From the start I was left with a fuzzy definition of what really constitutes emotional design in the mind of the writer. This is certainly not Don Norman's "Emotional Design" which better aligns with Kathy Sierra's ideas about empowerment, self-image, and self-satisfaction in regard to how the products people use make them feel. The examples and case studies later in the book only reinforce my feeling that what this book means by "emotional design" is "personality" – and that the real target is marketing, not application UI.
The first and foremost example is the web form builder, Wufoo. It's full of personality – dinosaurs, fun colors, and cheeky copy abound. But all that personality feels like branding that has leaked onto the app from the marketing site. Peel back the personality layer and you still have a stunning app that is easy to use, clear, clever and still fun. Sometimes fun is a product of success. I like products that make hard work easier and make me feel like I'm great at it. Personality is fun and Wufoo is among the best. I'm sure it makes lots people love them. But personality isn't going to make a bad app experience better. Nor is a strong, irreverent personality the only or best path to emotional engagement.
This book leaves me with the fundamental question? Do I want users to think my product is awesome, or would I rather they felt awesome about themselves because they used my product? "Emotional design" feels like it has the wrong priorities. I'm certain there are many benefits (as outlined in the book) to making your customers love your company and your products. But I'll bet there is a deeper emotional response when your product makes people feel great about themselves. People like to do things they're good at, things that make them feel good.
This seems to me like a symptom of a greater trend in web UI design. So many apps today have beautiful, lick-able Apple-inspired UI that takes all the focus away from the comparatively bland content. Emotional Design similarly focuses the emotions of the user on the app instead of on themselves.