iPodus Ubiquitous

by Jason Deraleau

Related link: http://www.apple.com/ipod/

This past weekend I took a trip down to New York City for some culture and a "http://www.franzferdinand.co.uk">concert. While down there, it really dawned on me just how popular the iPod is. I mean, Apple releases figures on how it has the most popular digital player on the market, but I didn't realize how many people are actually buying them up. I suppose I'm still stuck in a mentality where these devices are toys of the tech elite.

Walking around Manhattan, I couldn't go a block without seeing at least one pair of white buds plugged into someone's ears. Waiting in line for the F train, I counted 10 'Podders right there on the platform, each making subtle adjustments to their tunes as time went on. It truly seems like the iPod is lining up to be the Walkman of the new millennium. Not just because it's the most popular digital music player, but because it's becoming the most popular music player around.

Forget portable CD players, that's so passé today. No, everyone wants an iPod. Even around my office, co-workers are all talking about buying their kids minis for Christmas. Their kids! Heck, I was lucky to have a $25 tape player when I was a kid. I wouldn't even dream of having a $250 device to enjoy on the middle school bus. (Well, sure, they didn't have iPods back then, but I digress).

Popularity Brings Jealousy

Though apparently, the 'Podders are all thieves. At least, that's what Microsoft's CEO recently said at a London Press Conference. I mean, let's first stop this stigmatism that all MP3s are stolen. I have 6,000-plus MP3s in iTunes with binders full of CDs to prove that theory wrong. I didn't save the purchase receipts or anything, so maybe they mean I stole my music from friends and family? Somehow though, I don't think Microsoft is jealous of my music collection; I think they're jealous of the iPod's popularity.

And maybe a little -- just a little -- jealous of the fact that Microsoft isn't going to have as easy a time capitalizing on the music market. I guess having an operating system with a world market share upwards of 95%, a boss who is the richest man in the world, and even a popular gaming system isn't enough for Steve. No, not Jobs. Not Woz, either. I'm talking about the other Steve. The one with the sweat problem and, well, I don't even know how to best describe this. At least Gates comes on stage with some dignity.

Not that I'm a Microsoft hater or anything. I mean, they make some decent peripherals. But, I bet we'd all have a hard time finding a single part of our lives that hasn't in some way been touched by the software giant. They're even invading consumer electronics now. Hasn't history taught us that world domination is a bad thing? How long before I can go to the grocery store and buy Microsoft toothpaste? Maybe kiddie shampoo bottles with Ballmer head caps?

Back to iPods... Sort of

Anyway, I was talking about iPods. They're everywhere. And, they definitely aren't all full of illegal content. There is a lot of purchasing going on over at the iTunes Music Store and I imagine people aren't doing that just for ha-has. And since Apple has the most popular online music store AND the most popular music player... well, that's bound to create a lot of cranky competitors.

Sony is striking back (err... something like that) with their new "http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/eCS/Store/en/-/USD/SY_DisplayProductInformation-Start;sid=2l_MzT3y9PfMgnyTtifGxnLjB8N-vI7RAh0=?ProductSKU=NWHD1KIT&Dept=pa&CategoryName=pa_DigitalMusicPlayers_Network">Network Walkman, which, beyond a better battery life, is inferior to the iPod in just about every way. It uses ATRAC for its file format, so, at least we don't have to worry about Microsoft CEOs spreading FUD about that player. But then, Apple doesn't have to worry about people buying Network Walkmans, either, since few will want to get locked into another failing Sony medium. (Didn't they learn anything from Betamax and MiniDisc?)

And other online music stores? Well, the iTunes Music Store has been successfully fending off their attacks. Easy to see why. What with that whole more features thing going on. I mean, I don't see the Real or Microsoft stores (at all! I have a Mac.) offering artist playlists, mix-sharing features, or much exclusive content. My new iTunes favorite is the Apple/Audible release of US Government information. For example, the recent Presidential Debate. Best of all, it and other, similar political offerings (e.g. RNC and DNC speeches, 9/11 Commission Records) are available free of charge or on the cheap.

No, I think the iTunes store's biggest challenge will be proving that it's Beatle-proof (Nothing is Beatle proof!). And the iPod? I don't see much in the way of competition at the moment. I'm hardly clairvoyant, but Apple has quite the lead and doesn't show any signs of slowing down. If anything, they are now parlaying the iPod's success onto the iMac for a one-two punch combo.

As Tom Petty would say, "It's good to be king, if just for a while." Hopefully, it'll be Apple's turn to hold the crown for a long, long while to come.

Okay, who doesn't have an iPod yet? Why the heck not?


2004-10-04 23:41:31
bad monopoly vs good monopoly
you say a (claimed by their opponents) Microsoft monopoly is a bad thing, but why is an Apple monopoly a good thing?
2004-10-05 02:08:36
bad monopoly vs good monopoly
Being a monopoly isn't a crime. Abusing that position is, particularly using it to leverage monopolies in other fields (e.g. OS -> Office apps -> web browsers, gaming consoles, handhelds, phones, search, Java-like languages, video + audio formats, music stores etc.)

Even a Republican DOJ found Microsoft to be a monopoly, and an abusive one at that, so you're way, *way* outfield in claiming that Microsoft isn't one, or that only their competitors think so.