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The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness
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The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  352 ratings  ·  38 reviews
On October 23, 2001, Apple Computer, a company known for its chic, cutting-edge technology -- if not necessarily for its dominant market share -- launched a product with an enticing promise: You can carry an entire music collection in your pocket. It was called the iPod. What happened next exceeded the company's wildest dreams. Over 50 million people have inserted the devi ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 23rd 2006 by Simon & Schuster
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(showing 1-30 of 690)
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Serge Boucher
Somewhat dated but may still be worth reading if you care about the design process behind the iPod. Interesting discussion about the randomness of "shuffle".
Phil Simon
If I have one complaint about the Steve Jobs' biography from Walter Isaacson, it's that certain topics could be not covered in sufficient depth. I understand why; the book was about the life and times of one of the most influential people in the last fifty years. Yet, while reading it, I couldn't help but want to know more about many things, not the least of which was the iPod.

Enter The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness by Steven Levy. This is a book about one
Joel Tone
It’s a fanboy’s paen to a favorite gadget.

This book gives a good history of the iPod and a description of its cultural significance. What really annoyed me about the book is that it seems to take the perspective that Apple and more specifically Steve Jobs can do no wrong. Any mistakes that must be admitted are at most minor, charming quirks. The fanboy tone really got on my nerves.

As always, Steven Levy does a wonderful job of describing what it was like to actually be one of those who developed
Robert DePriest
Jan 19, 2008 Robert DePriest added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: technofiles, ipod users
Levy describes what he sees as the huge success and impact of the iPod not only as a personal entertainment device but as a force that has changed how we not only consume media but even create it. He describes the creation of the iPod as a saving angel for a struggling Apple when it began to design the product in the late 90s. He marks Apple's success as a combination of hard work nailing exactly the right mix of features and craftsmanship, artistic design, the no-compromise leadership of Steve ...more
This book was very hit and miss for me. Two things became clear very quickly: Steven Levy was smitten at the first click of his iPod, and he's very thorough in his reporting. Both of those work against him at times. I found the chapters about identity and shuffling the most insightful, but elsewhere, there was so much history and so many names packed into chapters that it was difficult to keep everything straight.

Also, for what it's worth, I don't think that "shuffling" the chapters (books were
This is supposedly a book about the iPod and the how and why of Apple's success with it, but really it's just a book about how much Steven Levy loves his iPod, Apple Computer and Steve Jobs. (He loves them all a whole lot.) He spends most of his time on the iPod and Apple and the genius of Steve Jobs, but he also goes into the history of the mp3 player and the Walkman and some of the culture surrounding the iPod (assessing your co-workers personality via their iTunes library!) Best of all, worri ...more

The Perfect Thing covers the story of the Ipod as it was developed and released to the public. It looks not only at the business and the technology but also the sociological effects of the Ipod and what it did to shape culture in the United States. It is a very well written book that the reader can move through easily. I agree with the other reviews that this is a light and fun read with not a ton of substance but just enough to learn something new if you are not familiar with how the Ipod was d
Christine Kirchberger
The book gives fascinating insights, not only into Apple, but also the music industry & tech companies in general!
Now that iPod's popularity has been surpassed by the next big thing (again an Apple product), it is interesting to read this book written at its heyday. Levy chronicles the development of the iPod- showing how many existing technologies came together at the right time to create a beloved product. Levy wrote this book with "stand-alone" chapters, which do not need to be read in order. While this would be great for a professor who wants to pick and choose sections for a class curriculum, the requi ...more
Mani Singh
I picked up this book ahead of Jobs biography as I had just finished Steven Levy's "In the Plex" which is an exceptional effort by the writer. However, this book was bit of a let down and perhaps could ve been finished by wasting just half the rain forests by saving the paper. Nonetheless its a good account of the phenomenal rise of iPods. If you could read with skipping pages, it's a good read. If you intend to read it from cover to cover, it ll be hard to finish....
I loved this book. I don't own an iPod, but I do own 5 other MP3 players and am nuts about digital music. But I've always thought and still do think the iPod is the most creative, beautiful digital music player invented. The author traces the origins of the iPod, but more interestingly, writes about the impact of the iPod on the way we listen to music, on the way music is consumed as well as the "hipness" of this little revolutionary device.
Sarah Heffern
May 09, 2007 Sarah Heffern rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love their iPods
Shelves: tech, nonfiction
When Alison loaned my this book, she said, "You shouldn't read this because it's [work VP's] new favorite book; you should read it because you love your iPod." And she was right.

