Always on: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--And Locked Us in (Hardcover)

How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--And Locked Us in

By Brian X. Chen

Da Capo Press, 9780306819605, 248pp.

Publication Date: June 7, 2011



Even Steve Jobs didn't know what he had on his hands when he announced the original iPhone as a combination of a mere "three revolutionary products"--an iPod, a cell phone, and a keyboard-less handheld computer. Once Apple introduced the App Store and opened it up to outside developers, however, the iPhone became capable of serving a rapidly growing number of functions--now more than 200,000 and counting.

But the iPhone has implications far beyond the phone or gadget market. In fact, it's opening the way to what Brian Chen calls the "always-on" future, where we are all constantly connected to a global Internet via flexible, incredibly capable gadgets that allow us to do anything, anytime, from anywhere. This has far-reaching implications--both positive and negative--throughout all areas of our lives, opening the door for incredible personal and societal advances while potentially sacrificing both privacy and creative freedom in the process.

Always On is the first book to look at the surprising and expansive significance of Apple's incredibly powerful vertical business model, and the future it portends.

About the Author

Former associate editor for Macworld magazine, Brian X. Chen currently writes for, where his regular column on Apple is followed by millions of readers. He lives in San Francisco.

Praise For Always on: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--And Locked Us in

Kirkus Reviews, 5/1/11
“A swift, engaging analysis of how the iPhone is changing the way technology is integrating contemporary society…A relevant, refreshingly charismatic nod to personal technology, its innovators and, of course, everything Apple.”

Publishers Weekly, 5/9/11
“Tech guru Chen's columns on Apple for have gained him a wide readership, primarily for the same qualities he displays here: an in-depth knowledge of the history of Apple and a wide-angle view of the impact that Apple has made across the globe.” New York Journal of Books Review, 6/29/11
“[Always On] is a page-turner for technophiles, but weaves enough humanity into the topic to keep most readers engaged.”

Shelf Awareness, 7/8/11
“A compelling analysis of how the iPhone has revolutionized every aspect of our lives.”

Connecticut News, 7/3/11Always On gives us a sharp and funny journalist/guide who shows us how the Apple phone (and the iPad that followed) and its easily used apps are reaching into nearly aspect of modern life.” Colorado Springs Independent, 7/27/11 “If you’re like more than 70 million others, you’re probably reading these words via smartphone…[Always On] tells you how it got to be that way.”
 January Magazine, 8/5/11“[A] very smart and eloquent book…Chen is succinct, lucid and often fun…If you love your iPhone and think it’s the greatest invention since sliced cheese, Always On is for you. If you loathe the very idea of the iPhone and think it’s going to ruin the world, Always On is for you, too. Chen’s book is simply that marvelous: even-handed, engaging and informative, it looks at all sides of a tricky but interesting questions and makes a few assumptions that will surprise you.” Seattle Times, 8/14/11 “A smart, engaging overview of studies, articles and arguments about our increasingly online world—and a look at how corporations got us here and how much further we could go.”


Midwest Book Review, September 2011
“Business and social issues collections alike will find this an important survey.”


Choice, December 2011 “Chen has a lively and engaging writing style…Recommended.”


Coverage from NPR