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Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success [Paperback]

Ken Segall
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Jun 2012

'Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains'

Steve Jobs, BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998

To Steve Jobs, Simplicity wasn't just a design principle. It was a religion and a weapon. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other technology companies. It's what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011, and guides the way Apple is organized, how it designs products, and how it connects with customers. It's by crushing the forces of Complexity that the company remains on its stellar trajectory.

As creative director, Ken Segall played a key role in Apple's resurrection, helping to create such critical campaigns as 'Think Different' and naming the iMac. Insanely Simple is his insider's view of Jobs' world. It reveals the ten elements of Simplicity that have driven Apple's success - which you can use to propel your own organisation. Reading Insanely Simple, you'll be a fly on the wall inside a conference room with Steve Jobs, and on the receiving end of his midnight phone calls. You'll understand how his obsession with Simplicity helped Apple perform better and faster.

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Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success + Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products + The Apple Revolution: Steve Jobs, the counterculture and how the crazy ones took over the world
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Penguin (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670921181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670921188
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


A blueprint for running a company the Steve Jobs way ... should be required reading for anyone interested in management and marketing (The Times)

Punchy ... Segall gets inside Apple's branding and marketing to explain its directness and power (Financial Times)

Required reading (Observer)

About the Author

Ken Segall worked closely with Steve Jobs as ad agency creative director for NeXT and Apple. He was a member of the team that created Apple's legendary 'Think Different' campaign, and he's responsible for that little "i" that's a part of Apple's most popular products. Segall has also served as creative director for IBM, Intel, Dell, and BMW. He blogs about technology and marketing at, and has fun with it all at Follow Segall on Twitter: @ksegall

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So simple most companies don't get it 9 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is perhaps the one management book which has really resonated with me since Don Peppers and Martha Rogers' The One-To-One Future. Let's face it, that's not great: that was published in 1996.

I'm old enough to have worked for organisations both large and small - as an employee and as an outside supplier. It can be frustrating to be working for an organisation that has a core of brilliance but somehow can't get things done - this book explains the one simple reason why this is often the case: they can't do things in a simple way.

The book's author, Ken Segall, worked as a marketing provider to Apple - and, at the same time, Intel, Dell and other large IT companies. It's essentially the story of what makes Apple such a force to be reckoned with - but isn't merely a sanctification of Steve Jobs.

Yes, Steve is mentioned aplenty and is usually the centre of the many examples given. But while it touches on many of the facets of Steve's character which made him so successful, it focuses on one thing which almost anyone can do to improve their business - yet, will find an incredibly difficult and elusive concept to implement: simplicity.

Steve was often regarded as ruthless. Although there's some truth in that, it's probably better to say that he was single-minded. He wanted to get things done - and he often wanted to get them done fast. He didn't like to hear the word `no'.

Well, we've all worked with managers who think that's the right way to move a company forward, that without their aggression, people simply wouldn't do their best. Steve's single-mindedness wasn't like that. He often knew that there was a better way and he provided a means to get there. He demanded simplicity.

Steve himself said that simplicity is hard to achieve.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will get you thinking about Simplicity 5 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For me the test of a good business book is whether it gives me some inspiration and ideas for applying in my own work / business. By this measure "Insanely Simple" is a great business book. Although the examples are, well, simple, it had my synapses firing over and over again with ways to apply the messages in the book. Simply the best business book I have read for a long time.

Ken Segall makes a strong argument that one of the keys to Apple's success is a fierce adherence to the custom and practice of Simplicity. To back this up he takes 10 facets of simplicity and uses a story from his history with Steve Jobs and Apple to illustrate each point. He uses stories from his experience with Dell, IBM and others to show what happens when you embrace complexity instead. The book is simple, the stories fascinating but it's enough to provoke a lot of serious thought about how you run your business and whether making it simpler would make it more effective.

