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Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  5,102 ratings  ·  293 reviews
To Steve Jobs, Simplicity was a religion. It was also a weapon.

Simplicity isn’t just a design principle at Apple—it’s a value that permeates every level of the organization. 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.

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 26th 2012 by Portfolio Penguin (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  5,102 ratings  ·  293 reviews

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Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Could have used some editing. For a book espousing the advantages of "Simplicity", it could have used some chopping. He basically makes the same point about 15 times before launching into some interesting stories. 100 pages of good stuff, 100 pages of fluff. ...more
Peter Labrow
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Of all of the books jumping on the Steve Jobs bandwagon, this is perhaps the one that’s most of value.

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
Apr 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Like most people who work at the intersection of programming and user experience, I am a big fan of simple. Because of this I thought this book would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I was so wrong that I had to put this book down after getting only half way through it.

My main problem with the book is that this book never really defines, or even seems to have a good understanding of, what the term Simple means. In the end this is not a book about simplicity, it is a book about how much the
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting and easy-to-read take on Steve Jobs and Apple from a marketer's perspective. However, I found it really distasteful how he criticized and shared negative insider details about his former clients, particularly Dell. I felt he broke the consultant's unspoken code of conduct. He also shared an anecdote where he let a colleague fail miserably in front of Steve Jobs and, in Segall's own words "So I started doing what any brave advertising guy would do: I made sure I sat outside the line o ...more
Phil Simon
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Yes, this book is that good. It's quite possibly the most important marketing book since Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. Segall shows us how Apple's maniacal emphasis on simplicity distinguishes it from Microsoft, Dell, HP, Intel, and other tech stalwarts.

In an age in which consumers are king, inundating them with features and specs is exactly the wrong approach. Rather, as Segall shows, Apple (through Steve Jobs and continuing under Tim Cook) does the oppo
Shog Al Maskery
Apr 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Honestly, I feel like it's a book that you can benefit a lot from knowing how apple works, but at the same time it was getting a bit boring for me how Apple is the perfect model and how the author was bashing on other brands. ...more
Beth Dean
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Segall talks about his time working on the creative team that served Apple under Steve Jobs. Segall learned and practiced the art of brutal simplicity in marketing and product rollouts.

This is a pursuit I believe in, too. Minus the brutal part. We’re all adults here, after all. No need to be brutal.

I’m interpreting this book as part brilliant and part case of Stockholm Syndrome. Brilliant because the simple approach is best for the consumer. Stockholm Syndromish because some of the behavior he d
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a quirky and charmingly plain collection of anecdotes about Segall's interactions with Steve Jobs, and, more importantly, his takeaway lessons from Apple's success. It is, by design, a cherry-picked history, but in that it actually succeeds where Walter Isaacson's authorized biography failed. Isaacson spent so much time making sure his Steve was well rounded and fairly covered, he forgot to find (for lack of searching, it seems) any cause for the man's mindblowing career. Segall gets to ...more
Jul 18, 2012 rated it liked it
If you can look past the unprofessional way Segall rails on other companies, his bizarre pseudo-religious way of talking about simplicity and his overly enthusiastic love for Apple (even in a book about how great Apple is, Segall comes across as too much of a fanboy), there are some good nuggets here. It's primarily a book about marketing but there are some interesting stories about Steve Jobs and how Apple's best marketing campaigns came about. ...more
Timothy Chklovski
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Disappointing book that promotes power of brutally direct communication and simplicity, and then proceeds to go into anecdotes of tiptoeing around Steve's snap judgements, and packaging things so he might like them.
Does have a good, clear call for a company knowing what its mission is, and the kind of strength a company can derive from building products that meet its high bar and reinforce its key philosophy.
Jun 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
Not a good book. To me Ken Segall seems to just take advantage of the fact that he worked with Jobs and saw him hitting every body with the "simple stick". Did he learn anything from working with Jobs? not clear. Did he apply the learning? No. Have I learned something? No. ...more
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book took me a little bit to get into, as I couldn't get past the character and sheer harshness of Steve Jobs himself. I couldn't help but think if he and Apple hadn't been so successful, he'd have been a run of the mill jerk. However, there was a turning point for me in Chapter 2, when the author, Ken Segall, acknowledged that, "... you can do the the brutal thing without being brutal." Meaning that simplicity takes being brutal in your quest to remove complexity, but you can do it without ...more
Katie Manty
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Excellent business book to make the complex simple. Got a little long.
Anoop Dixith
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Insanely Delightful" would be a good title for the review of this book, which, although far from perfect, tells the story of the Steve Jobs era Apple primarily from an advertising perspective. The story of Steve Jobs is like a universe of its own, with ample scope for a series of gripping, pocketed stories that could be captivating on their own merit but share the underlying theme - the hippie days, the two Steves, the pirates, Sculley and Amelio, NeXT, iProducts, Apple Store, Pixar, Pancreas, ...more
Roy Deseo
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
“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”

