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The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,444 ratings  ·  154 reviews
We know the iPhone as the device that transformed our world, changing everything from how we talk to each other and do business, to how we exercise, travel, shop, and watch TV. But packed within its slim profile is the fascinating, untold story of scientific, technological, and business breakthroughs--global in scope, sometimes centuries in the making, and coming from ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 20th 2017 by Bantam Press
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,444 ratings  ·  154 reviews


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Elyse  Walters
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author Brian Merchant is an interesting guy --Did he just want a 'around-the-world' paid vacation? A business write-off at least? I have no idea....but he traveled to 'every continent'....( Shanghai - Bolivian Highlands, Africa, South America, etc), to trace the story of the iPhone [the techie folks call it the 'Jesus Phone'].
FASCINATING STATISTICS: ( makes me chuckle and my head swim)....
Brian took 8,000 photos, recorded 200 hours of interviews, tapped out hundreds of notes, and had dozens
...more
Wen
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
iPhone is arguably the most ubiquitous gadget in the world today. For me, an iPhone evangelists, this book was a treat. I strongly recommend it to other iPhone fans.
I was wowed by the breadth the author Brian Merchant covered around iPhone, from its components, key technological drivers, design history, manufacturing process, marketing strategy, all the way to the human costs.
Mr. Merchant gathered all the details through countless hours spent in perusing documents and reports, interviewing
...more
Mal Warwick
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Other Silicon Valley observers have written about the development of the iPhonebut it's unlikely that anyone else has delved as deeply into the subject as Brian Merchant . . . or will ever do so in the future, for that matter. Merchant's brilliant new book, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, tells the tale from the mining of the minerals from which the phone is crafted to the oppressive working conditions in Apple's Chinese manufacturing plants and the scavengers at Third World ...more
Tom Keenan
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Disappointing. I think there has to be several great stories related to the development of the iPhone. There are a few of them here. Admittedly there is a problem given Apple's penchant for secrecy many of the original participants wouldn't give interviews and several others have died. But Merchant's credibility was damaged, in my eyes, by several statements that were untrue and others that have been contested.

In addition, it seems that Merchant implies culpability on Apple's part for the
...more
Drtaxsacto
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short but very informative book on the development of the iPhone. Merchant went to great lengths to find those people willing to talk about how the first iPhone came to be. It involved a number of moving parts and an extraordinary level of luck to bring all the things together. Some of his exploits included going into the iPhone factory in China and mines where some of the precious metals are done. He seems to have been careful in finding a range of sources and I think for the most ...more
Fawaz Abdul rahman
The author put a huge effort on this book clearly, and I really liked it. history of many technologies, and the efforts and stories behind the iPhone. Something should keep in mind while reading this book, every element which used in iPhone also used in millions of other devices, and those markets and factories work on other devices too.
Some projects which mentioned in this book remind me of Google nowadays when they launch products and fail just because it isn't the right time. Google glass for
...more
Stuart Berman
The insider information the author shares is fascinating and I appreciate the lengths he went to to visit the various supply chain sources.

The fatal flaw in his work is that his obvious biases prevent him from being considered reliable. I am not saying he is lying but it is clear his narrative is that be sided and he lacks the discipline or experience of a serious journalist. He also confesses to knowing very little about business (referring analysis to MBA's) marring the book as highly
...more
Rod Mortazavi
Jul 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
~25% is about the history of the iPhone and its development. The rest is about mining, who invented touch screens in 1950, and other fairly esoteric trivia.

Its not a good book if you want to learn about the original iPhone creation process. If you don't know anything about technology and its news to you that rare earth minerals are mined in 3rd world countries, or that modern tech usually had some sort of basic forerunner, then I suppose this might be interesting to you.

edited: "if you want to
...more
Thomas
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read_2017
Fascinating story with tons of great detail and background. The history of what became the iPhone goes back much further than you expect. Despite Jobs' claim of Apple inventing multitouch, the story is deep and lengthy and worth reading. There's also a long journey connecting from Vennevar Bush's Memex through Kay's Dynabook to the iPhone. No, the iPhone is not the spiritual progeny of either of those visionary devices. It is something else entirely. But seeing the history of ideas and ...more
Vamsi Sridhar
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: assorted
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rhonda Sue
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're an Apple user, a techie, or curious about how we got the smart phone, this book will take you on a little journey. This book builds on other books written about Apple and Steve Jobs, and so many of these books show the ugly side of Jobs and how he ran Apple. One of the premises is that Jobs and Apple did not invent the smartphone-the technology and ideas have been around for a long time, and these products are built on existing technology and so many engineers, inventors,etc., have ...more
Pete
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
One Device (2017) by Brian Merchant is a history of the iPhone for the tenth anniversary of the device. It looks at how the phone was developed, parts of the global supply chain that produce the device and the impact it's had. Merchant has managed to write a book that is more than just a hagiography for Apple fans. 

