Jony Ive The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products – Review

Jony Ive The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
Author: Leander Kahney

Published by: Portfolio/Penguin
ISBN: 978-1591846178 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0241001776 (Paperback)
Available from all good bookstores
Online Price: Variable but in the region of $16.75US or £12.00UK Hardback / $12.75US or £9.99UK Softback

Jony Ive

Jony Ive The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products is a handsome, silver and black jacketed, 320 page book that isn’t exactly a biography. It covers Sir Jonathan Ive’s early family life, schooling, higher education, and working life before Apple, as well as the products he is so well known for. It is, I would say, more a study of the man’s work history, methods, philosophy, accomplishments, and the challenges behind them. In as much as anyone can study such things relating to an intensely private individual who works at perhaps the most secretive company in the world!

Leander Kahney has covered Apple for many years and has met Jony Ive at least once. Here he brings together a wealth of information, quotes, and comments by contemporaries and colleagues, and compiles it into an enjoyable and easy to follow book. It is organised relatively chronologically, but where timelines overlap, or events relate to a specific device to some extent, they are sometimes separated into relevant chapters to avoid unnecessary confusion.

Jony Ive The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products breaks down into 13 Chapters: School Days; A British Design Education; Life in London; Early Days at Apple; Jobs Returns to Apple; A String of Hits; The Design Studio Behind the Iron Curtain; Design of the iPod; Manufacturing, Materials and Other Matters; The iPhone; The iPad; Unibody Everywhere; and Apple’s MVP. The self explanatory titles describe the main thrust of the content of each. There are also Notes crediting the sources, an Index, and a few pages of black and white photographs.

I found this an interesting and pleasurable read. It was also a relatively easy read; it wasn’t overly technical or bogged down in minutiae of little or no real interest or relevance to the average reader. I found myself drawn into it and keen to read more. If I were to raise any criticisms I think it might be that perhaps Leander lets his admiration for Sir Jonathan shine through just a little too much. No one is perfect, and I don’t think even Jony Ive would take it too badly if we pointed out that perhaps the “hockey puck” mouse was a triumph of form over function. Or that no matter how hard they have tried, the Apple Design Group haven’t always got everything absolutely perfect every time. However, it doesn’t spoil the book. It certainly is a study of the man and not a paean of praise.


I found this book well worth reading. It was easy to understand, not difficult to follow due to sensible chapter choices, and informative enough to make me feel I had developed at least a little more understanding of Sir Jonathan, his work, and how Apple goes about developing products.

I give Jony Ive The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products a MyMac Rating of 8 out of 10


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About Simon Parnell

Co-host of the Essential Apple Podcast alongside Mark Chappell who lives in the far West of Wales, while I make my abode deep in the East of Suffolk. Father, Husband, Mac Lover, DTP & Prepress Professional, Geek, Cook, Drinker of Wines, Beers & Spirits. I am British, and now the "wrong" side of 50 years old, I am married and have 3 children. I started working in a design studio in the early 80's back in the days of Cow Gum, Rotring Pens and Scalpels. I moved on to using Macs in about 1989 (way back when 40MB Hard Drives were BIG and 8MB RAM was a top end spec, System 6.0.3 was the cutting edge and the IIcx I worked on set me back about £5000... eek!). Since then I have worked on pretty much every generation of Macintosh and every Mac OS Apple have released. I have done design and pre-press work with a wide variety of "DTP" applications old, new, well known and obscure. I have a fascination with finding cheaper alternatives to the "big guns" so DTP can be accessible to everybody! For the last 15+ years I have worked in a small print works close to my home doing design and pre-press work.

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