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The Race for Perfect: Inside the Quest to Design the Ultimate Portable Computer Hardcover – September 24, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0071606103 ISBN-10: 0071606106 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (September 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071606106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071606103
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,456,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The Pursuit of Perfection
That Drives an Entire Industry

Nowhere is the drive to create better products and powerful branding more intense than in the tech industry. Over the past four decades, entrepreneurs and designers have been driven to produce ever-better portables—whether they’re laptops, handhelds, or the latest smartphone. BusinessWeek senior writer Steve Hamm traces this journey in The Race for Perfect, revealing how waves of inspiration and struggle at companies from IBM and Apple to Compaq and Palm have produced a succession of soaring successes and embarrassing flops. Woven throughout this tale is a richly detailed narrative following a single laptop, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X300, from conception to the marketplace. the creators of thinkPad X300 dreamed of perfection. They fell a bit short. But the quest goes on.

“This is a really remarkable book! Covering past, present, and-most excitingly-the future of mobiles, it brings back extremely vivid memories to me and puts in context the many challenges and great opportunities still out there.”
-John Ellenby, CEO, GeoVector, and creator of the GRiD Compass, the first laptop computer

“If you have a couple of mobile devices in your pocket and wonder why there isn't a perfect single device, this book is for you.”
-Robert Scoble, author of the Scobleizer blog and former chief blogger for Microsoft

About the Author

I'm a communications strategist and writer for IBM, where I have worked since 2009. At IBM, I co-authored the company's centennial book, Making the World Work Better. I write a mix of essays, white papers and blog postings for the Smarter Planet blog (asmarterplanet.com) Previously, I was a journalist for 30 years, the last 12 at BusinessWeek, where I wrote about innovation, globalization, and leadership. Before that, I worked for PC Week, The San Jose Mercury News, The New Haven Register, and other newspapers. I published two other books, Bangalore Tiger, about the rise of the Indian tech industry, and The Race for Perfect, about innovation in mobile computing. I grew up in a coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania.

More About the Author

I'm a communications strategist and writer for IBM, where I have worked since 2009. At IBM, I co-authored the company's centennial book, Making the World Work Better. I write a mix of essays, white papers and blog postings for the Smarter Planet blog (http://asmarterplanet.com) Previously, I was a journalist for 30 years, the last 12 at BusinessWeek, where I wrote about innovation, globalization, and leadership. Before that, I worked for PC Week, The San Jose Mercury News, The New Haven Register, and other newspapers. I published two other books, Bangalore Tiger, about the rise of the Indian tech industry, and The Race for Perfect, about innovation in mobile computing. I grew up in a coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Hill on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Steve Hamm's new book The Race for Perfect is finally released. Having led the design effort for the X300 I was thrilled to see it in market. The book builds and expands on the cover story BusinessWeek Magazine article that Steve co-authored about the design and development of the Lenovo ThinkPad X300. I finally managed to carve out enough time to read my advance copy of the book. Unfortunately it's been hard for me to squeeze in reading something other than e-mails lately. The book did not disappoint me, it's both entertaining and an accurate portrayal of the Kodachi story. It also goes beyond the X300 story to include a detailed history of portable computing. Yes, there was life before ThinkPad.

Of course I instantly scanned the index looking for Kodachi references and possible embarrassing David Hill quotes. After all, I did interviews on a monthly basis with Steve for well over a year and a half. Who knows what I might have told him in the heat of passion that ended up in print. I am pleased to report that Steve did a great job protecting me from myself, and more importantly telling a great story. I may have a bit of "cultural backwater" explaining to do the next time I head back to my hometown Bartlesville, Oklahoma, but the portrayal is certainly not without substance. Sorry but you will have to read the book to totally understand this reference. For the "backwater" record, Bartlesville is the home of the Price Tower, the only true skyscraper ever designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but I must admit that cultural milestone was a very long time ago in Bartlesville history.

In my opinion Steve has written a great book. It's a very informative chronicle of portable computing and the rich technology and design history that accompanies it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Book buyer on April 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
i wanted to like this book. It's the kind of thing I typically enjoy reading. But I can't give it a good review. First and foremost it wanders all over the lace with no coherence at all. The author mentions various devices i companies in parts of the book then drops them only to mention them later totally out of context. It's really annoying. It reads like a collection of loosely connected magazine articles. The other major flaw is how much the author focuses on hardware to the detriment of operating systems and application software. You can't have one without the other and its key to understanding a company and it's products. Finally I don't think the author understands at all why some of the companies he writes about are successful and others are not other that at a very superficial level. I really feel like i wasted my money.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Bletsas on December 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Steve's book is a good review of the evolution of the mobile computing landscape. I have been fortunate enough to have met many of the people in the book and I am currently using a Kodachi laptop on a daily basis.
Having started with Thinkpads with the 701C and having stuck almost exclusively with them ever since, I can definitely say that this book puts some "soul" on these laptops and provides a very good explanation as to why I still keep many of them around me. Well done...

Michail Bletsas
VP, Advanced Technology and Connectivity
One Laptop per Child
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Format: Hardcover
It's probably no exaggeration that you take for granted your laptop, desktop, mobile phone, or smartphone. And you may think that Apple has always led as a designer of exceptional electronics. While Apple is certainly a leader in design, it isn't the only computer company that seriously uses design to bring consumers leading edge electronics. In The Race for Perfect: Inside the Quest to Design the Ultimate Portable Computer, author Steve Hamm provides you with an intimate account of the development of the Lenovo X300. Interspersed with the story of the X300, Hamm revisits the early days of portable computing, moves through the development of several products and brands, and ends with the rise of the smartphone. After reading this book, you should have a new appreciation for your computing devices.

Contents:
Introduction
Chapter 1: The Quest
Chapter 2: Dynabook and the Legacy of Xerox PARC
Chapter 3: Compaq versus Apple
Chapter 4: Thinkpad
Chapter 5: Yang's Dream
Chapter 6: Kodachi
Chapter 7: The Dream
Chapter 8: Hype, FUD, and E-Marketing
Chapter 9: Very Small Computers
Chapter 10: The Convergence Converges
Chapter 11: The Future of Portable Computing
Index
Acknowledgements
About the Author

Steve Hamm, a senior writer with BusinessWeek, was granted unprecedented access to the Lenovo X300 (code name: Kodachi) development team from concept to manufacturing. Starting with a vision of a handful of individuals, engineering new technology to include in the "perfect" notebook, and the use of bloggers to drive interest, the X300 comes to life and becomes one of the most successful product introductions of the Thinkpad line.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on May 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Hamm wanders all over the world and the history of laptops, managing to aggravate and confuse readers. He starts with the Tandy 100, then wanders through Xerox PARC, Compaq, IBM, etc. Readers looking for a useful clue should look elsewhere.

"Useless clues," on the other hand abound - eg. IBM's strategy around ThinkPad was to "innovate like mad." "Engineers and designers had to learn to judge when a brilliant concept they ad would actually be doable, and how much effort it would take to make it work."

To make matters worse, it is difficult to convince myself that the Leveno X300 Thinkpad is a product worth trying to study. Hamm himself cites a recent survey of CIOs that concluded that new capabilities (eg. notebook thinness) have become the last item on large corporations' IT priority list - they jsut want them to work and be cheap. The Leveno X300 Thinkpad is quite expensive compared to other offerings. Further, the few comilations of user reviews I have found were not very laudatory.
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