One of the big problems for a book like this is actually talking to the people who were really involved in the creation of the device. Most companies like to keep things quiet and get
...more
Carl
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a fascinating story, well told.
Geoff Nelson
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Felt unnecessarily long. The bulk of the book felt like a general exploration into the sourcing and assembly of any modern electronic device. Real meat was in the last chapter where the process of actually designing the iPhone inside Apple was detailed. Author went to extensive lengths to reveal new information, but many involved remain tight lipped.
Christy
Broad strokes were great, details were only good

The chapter selections were excellent. More than once I was pleasantly surprised when the book included one of my favorite iPhone anecdotes or technical details (such as the FingerWorks acquisition or the heavy software influence NeXT had over iOS). However, I noticed that some (admittedly very technical) details were incorrect or explained in such a way that was contradictory or confusing. Also, at many junctures the author chose to explain some
...more
Daniel Gusev
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A near definitive account of a sweatshop underneath a pixie dust factory

We believe in magic. Unobtrusive, short, self explanatory, exhilarating and full of mystery, it titillates the senses and drives imagination. What was built as a imaginative drive of one person was instead a decade long sweatshop inquisitive creative process by those who believed in the art of the technologically impossible - and made that possible.
Pat Cummings
Will never look at my iPhone the same way. Great stories and tidbits of information about all aspects of the device from inception, design, product teams and manufacturing. Did you know the average employee in an Apple stores brings in over $400,000 in sales?
Jim
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
The story behind the iPhone makes for great reading for technophiles. Up there with "What the Dormouse Said" as my favorite computer and technology books.
Stephen
Love them or hate them, smartphones have revolutionized society like few other inventions. Entire sectors of the economy now exist which wouldnt be there had they had not been invented, and barring some kind of global collapse its unlikely their influence will fade anytime soon. The One Device: A Secret History of the iPhone reviews not just how a computer company decided to gamble on making what would become the best-selling consumer device ever, but investigates how the various technologies ...more
Omar
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: computer-history
there are two UIs that people use: the Xerox PARC UI and the iPhone UI. we hear a lot more about the development of the former than about the development of the latter, but the latter is probably more important!

this is a decent overview of what went into the iPhone. one of the best takeaways is how arbitrary / unplanned a lot of iconic product choices were. the App Store is a famous example, but even having it be a touchscreen, Internet device, etc were all contested choices, not inevitable. the
...more
Sebastian H
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Discoveries are made while standing on the shoulders of giants.

Steve Jobs invention of the iPhone is nothing more, nothing less than his pretending to fly while standing on the shoulders of a veritable platoon of invisible giants, inventors, entrepreneurs, historians and technologists. It feeds into the falsehood of the genius individual, when true paradigm-shifting creations are possible thanks to the confluence of multiple and disparate events that click together at the best possible moment,
...more
Ankit
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a great read into how various technologies evolved and were made to converge to become the iPhone, the material cost and human effort that went into the making of the iPhone, and various facets of mobile devices, from supply chain to marketing and distribution, and second hand markets and recycling.

A highly recommended read if you want to get a good view of what goes into the making of successful technology
Toby White
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technology
An excellent insight into the iPhone, how it began, the technology and people involved and the materials and manufacturing processes used and everything in between. Well worth a read if youre looking to understand how the one device came to be. ...more
Billy O’Keefe
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sorry, I say to Enrique. I was just talking with the inventor of the lithium battery.
What did he say? he asks, trying not to sound too interested.
He says hes invented a better battery, I say.
Does it use lithium?
No, I say. He says it will use sodium.
Shit.

If you look at your phone and just take it for granted at this point, I cannot recommend this enough as a means to put things into proper perspective. The One Device made some waves because of a single piece of disputed behind-the-scenes Apple
...more
Jury Razumau
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
By the way, Steve Jobs is massively overrated.
Rick Wilson
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastically fun read. In depth enough that I feel like I learned something. Used plain enough language that I never felt lost. Seemed to attempt to henestly portray the negative side effects of iPhone production without being preachy. Overall, this is what I look for in tech journalism.
Tony Taylor
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book! This book starts with the embryonic development of the iPhone telling the story right on up to 2017, warts and all. Whether you are an Apple (or iPhone) aficionado, an IT specialist, or just someone with a curious mind, this is truly an interesting and educational book that covers everything that not only goes into the making of an iPhone (rare minerals, batteries, scratch proof glass, etc.), but the people and teams behind this totally in-house secret project that did not even ...more
Vikrant
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I picked the book up, I thought I already knew the story of the rise of the smartphone.

Now I know 500 pages more!
Stefan Svartling
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very interesting read. The history and the facts about the iPhone since before the beginning was very interesting to read about. It needs a book 2 though, about what has happened since after this book was written.
Alwin Tong
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Uncovers the invention story and the human footprint of the iPhone. Spoiler: Steve Jobs did not invent it and only worked on the phone much later.

It covers largely the team who did work on it day-to-day.

Loved the book.
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