I have to say I don’t think that a lot of the people writing commentary on this are the sort of viscerally self aware, creative people that (I think we can rightfully presume) run Apple’s design department. Or maybe they are, but they come from a time or place where an outward act of reflection like this is somewhat frowned upon.
And that’s what I think this is – an act of self reflection through the medium they actively use to express their ideas: a physical product. Sure, it could have been a website, it could have been a video, but – hell – as the video featuring Jony Ive showcasing the design department shows, they are all about expressing ideas through hardware. With Apple’s sort of rudderless product direction under Tim Cook over the last few years, throughly going through the things and ideas in the past that made them great, codifying it, and putting it in the past seems like an obvious move to me.
(I think the fact that it’s priced at $199 and $299 respectively reinforces this.)
So maybe the new Apple book is self involved and stupid, and maybe the criticism is a little warranted, but until I’ve (or anyone for that matter) has seen the book and been able to get a better grasp on what it is/is about I’m not going to pass judgement. It seems probable that there’s a bigger picture here that a lot of the initial criticism is missing.
(As an aside: would it be ok to make a book like this if Apple were a small design company rather than one of the largest corporations in the world? Apple made a book before the return of Steve Jobs and no one cared, probably because no one cared about Apple…)