Feb 12

And now, a different kind of Apple book

True confession time:

I’ve written a book.

Something tells me you won’t be surprised when I tell you it’s about Steve Jobs and Apple. But this book is different. Really.

That’s because (a) I had a unique vantage point to some pivotal events in Apple history, and (b) this book focuses on one thing alone — the core value that has driven Apple since the beginning.

Insanely Simple is about Apple’s obsession with Simplicity.

You can see Simplicity in everything Apple does: the way it organizes, innovates and communicates. In fact, one could argue that it was Steve’s unrelenting passion for Simplicity that helped Apple rise from near-death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011.

My observations come from over 12 years of experience as Steve’s agency creative director, from NeXT to Apple. Also relevant to my story are the years I spent on the agency team during John Sculley’s rule at Apple. And then I had some interesting (and often excruciating) experiences in the worlds of Dell, Intel and IBM — which made me even more conscious of what sets Apple apart.

To Steve Jobs, Simplicity was a religion. But it was also a weapon — one that he used to humble competitors once thought to be invincible.

Apple’s devotion to Simplicity is the one constant that can be traced from the first Apple II computer all the way to today’s iPad. Though the company’s success is built upon engineering and design skills, it’s the love of Simplicity that truly powers Apple, revolution after revolution.

Technically, this is a business book. The idea is that in a complicated world, nothing stands out like Simplicity. If you better understand how Apple’s obsession has driven its success, you can adopt the same principles to boost your own organization — or your own career.

That said, Insanely Simple is a general interest book too. It’s a fun read for anyone who’d like to know what it was like to work in Steve’s world during the rebirth of Apple. It will give you a better understanding of what makes Apple Apple.

Crass salesmanship alert: I think you’ll like it. In my book, as I do in my blog, I use my personal experiences with Apple, NeXT and other companies to illustrate the power of Simplicity — and to warn of the evils of Complexity. Many of my stories have never been told publicly, so you’ll find more than a few surprises.

There’s a bit more about the book here.

Insanely Simple is available April 26th, but you gain extra appreciation points if you pre-order — which you can do at iBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and 800-CEO-read.

Last, I invite you to join my new mail list over there in the sidebar. I promise not to abuse the privilege, and I’d love to make you part of my secret club.

Thanks all!

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  • Tom Ruff

    You make a good distinction between simplification and oversimplification. Thanks Ken – looking forward to the book.

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  • Engineer


    Nobody has abandoned FCP except avid and adobe sales guys who weren’t FCP users in the first place.

    If you think lion is terrible, you’re making the same error of those who denigrated the Mac because it didn’t have a command line or those who denigrated FCPX because it radically moved editing forward.

    Apple soars like an eagle cause it doesn’t listen to the advice of turkeys.

  • EricE

    Great looking book – I just pre-ordered the Kindle edition and am eagerly awaiting it’s electronic delivery!

    @Engineer”Apple soars like an eagle cause it doesn’t listen to the advice of turkeys.”


    @Tom Ruff – you must have used a different version of Lion than I am because all I see are subtle enhancements over Snow Leopard – the biggest and most welcome: being able to resize a window from any corner. iOS-ish features like the Launchpad are *completely optional* – along with most of the things people hyperventilate over in Lion.

    As for those who “abandoned” FCP – there going to be feeling pretty stupid when FCPX matures over the next year or so and their competitors start eating their lunch. The only catastrophic mistake Apple made with FCP X was stopping the sale of FCPS and then taking way to long to re-enstate sales of it again. There are already more plug-ins for FCP X than there ever were for FCP. FCP X has the foundation for the long haul and put’s Apple years ahead of their competitors. Just like when the iOS App Store was first released and all the dire predictions of failure for the “walled garden”, I think we are already starting to see the same with FCP X. It won’t be obvious for at least one, probably two years – buy then, those who bet against are going to feel pretty stupid. I’m not saying everyone should drop everything and switch now, but to completely ignore it will probably turn out to be a pretty bum carrier move!

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  • Engineer


    “Just like when the iOS App Store was first released and all the dire predictions of failure”

    This has become an indicator. They screamed about the iPad too. They screamed about the iPod.

    In fact, the more they scream and the louder, the more successful the product turns out being.

    I think this is, the more Apple advances the state of the art, the more people will scream because its different.

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  • Riz

    “Nobody has abandoned FCP except avid and adobe sales guys who weren’t FCP users in the first place.”

    On which planet you live?

  • ken segall

    To all who were asking about international availability: I am told that the Kindle version will be available wherever those devices are sold. It will available on iBooks wherever iBooks is accessible. If anyone has trouble finding it, please send me a note on my Contact page and I will do my best to get to the bottom of it.

  • dear Henri

    Felicitations, mon pote.
    Available April 26 in ze UK — too late for my Ester egg :(

  • Michael McDaniel

    Typo here: “That said, Insanely Simple is general interest book too.”

  • ken segall

    Yikes. Fixed! (And it’s amazing how many people helped proofread this one without catching it.) Many thanks.

  • For you not to have written this book would be simply insane. Looking forward to reading it.

  • No preorder option in the norwegien iBook-store :(

  • Chuck Provancher

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it.

  • Still not available in Norway :(

  • ksegall

    Not sure which source you’re trying to buy from. But what I now understand is this:

    The book is available from Amazon wherever Kindle devices are sold. In the iBookstore, my publisher has to strike a deal with each country individually. Apparently deals have not yet been struck in certain countries. Last I heard, that was Switzerland and the Philippines. Hadn’t heard about Norway, but I imagine that’s the case there too. Hopefully these things will be settled sometime soon. And I hope you enjoy the book when you finally get one…

  • I try to keep all my books in iBook. I’m adding a reminder for me to check again in a months time. I am really looking forwarwd to this book. :)

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