Nordic Track Book Club Review: The Perfect Thing

The Perfect Thing by Steven Levy covers the history of the iPod and discusses its impact on popular culture and enamored owners everywhere. I’ll have to confess that I’m one of those enamored iPod owners, even though my iPod is now going on 3 years old. So when I saw this book on a sales rack in front of Borders on Church Street in downtown Burlington for $5.99 I picked it up. An enjoyable read with a few new insights. 3 out of 5 stars.


p.19 Now [immediately after 9/11 occurred] I wondered. How could you devote your energies to documenting the Internet, cool gadgets, and the future of music when all this darkness was afoot? Interrupting those bleak questions came iPod…when I regained my confidence that technology is still the hallmark of our era.

p.24 "Obscure ain’t what it used to be…it’s getting harder to find any music at all that’s hard to find."

p.26 Simply handing over your iPod to a friend, your blind date, or the total stranger sitting next to you on the plane opens you up like a book.

p.54 On January 23, 2001, Jon Rubenstein called Anthony Michael Fadell, former developer on the General Magic handheld communicator. Fadell took the meetings. Of course, Ruby couldn’t tell him anything about the project, because of Apple’s near paranoia about keeping secrets. All Fadell knew was that Apple was offering him an eight-week contract to do something that it thought he was qualified to do.

p.67 Just because Pixo was providing software to work on top of the PortalPlayer chips didn’t mean that its employees were entitled to know the details about the iPod. The prototypes, which were never to leave the Apple campus, were phonied-up to hide the true nature of the design. The Plexiglass-based models were about a foot wide, controlled by huge buttons.

p.79 Vardi ultimately concluded that you cannot produce coolness on demand. The only thing a company can do is strive for perfection and hope that the gods smile on it.

p.91 While Steve Jobs has consistently presented the development of the iPod as a team effort, he has publicly singled out the company’s industrial design ninja as the guy responsible for the look and visual integration of the device. This is Jonathan Ive. The IPod represents the apex of the partnership between Ive and Jobs.

p.110 To some, the image of millions of people wandering around with this musical prosthesis has kicked up a sandstorm of criticism, often with a panicky edge.

p.160 "If you were to sell only 50,000 of these [songs] in the real world, you wouldn’t do it. Here you do it, because the formula changes completely. I don’t have to do a print run, decide how many CDs to press. I don’t have to worry about distribution and which stores I’m going to put them in."

p.225 Steve Jobs is not shy in claiming that Apple is the only company taking big risks and accomplishing some magic in the personal computer world. He thinks he knows why. "I think back to Detroit in the seventies, when cars were so bad," he says. "Why? The people running the companies then didn’t love cars. One of the things wrong with the PC industry today is that most of the people running the companies don’t love PCs. Does Steve Ballmer love PCs?"




Article written by

A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.