THE SMARTPHONE by Elizabeth Woyke


Anatomy of an Industry
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An intricate dissection of the smartphone from technology reporter Woyke.

Even if you are not a smartphone user, the author’s comprehensive examination of the beguiling device is worth the effort. The author, a former Businessweek and Forbes staff writer, begins with the Motorola DynaTAC, which figures prominently in movies circa 1973 and looks as though someone is talking into a boot. Woyke then makes a quick jump from the cellphone to the smartphone, which runs on an open operating system and can host applications, with displays, browsers, email, cameras, and music and video players. All things considered, they are modern-day marvels, but Woyke maintains a serious, information-driven and no-nonsense tone in her writing. After a walk down Memory Lane—Simon, Palm Pilot, Handspring’s Treo 600 as the height of fashion—Woyke gets to the meat of the matter: “The smartphone wars are intense because the market is large and lucrative. Estimates of its size range between $250 billion and $350 billion, which is larger than the PC market and more than twice as large as the Internet advertising market, although both of those markets existed years before smartphones.” The author does a good job explaining the relationships among the makers, carriers and developers, and she delivers an engrossing chapter on design trends. Woyke also scrutinizes the working conditions of those employed to assemble smartphones, as well as the studies of health issues related to radiofrequency energy and the ever present problem surrounding privacy. The author presents an informed and intelligent “Smartphone Bill of Rights,” which includes such tenets as transparency, choice regarding software, keeping data collection to a minimum, squelching planned obsolescence and being fully apprised of the “makers’ policies toward laborers and the environment.”

A smartphone full monty that will appeal mostly to the device’s users—all 1.75 billion of them.

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59558-963-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2014


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