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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining reading, but NOT a business book!
I must start my review by pointing out that I read this book purely out of interest, not with any intention of learning marketing skills. I suspect if you read this as a business person looking for guidance on to avoid the pitfalls of others (as I suspect the other reviewer did), then you would be less impressed.

Much of the book is made up of case histories of...
Published on 11 Sept. 2012 by Yossu

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Memoir dressed up as business textbook
I was disappointed by this book, as the title had led me to expect it to be more instructive than it turned out to be. If, in order to make a point, the author has to go into intricate technical detail about which release of which piece of software on which platform, you can bet that the point isn't very important.

You can criticise 'In Search of Excellence'...
Published on 7 Nov. 2008 by Gavin Wilson


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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining reading, but NOT a business book!, 11 Sept. 2012
This review is from: In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters (Paperback)
I must start my review by pointing out that I read this book purely out of interest, not with any intention of learning marketing skills. I suspect if you read this as a business person looking for guidance on to avoid the pitfalls of others (as I suspect the other reviewer did), then you would be less impressed.

Much of the book is made up of case histories of how big companies who ruled the IT world came a cropper by making bad decisions (or by not making any, which is often as bad). As a passive observer of history, it's easy (and amusing) to sit back and watch the Big Guys (or more usually, the ex-Big Guys) make mistakes. Truth be told, this is half the enjoyment of the book!

This was all good stuff until page 274.At that point, the author decided to pretend it was a real business book, and offer advice on how to avoid the mistakes described in the previous chapters. He did this by analysing (very briefly) each chapter so far, and commenting on what they could have done. Apart from the fact that this didn't really interest me, it was too late. This stuff should have formed the end of the preceding chapters, not been added here where it looked like an afterthought.

I skim-read most of this, and would have ended the book there, but something compelled me to look at the glossary. This turned out to be quite funny, as some of his definitions were (intentionally) sarcastic and amusing.

I don't know how accurate the descriptions of what went on are, and I suspect that like any history book, they are very coloured by the author's own personal feelings. I wouldn't put too much weight on the facts presented, and certainly wouldn't feel justified in criticising the companies described, as it's hard to say that anyone else (even the author, despite what he might claim) would have made better decisions in the heat of the moment. It's easy to criticise afterwards, and even to point out how the mistakes could have been avoided based on information available at the time, but it's doubtful if many people would be able to see this with enough clarity to avoid the mistakes at the time.

So, if you are looking for an interesting read, and are prepared to take this with a pinch of salt, then it's a great book up until page 274 (plus the glossary). If you're looking for a serious history book of the time, or are looking for serious business advice on how to avoid making such mistakes, this probably isn't the book for you. You might still enjoy it, but I doubt you would find what you were looking for.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Fun to read too., 3 April 2015
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This review is from: In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters (Paperback)
Not as yet finished it, but so far it is well written and interesting. I'm using it as a reference source and it is accord with other research material I have gathered.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Memoir dressed up as business textbook, 7 Nov. 2008
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Gavin Wilson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters (Paperback)
I was disappointed by this book, as the title had led me to expect it to be more instructive than it turned out to be. If, in order to make a point, the author has to go into intricate technical detail about which release of which piece of software on which platform, you can bet that the point isn't very important.

You can criticise 'In Search of Excellence' for making generalisations that turned out to be wrong. You can criticise its authors for fabricating evidence. But it's a much better organised book than this one.

I sense that this book was initially intended as a humorous autobiography of a man who worked in the IT industry throughout Bill Gates's high-tech career. It was only an afterthought perhaps, or his editor's suggestion maybe, to try to draw some lessons out of his experiences. But if you're going to do that properly, you need to group those themes together. Instead, the book's chapters are organised by vendor -- an Ashton Tate here, a Novell there -- which means that the lessons are uncoordinated.

I am sure the book makes a good give-away if the author runs courses on product marketing. But the book doesn't really stand on its own.

And by the way, when the subtitle of the book mentions 'high-tech' marketing disasters, the author is talking specifically about PCs -- not other IT products, not cybernetics, not space engineering, nor drug design. In short, the cover promises rather more than it delivers.
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