Leander Kahney: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
Kahney’s biography of Jony Ive is written in a matter of fact style that doesn’t draw much attention to the story or the subject. Although the book covers Jony Ive’s life from child design prodigy (hard to believe there could be such a thing) to Apple’s most respected industrial designer- the book mostly covers the products Jony has designed for Apple: iMac, iBook, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Jony Ive’s biggest success was catching Steve Jobs’ eye and sharing the same his minimalist taste. Steve and Jony designed for the future, but it was their unwillingness to let any element of design slip, no matter how small the detail that set them apart.
Ive’s designs were certainly consistent, but as much as I love Apple products I can’t say they exceptional. When Steve Jobs pivoted the company from an Engineering based company to a Design based company, that wasn’t so much genius as finding a profitable niche.
The topic was interesting. The writing was so-so. The character wasn’t fleshed out. Kahney had extremely limited access to friends and family and no access to Ive or Apple- so there probably wasn’t much he could do. The best part of the book were discussions on how Apple was able to use innovative manufacturing techniques in their product designs. The reader might assume these processes would come from engineering or manufacturing departments of Apple, but they were driven (often to crazy extremes) by the design department.
Excerpts From My Kindle
Jony’s ID group came up with spec: The glass needed to be 1.3 mm to fit into the iPhone design. Jobs told Corning’s CEO, Wendell Weeks, they had six weeks to create as much of it as they could. Weeks replied they didn’t have the capacity and actually, Chemcor had never been created in this way or in such volume. “None of our plants make the glass now,” he told Jobs. But Jobs cajoled the CEO. “Get your mind around it,” he said. “You can do it.” – location 3394-97
[One of the saddest aspects of the book was how negative U.S. manufactures were to innovative ideas and how positive Chinese manufactures (Taiwan) were. ]
The arrival of the iPhone at Macworld was the culmination of more than two and half years of intense hardship, learning and dedication to bring it to market. As one Apple executive summed it up, “Everything was a struggle. Every. Single. Thing was a struggle for the entire two-and-a-half years.” – location 3430-32
Trying to persuade people to talk about the company isn’t easy. Apple people don’t talk, even about things that happened thirty years ago. The company is so secretive, that divulging anything–anything at all–is a firing offense. Everyone associated with the company–employees, contractors, partners–has signed a stack of nondisclosure agreements, which threaten not just termination but prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. Employees are mum about current product plans, which is understandable, but they won’t talk about old projects either. The secrecy extends to every single thing Apple does, but especially applies to its internal processes, which it considers industrial trade secrets. Apparently, knowing how Apple conducts meetings, for example, could give competitors a leg up. Apple is the ultimate need-to-know culture. It operates like a spy organization. – location 4122-28