get better. It did not.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read a lot about Jonathan Ive in the last 5-10 years, and while this book didn't add a lot to what I knew about him, it adds a few more nuggets. The most interesting part of the book for me is the concept of a "design story". It's mentioned several times in the book, and it's stated that Mr. Ive begins each project by thinking or saying, "What is the design story?" But sadly it's only glossed over, never discussed in detail. At about $15, I give this book four stars. If it was $25, I'd give it 2-3 stars.
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