Stories by Steven Levy

  • Amazon: Reinventing the Book

    Amazon's Jeff Bezos already built a better bookstore. Now he believes he can improve upon one of humankind's most divine creations: the book itself.
  • Google's Cell-Phone Plan

    Not gPhone. It's Android! How Google plans to remake the cell phone market.
  • Google Goes Globe-Trotting

    To train a new generation of leaders, the search giant sends young brainiacs on a worldwide mission.
  • The Search For A Candidate

    McCain's people say that every dollar they spend on online search advertising brings in three or four bucks.
  • How Much Is Music Worth?

    Is 99 cents a song the magic number? No way. When a music service tested cutting prices in half, sales went up sixfold.
  • Honey, iBricked the New Mobile Phone!

    It wasn't like Apple didn't warn them. The small but proud number of owners who had "unlocked" their iPhones to work with networks other than AT&T knew that the warranty forbade such hacking. If that weren't enough, Apple sent out a message a couple of weeks ago that couldn't have been more explicit. "Many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet … will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed." Nonetheless, when the ax really fell—Apple released new iPhone software on Sept. 27—those whose updated phones were suddenly "bricked" (rendered no more useful than a ceramic block) were not the only ones who suffered. Apple, that perpetual engine of joyful and radical high-tech disruption, suddenly found itself on the wrong end of a revolution.True, the numbers of people who altered their phones are minuscule compared with the 1 million users who've bought iPhones...
  • Hard Driving

    Digital storage is vital. But Seagate's CEO says we don't respect it—and the country needs to keep it.
  • Give One, Get One

    The $100 (well, $200) laptop is ready to change the world, if people will buy it for the kids who need it.
  • A Chip That’s Worth A Wait

    Its flagship product was delayed, and its fight with Intel continues. But for AMD's leader, it's all good.
  • How Apple’s iPhone Ate The New iPods

    Fall means football, back to school, presidential politics … and new iPods. Once again Apple CEO Steve Jobs gets a chance to trounce his hapless competitors in the digital-media area by unveiling better stuff at lower prices, just in time to make sure the Apple Store will be packed with holiday buyers. "We run scared," Jobs says. "We reinvent ourselves frequently because we have to stay ahead, and because we want to make cool stuff." So, last Wednesday Jobs donned his costume of black mock turtleneck and jeans—like Olivier dabbing on the greasepaint—and unveiled to a San Francisco crowd of media and employees a bunch of cool stuff. But this time Jobs lost control of his story.In June, as you can't help but know, the iPhone became Apple's most-hyped product ever, so much so that the company's fate became intertwined with the groundbreaking device. Jobs began his presentation last week by revealing that Apple would soon sell iPhone ringtones for 99 cents. This was supposed to be an...
  • Securing (Or Not) Your Right To Vote

    Next year we’ll have the second presidential election since the horribly botched one in 2000. Can we expect better? An answer comes from the highest election official in the most populated state in the Union. Worried about a string of reported vulnerabilities, Debra Bowen, California’s secretary of State, had asked computer scientists at the University of California to conduct a “top to bottom” analysis of the thousands of touchscreen electronic voting machines in use in the Golden State. Next year millions of voters will use these systems, manufactured by the industry’s largest suppliers, not only in California but in many other states as well.What did the study reveal? “Things were worse than I thought,” says Bowen. “There were far too many ways that people with ill intentions could compromise the voting systems without detection.” Some of those security holes could, in theory, allow a dirty trickster with access to a single machine to infiltrate the central vote-counting system...
  • Levy: Can Apple’s New iPods Deliver?

    Steve Jobs explains the new iPod lineup, the competitive pressures facing Apple and the potential for angry customers over the iPhone price cut.
  • A Chip That's Worth a Wait

    Its flagship product was delayed, and its fight with Intel continues. But for AMD's leader, it's all good.
  • Facebook Grows Up: Can It Stay Relevant?

    At 19, Mark Zuckerberg came up with a new way for college kids to connect—and started an online revolution. Now 23, he's trying to build out his business without losing its cool.
  • Social Networking And Class Warfare

    For young people, the burning question of our time is "Facebook or MySpace?"Though there's considerable overlap between the two big social-networking services, only one usually becomes the center of a teen's online social life. Most often the choice is made depending on where your friends are. But what determines whether clusters of friends alight on MySpace or Facebook? A controversial answer comes from Berkeley researcher Danah Boyd: it's a matter of social class.A few weeks ago, Boyd—who has done extensive ethnographic work on online behavior, posted an essay sharing her (admittedly nonscientific) findings after months of interviews, field observations and profile analysis. Generally, she contended, "The goody-two-shoes, jocks, athletes and other 'good' kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college." MySpace is still home for "kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they...
  • Levy: Facebook or MySpace? It's a Matter of Class