The book speaks of only one thing, 'Simplicity'. But mind you, that simplicity has produced and is currently being observed by a multi-billion dollar company, nuff said! This book is just a snappy glimpse in Steve's professionalism. Recommended for young individuals who aspire in jumping-up their level of
Prayag Panchwadkar
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Read only if you are an Apple fanboy or have read no other book on Apple. Most of the stories in the book are widely known.
The writing style has little structure or flow. Most of the book follows a "Steve did this, steve did that" kind of approach.
Good only for a few good Apple stories which hadn't been shared previously which you will find if you search for reviews of the book online.
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Some great stories in here. Unfortunately, it often feels like Ken is on the outside looking in. Plus the book is poorly organized with stories repeated. It would have been better organized chronologically.
Mar 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I DNF this audiobook at +/- 75%

As a more than 20 years Apple products user I was curious to read/listen this book. Some parts of it were interesting, unfortunately there was too much uninteresting rambling and the narration was kind of monotonous.
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Almost seems like an eulogy to Steve Jobs! Other than some juicy insights into Apple's marketing and work ethic, the rest is 'simply' repetitive.

Feb 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
If Ken Segall was really a disciple of Simplicity, this book would be 1/8 its published length. Spoiler alert: Steve Jobs saved Apple when he triumphantly returned to the helm in 1997.
Christa Pusateri
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Interesting stories behind the iconic Apple advertising campaigns combined with some great advice on how to stay focused on the simple, even when it's not easy. ...more
Tom Krug
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended by Margo S
Christina Furtado
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: self-help, business
Fairly obvious examples but good points none-the-less and a quick, easy read.
Pascal Wagner
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is very much a leadership book on how Steve Jobs thinks, his management style and his ambition

When you work with Apple, you know exactly where you stand, what the goals are, and how quickly you need to perform. You're also aware of the consequences should you screw up. Clarity propels an organization. Not occasional clarity but pervasive, 24 hour, in-your-face take-no-prisoners clarity. Most people never perceive that this is lacking in their organization, but 90% of the time it
Xander Post
Mar 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Insanely Simple: The Obsession that Drives Apple’s Success was one of the recommended readings for students of the Entrepreneurship and Business Development Honours Track at the University of Twente. We experienced this book as a very practical thinking but rather mind-numbing read.

Upon finishing this book, we reflected and found that its strengths were ironically also its shortcomings: Ken Segall made sure to sketch a good view of his time at Apple, but also at other companies like DELL. The c
Mar 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Insanely repetitive and monotonic.
As a long time Apple user and follower I was curious to read read book. I am a big fan of simple and elegant ways of doing things. However, if you follow this company on the news and blog posts, you won’t find much of new ideas or behind the scenes stories here. Instead it is a nostalgic look back at an advertising creative director's career orbiting Apple, recounting yet more infamous Steve Jobs moments; which was more than well documented elsewhere. I don’t t
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Jobs: 1. Computers (iMac) 2. Music (iPod & iTunes) 3. Smartphones (iPhone) 4. Computers (iPad)

-only needed people included in meetings
-larger the meeting, less gets done
-send meeting info out beforehand, use meeting for discussing responses to info
-Direct Decision Maker must be involved at every step in group process, not just reviewing and saying yes
-High emphasis on ideas > processes
-potentially own a word “Yes”
-Get “fan boys” to post videos about new launch
-Get enemies — gets traction
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
As someone who is currently in the same profession as the author, I found the backstories and anecdotes around the agency-client relationship and Steve's methodological approach to simplicity fascinating and insightful.

It certainly gives a behind-the-scenes take at the blood, sweat and tears that manifested into one of Apple's most iconic campaigns of all time.

What I didn't enjoy however, was the writing itself. The prose, for the most part, is palatable. But every so often, I find myself in a
Ana Claudia Santos-Cortez
Way below expectations. The book is a miscellaneous os a tribute to Jobs’ vision for Apple and the author’s attempt to make the book itself his resume.
Also a very poor and repetitive writing before getting to the most relevant and interesting pages.

One cannot debate Simplicity as a motto for a company to live by when the same company overcomplicates their product’s connections (I am referring to the poor capacity of Apple making charge cables work smoothly both for Mac, new and older versions, a
There are some interesting takeaways and stories about Jobs, and some of the ideas can be applied within a non-Apple, non-profit institution (like the one where I work). But so much of Jobs's success was the man himself, and his trademark tactics are unlikely to be successful when in use by someone else. Segall himself admits that "[p]eople accepted Steve Jobs behavior in Steve Jobs. They had a tough time accepting it in anyone else."

Which is why this thin pile of talking points and anecdotes s
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Business-Related ...: Book # 24 Insanely Simple 1 3 Feb 02, 2016 07:48AM  

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48 likes · 4 comments
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.” 6 likes
“I didn’t think of Steve in terms of being nice or mean, approving or disapproving. He was simply being straight with me. The relationship we would have over the years ahead would always remain that simple. Steve didn’t like Complexity in his working relationships any more than he liked extra buttons on his iPod.” 2 likes
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