NY Times book review: ‘The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness’

“Steven Levy, the author of ‘The Perfect Thing,’ is madly in love. So what if the object of his affections is inanimate and very, very petite? It makes great company and is fun to fondle. It makes him feel good and bolsters his self-confidence. And size is no problem: the more it shrinks, the more ‘adorable’ it becomes,” Janet Maslin writes for The New York Times.

Maslin writes, “His position as chief technology correspondent for Newsweek ought to underscore his authority on this subject. But he is overly fond of emphasizing his backstage access to Steve Jobs, and of locutions like ‘I once found myself in a heated discussion with Bill Gates about…’ At least he can claim to have been the first person to hand Mr. Gates a Microsoft-unfriendly iPod and asked ‘Have you seen this yet?’ As Mr. Gates absorbed every detail about the rival product, Mr. Levy says, ‘I could almost hear the giant sucking sound.'”

Maslin writes, “‘The Perfect Thing’ raises one big question: is it possible to spin a whole book out of such literally lightweight subject matter? Answer: yes, if you don’t mind repetition and don’t expect to learn anything new. ‘The Perfect Thing’ is more entertaining than informative, but it makes a very satisfactory mash note. Gushing aside (‘this is its universally celebrated, endlessly pleasing, devilishly functional, drop-dead gorgeous design’), it does a handy job of crystallizing and commemorating the dawn of the iPod age.”

Full book review here.

Related articles:
AP: Apple’s new iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle ‘clearly worth the wait’ – October 19, 2006
Apple announces iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition, iTunes (PRODUCT) RED gift card – October 13, 2006
Apple iPod games reviewed – October 06, 2006
Mossberg: Apple’s new iPod+iTunes are ‘better products at better prices’ – October 04, 2006
The Washington Post: ‘New competitors can’t measure up to Apple’s iPod’ – September 30, 2006
Computerworld review: ‘Apple’s new iPods are better than ever’ – September 27, 2006
Review: Pac-Man for iPod – September 27, 2006
PC Magazine’s 19th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards for MP3 players: Apple iPod line – September 25, 2006
Thurrott reviews Apple’s iTunes 7: ‘the best software-based media jukebox I’ve ever used’ – September 22, 2006
USA Today reviews new Apple iPod nanos, updated iPods, iTunes 7 (each earns 4 stars out of 4) – September 21, 2006
CNET Editor’s Choice: Apple fifth-gen updated iPod – ‘best, most attractive iPod to date’ – September 20, 2006
Disney sells 125,000 movie downloads via Apple’s iTunes Store in first week – September 19, 2006
PC Magazine review: iTunes 7 ‘Apple’s best effort yet’ (4 stars out of 5) – September 15, 2006
CNET Editor’s Pick: Apple’s new 2G iPod nano – ‘sure to be top choice among wide range of users’ – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV model ‘the gold standard for the digital home of the future’ – September 12, 2006
What’s new in Apple’s iTunes 7 – September 12, 2006
Analyst Gartenberg: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV ‘will be hard for other players to match’ – September 12, 2006
Apple debuts iTunes 7 – September 12, 2006
Apple debuts new iPod in 30GB and 80GB with Hollywood movies, games and new lower price – September 12, 2006
Apple intros new iPod nano with new aluminum design in five colors and 24-hour battery life – September 12, 2006
Apple unveils new iPod shuffle: world’s smallest digital music player – September 12, 2006


  1. Gossip bitches like him make it hard for personalites to ever be candid with the media. A man with more than a billion rarely if ever will show jealousy, and certainly not a cool player like Gates, Balmer on the other hand has 4 fingers

  2. “Gossip bitches like him make it hard for personalites to ever be candid with the media.”

    You should know that there is no such thing as an “off the record” statement to a member of the media. Everything is on the record.

  3. “A man with a billion rarely if ever will show jealousy”?

    That statement must be derived from zerO’s extensive experience hanging with billionaires. I, for one, don’t have the slightest idea whether billionaires show jealousy more or less than the rest of us (though I suspect they’re just about the same).

  4. From the article:
    This iPod success story also virtually screens out a pivotal factor in its earth-shaking influence: the actual earth-shaking of 9/11. The iPod was unveiled in October 2001, and the world was eager for distraction.

    My, what a fine example of utter bull$#!+. The iPod was introduced in 10/01, yes, but it hardly took off like a rocket. The iPod didn’t explode in popularity until nearly a year later, when the iTMS was opened for Windows.

  5. Neither Fox, nor the NYT, nor CNN, nor Newsweek have done any real journalism for decades. The entire mainstream media companies offer nothing but censored, filtered, homogenized, “Entertainment Tonite”-style press releases that please their advertisers. The closest thing to real journalism today is the uncensored and gritty stuff you find on video sharing sites and blogs, since they don’t have any editors to please nor advertisers to suck up to…

    Yet. That will sureley change in the near future.

    I just think it’s funny to hear people argue over which is truer journalism, CNN or Fox…it’s like arguing Entertainment Tonite vs. Access Hollywood.

  6. Mainstream news sources are most definitely sucking up to their sponsors bigtime. With increasing frequency, factual reporting is replaced by propaganda disguised as news. The result is a populace that lacks the factual information necessary to make informed decisions about issues affecting their own lives, which makes a mockery of “democracy” and puts the U.S. firmly on the road to fascism—control from the top. It really makes no difference whether people are controlled by decree or deception. The result is the same: people do what the gov’t wants them to do.

    At the same time, journalistic standards continue to plummet in every corner of the news-gathering universe. Factual reporting gives way to ill-informed “hit” pieces aimed at sponsors’ competitors. I wish there was a way to expose the companies that employ all these gutless hacks. Reader beware!

  7. e CHOICE iSHONK for Dual-level Shonkyness

    Goes to the…

    APPLE iPod
    (CHOICE Computer, Sep/Oct 2005, and CHOICE, July 2006)
    An iPod is a significant investment, so you don’t want your APPLE to be a lemon. And if there is something wrong with it, you’d expect an easy repair and warranty service. Podluck.

    Level 1. Several readers complained about cracked screens, faulty batteries and problems with sound reproduction.

    Level 2. APPLE doesn’t allow retailers to handle complaints under warranty (which is their obligation under Fair Trading laws) — you have to send your faulty iPod to APPLE yourself via Australia Post. And if they decide the fault isn’t covered by the warranty, you’ll have to foot the entire bill.


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