For students of Jobs it's also a useful book, one of the first written by a close insider who can explain a little of HOW Jobs was able to both inspire fierce loyalty and demand freakishly high standards. Segall also makes good case for much of Jobs behaviour being reasonable when viewed in context of what he wanted to achieve. In this respect it's a much better book than the relentlessly tabloid approach taken by Walter Issacson in Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an insight into the company this book is great, especially after reading Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson recently. There are many anecdotes from Segall throughout focusing mainly on advertising, but some insights into design are given too. These fill in some of the gaps around the story told in Isaacson's book which is nice.

After reading this book it has resonated with me, and I do think about what I have read in this book in my day job. It's quite inspiring, and if the company I worked for took on a little more of Job's attitude we would all work a lot faster.

However this book is frustrating at times. With almost every point made, the author feels he needs to explain how this point links perfectly back to simplicity which quickly becomes tedious. These 5-10 lines read like an essay a 16 year old might write. The points made are mostly sound but I can see the simplicity in the points for myself; it doesn't need explaining every single time especially as each section is so short and the point is made essentially twice. It's like someone explaining a joke when the punch line is obvious; it just isn't required. I think the author needed to have a little more faith is the intelligence of the reading audience. In addition, the capitalisation of the 'S' in simplicity throughout the book is just strange.

More annoying is that the links back to simplicity become ever more tenuous as the book goes on. For example, Segall says that the product names of Dell (Vostro, Latitude, Precision) are confusing in terms of understanding the walk up the range. Yet he claims that Apple's iPod range is a bastion of simplicity with Shuffle, Nano, Touch and Classic. Sorry, no. That is not a valid point as the same issue exists with both Dell and Apple there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It is certainly simple! 23 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I like it because it is easy and quick to read, with many interesting points that I can take away and adopt in my professional life. I liked the structure, again from a simplicity point of view. But I did find it somewhat repetitive and it felt at times that the author was really 'stretching' out what he had to say. It was recommended to me as an audio book and having now read it I think that was a good recommendation over the hard format.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Really insightful where your client offerings can be complex
The latter half of this book is it's strength. The examples provided, along with Job's statements of his relentless pursuit of simplicity, are a stark lesson to most of us.
Published 2 months ago by Allan Watton
4.0 out of 5 stars simple message, great read
Loved this book. Many books on Apple and I like this one particularly. Bit repetitive in the message but that's the point. It needs hammering home in business!
Published 3 months ago by Garelaos
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for marketing enthusiasts
I would recommend this book to anyone who has even remote interest in marketing , advertising or branding. Great read from one of the very most respected figures in the industry. Read more
Published 5 months ago by luk
4.0 out of 5 stars KISS
Nothing really new here. But to know and not to do is not to know!
Here is simplicity in practice, and the book will inspire those who are ready to act on the principle.
Published 9 months ago by DCN
3.0 out of 5 stars very good key points
Some very good key points that I'll look forward to putting in to practice. I particularly like the idea of small groups of clever people. Read more
Published 10 months ago by David Douglas
5.0 out of 5 stars Simplicity is the goal
I bought this book at the airport, gave my copy away to someone in a cafe, then re-bought here. I have read the other reviews, and can understand some giving it 3 stars, but for me... Read more
Published 10 months ago by OpenToNewIdeas
3.0 out of 5 stars Insanely repetitive
Been an Apple fan for almost longer than I care to admit/believe. Read this during my summer break, and it was quick & easy to digest, but ... ever so repetitive. Read more
Published 10 months ago by G. Lennon
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone wanting to unlock their potential
Finishing the last page I turned to the beginning and started again! There is so much insight and common sense packed into these pages you have to read it multiple times; then... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Treve Wearne
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great insights, but could have been er, simpler...
This is another business book that could have been very effectively edited to half its word count... Read more
Published 15 months ago by guydickinson
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but repetitive in some parts
A good read and an interesting addition to the many books about Apple and Steve Jobs. However, I found that the content could have been better served in a smaller book. Read more
Published 15 months ago by AvidGamer
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