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The Obsession that Drives Apple's Success

by Ken Segall

Pub Date: April 26th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59184-483-9
Publisher: Portfolio

Steve Jobs’ longtime advertising guru weighs in with a memoir/extra-long promotional brochure about the secret to Apple’s success: Simplicity with a capital S.

Inveterate copywriter Segall’s goal is to sell readers on the idea of how the ruthless but noble Jobs beat his Silicon Valley competition into submission using his “Simplicity Stick.” Like an inescapable mantra throughout the book, the author constantly reiterates the idea of Apple’s colossal struggle against Simplicity’s worst foe: Complexity. When Jobs left NeXT to head up Apple, he went on a mission to streamline his products to make them simpler to use than those of complexity-loving rival brands such as Intel and Dell. In relating Jobs’ monomaniacal mission to make the world of handheld technology a simpler place, Segall employs an unsettling combination of militaristic language and softer terms that suggest humanist sensitivity in Apple’s quest for global domination. Describing Jobs’ commitment to brutal honesty with his employees, the author writes, “Being straight with people alone does not make you a heartless bastard.” Of course, having well-documented ties to sweatshop labor doesn’t exactly make you a paragon of virtue. Readers should not expect to find unpleasant facts that undermine the deification of the author’s subject. Although Segall fully discloses Jobs’ well-known tendency to steal ideas from competitors, this dubious characteristic doesn’t stop the author from painting a broader portrait of Jobs as a tirade-prone earthbound god ruling his Apple kingdom with fear, while generously dispensing technological convenience to the grateful masses. “Steve’s greatest achievement wasn’t a Mac, iPod, iPhone, or iPad,” writes the author. “He accomplished something that no one had even contemplated before. Steve Jobs built a monument to Simplicity. That monument is Apple itself.”

Fine inspirational material for aspiring tech moguls, but far too propagandistic.