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

Steven Levy, Author . Simon & Schuster $25 (284p) ISBN 978-0-7432-8522-3

For the iPod's fifth anniversary, Newsweek technology writer and longtime Apple Computer enthusiast Levy (Insanely Great ) offers a brightly written paean to "the most familiar, and certainly the most desirable, new object of the twenty-first century." Combining upbeat reportage about the device's origins and development with higher-minded ruminations about its place at "the center of just about every controversy in the digital age," he explores how the iPod "set the technology world, the business world, and especially the music industry on its head." Levy discusses its place in the "movement of portable cocooning" begun by the Sony Walkman, exploring how the ubiquitous white buds are affecting social connections. The book's in-no-particular-sequence chapters—intended to evoke the iPod's shuffle function—don't build much momentum, and there's more about Apple CEO Steve Jobs and his leaps over design and technical hurdles than the average user may need to know. But Levy's zeal and insider anecdotes ("I once found myself in a heated discussion with Bill Gates about the nature of cool") carry things along. Apple fans and iPod owners will enjoy Levy's exploration—and will probably forgive his gushing about the iPod's "universally celebrated, endlessly pleasing, devilishly functional, drop-dead gorgeous design." (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/04/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7435-6125-9
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