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1 February 2013

Inside Steve's Brain by Leander Kahney

The appeal of this multi-faceted book extends to marketing folks, product designers, budding entrepreneurs and anyone curious about how Apple came to be the most valued company in the world.

It works as a narrative on Apple's history, with an extended timeline compared with rival books, and includes a detailed look at the formation of Pixar and it's day-to-day activities. Historical information is blended with analysis of the single-minded focus, marketing methods, design practices and perfectionist approach that made Apple the company it is today.

Threaded throughout are tales of the man himself and how he shaped the company right from the very beginning. While it certainly isn't intended to be chronological biographical study of Jobs, it is nevertheless full of interesting facts and anecdotes.

His religious devotion to perfection is evident in every chapter. Examples include boxing of the original Macintosh in 1984, meticulous attention to screw heads, precise lighting arrangements for Apple's onstage announcements and the internal layout of the high-street stores.

Of course, Jobs needed a world-class team of people around him to achieve such great things. Each individual was invariably handpicked, lured by Jobs's vision and cajoled by his undoubted charm. Yet they needed to share his passion, adjust to his individualistic work practices, weather his fierce outbursts, cope with his often overbearing attention to detail, and handle the relentless pressure to deliver nothing less than perfection.

The book's smooth narrative style and flow makes for an enjoyable read. Nevertheless, I'd like to have seen more insights from Jobs himself. The majority of the views expressed come from employees and associates, which aren't the same as listening in on his own thoughts. In addition, the reverence given to Jobs and his methods means we miss out on a more balanced view of what it was really like to work for one of the most influential characters of the computing age.

Read more Apple analysis posts.