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The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles…

The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness (2006)

by Steven Levy

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Very informative and engaging history of the iPod. ( )
  mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |
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. ( )
  cjazzlee | Nov 13, 2015 |
I read this as my first iPod was in transit from China to my house. (I had to wait from early morning until 5:30 for FedEx to arrive with it; it seems to me in this age of cell phones, texting, Internet, GPS, and computers, it should be possible to have a better handle on arrival times. But I digress.)
It was a good introduction to he history of MP3 players in general, Apple Computers and iPods from someone who had access to the major developers as they were creating things. He made me worry about the contents of my iPod and what they say about me before the thing even arrived. He found the simplicity of the object marvelous; I had trouble getting it unwrapped or figuring out what to do with it because of the minimal instructions. A few pictures of the various incarnations would have been nice. I appreciated his realization that his book could mimic the functionality of the iPod by having the publisher "shuffle" the chapters. Nifty! ( )
  raizel | Jul 2, 2010 |
Steven Levy’s new book on the iPod is not necessarily just for fanboys only – though it is glowing in it’s portrayal of iPods. The DRM in iTunes is dismissed as an inconvenience and not given much weight. He has written it so that each chapter can be read out of sequence as though in shuffle mode.

Neat things in the chapters:

PERFECT has an amusing description of Bill Gates seeing an iPod for the first time.

IDENTITY discusses the intimate nature of exchanging iPods with someone – you may be revealing more than you wish.

ORIGIN discusses the people who were building digital music players and stores before Apple but couldn’t do what Apple has done.

In COOL he talks with Jonathan Ive the designer responsible for the iPod’s look.

In PERSONAL he discusses amateur inventor Andreas Pavel – inventor of the first portable music player in 1972 and the social issues that have concerned people regarding personal music players.

DOWNLOAD has some interesting insights into the politics of getting labels on board with iTunes.

APPLE on the impact of Steve Jobs and the turnaround at the company. At the time he rejoined Michael Dell [Dell computers] said “I’d shut [Apple] down,” he said,”and give the money back to the shareholders.”On Jan 13, 2006 Apple’s market capitaliztion became greater than Dell’s.

PODCAST finds the roots in CB radio.

It’s a quick read. It talks about what Apple does right. Does not really get into the wrong. It is enjoyable especially the bits I mentioned above. ( )
  yaffa | Nov 8, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743285220, Hardcover)

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 device's distinctive white buds into their ears, and the iPod has become a global obsession. "The Perfect Thing" is the definitive account, from design and marketing to startling impact, of Apple's iPod, the signature device of our young century.

Besides being one of the most successful consumer products in decades, the iPod has changed our behavior and even our society. It has transformed Apple from a computer company into a consumer electronics giant. It has remolded the music business, altering not only the means of distribution but even the ways in which people enjoy and think about music. Its ubiquity and its universally acknowledged coolness have made it a symbol for the digital age itself, with commentators remarking on "the iPod generation." Now the iPod is beginning to transform the broadcast industry, too, as podcasting becomes a way to access radio and television programming. Meanwhile millions of Podheads obsess about their gizmo, reveling in the personal soundtrack it offers them, basking in the social cachet it lends them, even wondering whether the device itself has its own musical preferences.

Steven Levy, the chief technology correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine and a longtime Apple watcher, is the ideal writer to tell the iPod's tale. He has had access to all the key players in the iPod story, including Steve Jobs, Apple's charismatic cofounder and CEO, whom Levy has known for over twenty years. Detailing for the first time the complete story of the creation of the iPod, Levy explains why Apple succeeded brilliantly with its version of the MP3 player when other companies didn't get it right, and how Jobs was able to convince the bosses at the big record labels to license their music for Apple's groundbreaking iTunes Store. (We even learn why the iPod is white.) Besides his inside view of Apple, Levy draws on his experiences covering Napster and attending Supreme Court arguments on copyright (as well as his own travels on the iPod's click wheel) to address all of the fascinating issues -- technical, legal, social, and musical -- that the iPod raises.

Borrowing one of the definitive qualities of the iPod itself, "The Perfect Thing" shuffles the book format. Each chapter of this book was written to stand on its own, a deeply researched, wittily observed take on a different aspect of the iPod. The sequence of the chapters in the book has been shuffled in different copies, with only the opening and concluding sections excepted. "Shuffle" is a hallmark of the digital age -- and "The Perfect Thing," via sharp, insightful reporting, is the perfect guide to the deceptively diminutive gadget embodying our era.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:33 -0400)

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"The Perfect Thing is the definitive account, from design and marketing to starting impact, of Apple's iPod, the signature device of our young century."--BOOK JACKET.

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