I started using the shuffle function on my iPod more after reading this book, because of the author's fascination with it and the concept of randomization in general. I think it's made me enjoy my iPod even more, which is an unusual outcome from reading a book.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 06, 2007 Melissa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: wannabe technonerds
Shelves: thenakedtruth
Who would have thought it possible to write a "page-turner" about the iPod? Picked it up to read on a break and had to check it out to finish it. Makes technology understandable to someone who has a very passing acquaintance with it. Very much a sociological study as well, it explains how the "coolness factor" comes into play when Jobs runs Apple and why this little piece of tech has become such a cultural icon.
Adih Respati
Steven Levy starts The Perfect Thing with iPod history, probably the first take on iPod's story which gives credit to actual group of people responsible for iPod instead of giving an over-credit to Jobs as many literatures do. Then he continues on to how iPod goes through its business saga, came to define owners personality, and lastly shape a new culture. The Perfect shines on the last two account.

Despite the subtitle, this book doesn't so much study "how the iPod shuffles commerce, et al", but rather reiterate the claim over and over...and over. Pure Macfan brain candy that won't really convince the unconverted or tell adherents anything they don't already believe, a few interesting glimpses into the iPod's design notwithstanding.
Aug 18, 2007 Greg rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: iPod nerds
Recently I got really curious about the business decisions behind the creation of the iPod, so I picked up "The Perfect Thing." Only about a chapter or two discussed the decisions that went into making the iPod the rest is really an analysis and description of the cultural impact of the iPod.
anybody who builds something for a living should read this. It's a must-read for my team.

No-one seems to say that Steve Jobs is easy to work for, but if you measure the man by the caliber of his products then he's not at the bottom of the list (this, from my exalted position!)
Niko Taylor
Jul 10, 2007 Niko Taylor is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I am really enjoying this book, which tells the story of the iPod, from its creation to its widespread impact on our lives. In particular, I'm fascinated by the creation process, about the ideas and technologies and personalities that brought this cool device into the world.
Apr 20, 2007 Warren rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
Incredibly fascinating history of the genesis, development, and marketing of the iPod. You might not agree with all of Levy's assertions about the importance of the ubiquitous MP3 player, but you have to give him credit to making its story cool.
"Steven brings his skills to the story and impact of the iPod. He gives credit to Jeff Robins, Tony Fadell, Paul Mercer and others who deserve it, so I especially like it. But his observations on coolness, design and usage are equally insightful."
Feb 22, 2009 Gavin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the cult of Apple
Interesting cultural commentary on the birth of the iPod. Easy to forget that the iPhone started with a little white box with a turn wheel! Not too heavy on the technical mumbo jumbo, it is a cultural snapshot from 2006.
Jul 19, 2007 Sylvia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any iPod owners
This book reveals all the mystery behind the phenomenal iPod. Quite an eye opener. However, the fun of reading this book is spoilt by the all too obvious Steven Levy's admiration to the Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs. Not smooth.
Nov 04, 2008 Lisa rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: apple fanatics
Shelves: nonfiction-geek
interesting glimpse into the inner workings of apple, with lots of fascinating insights into the design process... but primarily an extended fellation of steve jobs. steven levy has written better.
John Dittrich
An interesting read about the origins of the iPod. There are several different versions of this book with the chapters in different orders, an homage to the shuffle feature of the iPod.
I'd rate this 9/10.

One interesting thing: At least in theory, different copies (printings?) have the chapters in different orders....
George Coghill
From what I recall, this was a pretty detailed and informative/entertaining history of the development of the iPod.
More interesting than you'd think, though still a bit long and redundant with Isaacson's Life of Jobs. Glad I read it.
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Steven Levy (born 1951) is an American journalist who has written several books on computers, technology, cryptography, the Internet, cybersecurity, and privacy. Levy is chief technology writer and a senior editor for Newsweek, writing mainly in the "Science & Technology" section. He also writes the column "Random Access" in the monthly feature "Focus On Technology." Levy is also a contributor ...more
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