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The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness Hardcover – Oct 24 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (Oct. 24 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743285220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743285223
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 14.7 x 22.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #866,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Salomons on Feb. 6 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Perfect Thing" may seem like a can-do-no-wrong homage to some facets of Apple's marketing schemes, but at it's core it is more interested (I think) in looking at the process of creating a 'THING' that can become so entrenched in the very fabric of culture. Actually, I stumbled across an article in WIRED a couple months ago that was a sub-text from this book on the iPod, read the article, and thought it would have been a much better article had it been explored a little more deeply. Voila... it already was.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 28 reviews
39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Excellent history and cultural analysis Oct. 17 2006
By Jason Snell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I get an avalanche of technology-related books mailed to me, and it's rare when I actually try to read one. It's even rarer for me to read it all the way through with a smile pasted on my face the entire time. But that's what happened as I read Steven Levy's "The Perfect Thing."

As someone who has covered the iPod (and, indeed, was at the iPod launch event in Cupertino in 2001), it was great to see Levy's mixture of iPod history with an analysis of how the iPod (and similar products, like the Walkman) have impacted our lives and the world of popular culture. Levy's book is never dry, and combines a historical account of the creation of the 21st century's first iconic product with a real attempt to analyze what makes the iPod both ubiquitous and cool.

Whether you're a fan of Apple's product-creation geniuses, or just of the "perfect storm" of technology that created this particular Perfect Thing, Steven Levy's book is a fun, informative, and thought-provoking analysis of the biggest technological innovation of the past five years.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Unique and Fascinating! Oct. 29 2006
By BigSur - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steven Levy has written an excellent book that I didn't want to put down. It not only traces the development of the iPod over the last five years, but the book is filled with independent chapters that can be, and in fact should be, read in any order. Indeed, when looking at multiple copies of this book, you'll find only chapter 1 is in the same place--other chapters are "shuffled" and appear in different orders. I found myself enjoying this feature as much as the iPod--first I read about Podcasts, then Downloading, then how the iPod remains so "cool" for such a wide range of people.

I chose to read this book not only because of how amazed I am at how people (including my teenaged kids) love their iPods so much, but also because I'm curious about the future of music as we know it, the disappearance of the CD and along with it the album cover and lyric booklet, and the explosion of songs available for purchase through the iTunes store.

The writing in this book is terrific--informative and provocative. I highly recommend it!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
iAin't, but no matter Dec 10 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have had portable MP3 players longer than most people I know (first one: Diamond Rio 500), without ever owning an iPod (current model: Sansa e260, Hall of Fame: Rio Karma). I have never owned a Mac. While I have a copy of iTunes on my Windows Media Center machine, I don't use it much (lately I've been using URGE To Go).

But Steven Levy is a fine writer with a lot of connections and a personal history to the subject matter of this book. And so, it's a very good book, even though I felt like an outsider as I read it (perhaps ironically, I read it on my Treo). As many have noted, it's a bit too pro-Apple/Jobs, and too often Levy slides through with the easy "yes, others were there first, but iPods are cooler" comments. But the overall result is excellent. Since the chapters are standalones, you'll like some better than you'll like others, depending on your interests. My favorite chapter was on shuffle play, which combines history, science, and philosophy in equal parts. (Just remember, correlation doesn't equal causation.)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2009: Out of date now, but covers teh origins April 24 2009
By Dave Millman - Published on
Format: Paperback
Other reviewers have covered the contents of this book pretty well. I just read it (April 2009), and wanted to offer two criticisms from a 2009 perspective:

1. As you would expect from a book published in 2006, there is no mention of the iPhone or iPod Touch, which were introduced in Summer 2007. Unfortunately for this book, the iPhone and Touch rather masterfully complete the iPod family, combining playback with communication and portable web browsing. I haven't yet seen an industry observer who understood how well Apple has rounded out their iPod product line with the Touch (touch control, big screen, WiFi, browsing, music, App Store) and iPhone (all that plus phone).

2. Although he acknowledges the depth, simplicity and market leadership of iTunes, Levy treats iTunes as an iPod feature. But without iTunes, iPod is just a deluxe, expensive MP3 player, much like the Mac is a deluxe, expensive computer. iTunes is why iPod has 70% market share in MP3 players: iPod + iTunes is a whole product, with enjoyable music shopping and simple downloads. Creative and Microsoft and others have copied and continue to copy iPod, but nobody else has come close to the whole product.

Summary: enjoyable read, but dated and getting less comprehensive by the day.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Perfectly fascinating Nov. 5 2006
By Chris MacAskill - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the most interesting book on product innovation I have ever read, and I've read a lot of them.

I went to work at Steve Jobs' NeXT, Inc., in the early 90s because I wanted to live what I'd read in the books. I doubted working for Steve could be as dramatic as the books made it seem, but the reverse was true: the authors never discovered some of the juiciest stuff.

Turns out I know 4 of the most colorful characters in this story: Steve, Jon Rubinstein, Tony Fadell, and Steven Levy. Levy has great access to the best info. He loves and completely gets Apple and the iPod.

If you want a fascinating read about how the stars aligned to bring arguably the world's coolest product to market, this is it. It isn't just about about the amazing drama Steve always brings to product launches...there is a perfect villain in this story, the RIAA, who everyone loves to hate. Ironically, the former enfant terrible is now the hero who must save the world from this evil force.

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