INSANELY SIMPLE: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success by Ken Segall

Genres: Business, Design, Nonfiction

Rating: 4/5

Recommend to: Product managers, Marketers, Start-up founders, Entrepreneurs.

Number of pages: 239 pages


The book starts out slow and repetitive. Yes simplicity is the best thing ever, and yes we get it simplicity is hard to achieve, and yes we get it complexity is happy to creep into everything we do and that it is bad. And first I was a little bit of disappointed about the book, but then it picked up. The author started to share his experience at Apple and at Dell and he shared (his opinion) with us why something worked and why something didn’t. What I also loved about the book is that the author pointed out a couple of marketing/ad campaigns that were based on the human touch principle. To make my point short I loved this book because it showed a little bit of life at Apple at the marketing and leadership level. The author does not hold back that Steve Jobs was rude, and mean if he strongly disagreed with you, but on the other hand leadership at Apple was focused on the product and service experience which by itself demanded a human touch. Apple focuses on emotions, while most other big companies focus on analysis, tests, focus groups, charts, revenues, big choice…. Not saying that Apple does not focus on revenue and profit, of course they do, but they know that high profit and high revenue are side effects of giving their customers the best experience possible. 

Today Apple is known as one of the most valuable companies and brands in the world. But at a certain point in the past Apple almost closed it doors. The turnaround in the company was when it got Steve Jobs back. The book talks about the energy Steve brought back into the company when he returned. Before Steve’s return Apple had a couple of CEOs who were typical CEOs, by that I mean they focused on numbers. For example they focused on the number of models of a certain product had. And that made Apple the same as any other tech company – a wide range of choice confused customers, at the same time it caused high costs for the company. The research on human behavior done by neuroscience now shows why Jobs strategy worked. Apple simplified what it offered to its customers, it minimized the range of product models, and by doing so it prevented choice overload with their customers. At the same time the products were of high quality and elegant visual design. There was also a big shift in marketing. Everything in Apple now was based on user experience and consequently on emotions. You can see that in Apple’s ad campaigns. Again neuroscience shows that people react to the emotions a brand triggers in them, and that mirror neurons cause people to react to other people’s emotions. Research shows that people believe that they can achieve happiness with a product or service because others before them have. 

One of the points made in the book was that keep things high quality but simple. That is hard to achieve, it takes more dedication than you can imagine. It is not enough you find the right solution for your customers, you need to work at this solution to make it as easy to use as possible. You will get to read more about that in the book. The other good point made by the book is that it is very important to invest into your company’s culture and brand. Only when everyone you need is onboard the same ship and paddles in the same direction will you get ahead and create added value for your customers. 


  • Clarity propels an organization. Not occasional clarity but pervasive, twenty-four-hours, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners clarity.
  • As human beings, few of us are immune to the emotional needs of those around us. Even if we don’t say it out loud ,we care. At least a little.
  • Compromise will often send you back to the drawing board and raise questions about your own talent in a client’s mind.
  • The small group principle: Start a project with a small group of smart people – and keep the group small. Every time the body count goes higher, you’re inviting complexity.
  • Showing a little brutal honesty at the right time is a pretty good way to earn respect.
  • The quality of work resulting from a project increases in direct proportion to the degree of involvement by the ultimate decision maker.
  • If you think it’s important, you find time for it.
  • Ideas need to be nurtured and protected.
  • When process is king, ideas will never be. The more layers you add to a process, the more watered down the final work will become.
  • Get focus on one thing and don’t get distracted by anything else.
  • Companies forget that trying to please everyone is a good way to please no one.
  • Apple build a large and loyal following not because of the products it can make but because of the products it choose to make.
  • People will become attached to a company that gives them a simple shopping experience.
  • Customers demand and appreciate choice – it’s the overdose that becomes damaging. When choice becomes overwhelming, it ceases to be a benefit and starts to become a liability.
  • The basic rule of business – the faster and simpler you can make the buying experience, the more business you’ll do.
  • Some of the most brilliant people on this planet can’t stop themselves from overcomplicating the way they do business. Do not be one of them!
  • Apple’s approach embraced the idea that it’s okay to make a mistake, that it’s better to shoot for the stars and fall short on occasion than to burden itself with processes that  drain the creativity from its ads.
  • The more things you ask people to focus on, the fewer they will remember. Find the most compelling feature and present it in the most compelling way.
  • People will always respond better to a single idea expressed clearly.
  • Never stop moving. The project starts on day one and should consume people from the get-go. No time-outs allowed. Only when people are kept in constant motion do they stay focused with the right kind of intensity. Work isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be gratifying – and keeping the team in motion is what gets you there.
  • If you don’t have a strong brand, then you’re just one of the many slugging it out for customers day by day.
  • A single iconic image can be the most powerful form of communication.
  • In branding focus is on the absence of price.
  • One of the biggest problems in marketing is that companies and brands in their marketing strategies say a hundred things quietly instead of one thing loudly.
  • Instead of asking you to buy a device, apple asks you to buy the emotion.
  • When designing your website your most important concern should be making things easier to find for your customers, and not tracking their movements.
  • Many people incorrectly assume that by increasing the word count they will demonstrate their smarts, when the opposite is almost always closer to reality.
  • At the end of the day, most businesses come down to relationships.
  • The Steve Jobs presentation playbook: Lay out the agenda, lay out the facts for each topic, then summarize each topic before moving on to the next. At the end of the show, he’d summarize the high points of the entire show all over again. if he had a thought he wanted to stick with you, he’d repeat it. Over and over.
  • What determines the humanity in a company’s message is tone – which is the combined effect of the words and images it chooses to use.
  • The way you tell the story can contains all the emotions needed. You do not need to produce photographic evidence.
  • Simplicity requires that you have a set of core values that pervade everything you do – and everything you say.
  • “When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people start there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solution” – Steve Jobs (2006 Newsweek interview).
  • Once you come up with a solution, this should be more of a beginning than an end. If you work harder and look more closely, there’s always something you can whittle away. It’s when you get to the essence of your idea that you’ll have something to be proud of.
  • A see of choices is no choice at all.
  • If you wish people to form a relationship with your product, it needs a name people can naturally associate with.


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Thank you for your time. I hope you have found this book review helpful. Talk to you in the comment section.

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