    For young people, the burning question of our time is "Facebook or MySpace?" It's the contemporary equivalent to a previous generation's "Paul or John?" or "Betty or Veronica?"Though there's considerable overlap between the two big social-networking services, only one usually becomes the center of a teen's online social life. Most often the choice is made depending on where your friends are. But what determines whether clusters of friends alight on MySpace or Facebook? A controversial answer comes from Danah Boyd a researcher at the Berkeley school of information: it's a matter of social class.A few weeks ago, Boyd—who has done extensive ethnographic work on online behavior, blog-posted an essay tentatively sharing her (admittedly nonscientific) findings after months of interviews, field observations and profile analysis. Generally, she contended, "The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes and other 'good' kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who...
  • Levy: Politics and Hip-Hop Are Doing a Mash-Up

    Here's your chance, said Rep. Mike Doyle, a Democrat whose district includes Pittsburgh. "You always hear about big powerful interests coming to Washington and writing legislation behind the scenes. How would you design a bill?" The question was directed to the congressman's lunch companion—Gregg Gillis, who under the nom de laptop Girl Talk creates digital hip-hop tunes that mash up hundreds of songs. Gillis, 25, has been gaining fame for his feverishly inventive creations. But while his last CD made the best-of-year list in Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, he can't sell it on iTunes and lives in fear of a ruinous copyright lawsuit by a label representing one of the dozens of performers he's sampled without permission.I had brought the two together (at a local hot-dog joint called the Franktuary) because Mike Doyle had taken the audacious step of wondering if his constituent, instead of being dismissed as a Pittsburgh pirate, should be recognized as an artist—and that Congress should...
  • Levy: Politics and Hip-Hop Are Doing a Mash-Up

    Here's your chance, said Rep. Mike Doyle, a Democrat whose district includes Pittsburgh. "You always hear about big powerful interests coming to Washington and writing legislation behind the scenes. How would you design a bill?" The question was directed to the congressman's lunch companion—Gregg Gillis, who under the nom de laptop Girl Talk creates digital hip-hop tunes that mash up hundreds of songs. Gillis, 25, has been gaining fame for his feverishly inventive creations. But while his last CD made the best-of-year list in Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, he can't sell it on iTunes and lives in fear of a ruinous copyright lawsuit by a label representing one of the dozens of performers he's sampled without permission.I had brought the two together (at a local hot-dog joint called the Franktuary) because Mike Doyle had taken the audacious step of wondering if his constituent, instead of being dismissed as a Pittsburgh pirate, should be recognized as an artist—and that Congress should...
  • Major League Baseball's Digital Fortunes

    The digital business of Major League Baseball started out as a mess. Now it has $400 million in revenue and may revolutionize the economics of the sport.
  • True or False: U.S.'s Broadband Penetration Is Lower Than Even Estonia's

    Maybe our proud nation is going through some rough spots, but at least we have one shining and perpetual triumph: the Internet. People may refer to it as the World Wide Web, but its capital is Silicon Valley and the United States is the big dog tapping the global keyboard. At least that's what we thought, until the news broke in April of a report by the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that ranked the high-speed broadband adoption of 30 countries in the developed world. The United States was not first. Or second, or third. It ranked 15th.This was a continuation of a trend: only a few months ago the OECD ranked America 12th. Even more mortifying, when ranked against all countries on broadband penetration (percentage of homes connected), the United States came in 24th—behind such powers as Iceland, Finland and, yes, Estonia. In terms of the raw number of connected homes, we still hold a lead at 60 million broadband subscriptions, but China, with 56...
  • Internet: Bloggers Say No

    Interviews have been an exercise in unequal power between the writer and the subject.
  • Levy: How Blogs Are Changing Modern Journalism

    When Wired magazine writer Fred Vogelstein set out to write a story about a Silicon Valley blogger, Mike Arrington, he figured he would do what virtually every professional journalist does—interview key people, either face to face or by telephone. It's the acid-tested methodology of reporters everywhere. But in this case, simply by making the request that newspaper and magazine scribes make thousands of times a day, Vogelstein found himself in the middle of a controversy that's challenging the utility, the accuracy and the very morality of the real-time interview.Here is what happened to Vogelstein when he sought his interviews. First, blog entrepreneur Jason Calacanis told him he would not speak to him, but answer questions only by e-mail, something Vogelstein wouldn't agree to. Then, blogging pioneer Dave Winer told him he would not be interviewed by phone. He suggested that Vogelstein e-mail questions that he would then answer publicly on his blog, a solution for which Vogelstein...
  • Levy: Is MySpace Losing Its Audience?

    I had some bad news for Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, the founders of MySpace who now run the business for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. They'd lost my son's high school. A year ago, he and nearly all his fellow students were fanatical MySpace cadets. But now, like bees abandoning a hive, they'd left and swarmed to Facebook.I'd anticipated that sharing this admittedly anecdotal item over lunch with the sharp co-founders of one of the world's most successful Internet sites would lead to an intense grilling as to why this sudden exodus occurred. (My son thinks MySpace has too many ads and the pages are ugly. He also doesn't like the spam from alleged "friends" selling ringtones and other stuff, a problem that MySpace is trying to address.) But DeWolfe and Anderson, who sold to News Corp. last year for $580 million, didn't ask. Instead, they cited statistics that showed that their numbers were strong and opined that the exodus might have been a geographical anomaly. Anyway, Anderson...