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Tom’s Weekly Rant: How The iPod and iTunes Changed The World

Apple-logoApple are without doubt one of the most ingenious companies ever to grace the Earth. The iPod, launched back in 2001 is a tribute to this, and the ever changing technological environment. 10 years later, Apple sit atop of the tree of evolution, and are only seemingly getting higher.

Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs and others, Apple Inc has climbed to the top of not just the technology tree, but also the profit tree; being the most profitable company in the world.

Whilst others would argue that they gathered a mass audience from the Apple 1 onwards, I’d disagree. It is without doubt that the iPod is the single most influential factor in the corporations path to success. As of 2010, over 297,000,000 iPods have been sold and to put that into perspective, that would mean the everyone in the United Kingdom would own 4 each!

But the question has to be asked; why is it so successful? The iPod came about in a period of time where CD’s were still popular and HDDs weren’t cheap for the sizes they came in. Apple however saw the future of storage, and realised it just wasn’t sustainable to only use CD’s as a form of mobile storage for music, thus giving rise to the tiny little white oblong with headphones. The iPod was the only device on the market that gave users the ability to store far more songs than a conventional disc, and it was portable.

Now you might be thinking, why hasn’t he mentioned iTunes? I’m about to. It’s all good and well to have hardware that looks nice, and revolutionises the way we do something, but without a GUI, it’s hard to get anywhere (Ever tried using a Zune on a Mac?). iTunes was launched in 2003, as a way for users to download music legally from a only music store. Which when you think about it, is fantastic. You have the option to download music legally, straight onto your hardware, and be listening to the song in under 5 minutes. It’s always a common belief that Apple are always 10 years or so ahead of everyone in the grand scheme of things. The introduction of the iTunes store was the first step in the move to not only online shopping, but also Cloud Computing. Jump back to 2011, and you will soon be able to stream directly from the iCloud to any iDevice, an idea first kick-started through the notion of downloading.

But what are the repercussions on the physical market? In 1991, the US had over 9,500 independent record outlets, yet by 2006, a mere 2,000 remained. Clearly not just a coincidence. However, whilst this may seem a staggering statistic, it was inevitable. Why spend quadruple (if not more) on a CD, when you only want one song? This was where iTunes saw a gap in the market, and milked it until the cows came home.

Okay, so we have a cheaper option to get music, but why not make it free? The introduction of downloading music online of course gave chase to downloading it illegally. Why spend $1 on a song, when you can download it for free, some would say. As of November 2009, the average American teenager had over 800 illegally downloaded songs on their iDevice, a massive +56% jump from 2004. The likes of Napster originally launched before iTunes became evidently more popular, being superseded by Pirate Bay and Limewire, with the ability to share MP3 files, quickly, easily and with massive breach of copyright.

Clearly, the introduction of iTunes and the iPod have had seemingly dire effects on the physical market, on the violation of copyright, and on the overall world in which we live in. But let’s not steer to far away from the benefits and the successes that the small oblong and program have brought into our lives. Without it, you’d still be going down to HMV to buy CD’s. You would be carrying around a CD player. And you most certainly wouldn’t be looking as cool as Apple would like you to.

Check out this to see what I mean: iPod 1st Generation Commerical

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1 Comment

  1. Austin French Austin French
    May 17, 2012    

    The iPod was not the first MP3 player, it was the first massively successful MP3 player…

    And iTunes was a big part of the reason the iStuff took off. The integration. It didn’t matter how clunky and unstable it was, there was no competition!

    Then various PMPs came out that could do more (Videos, FM radio, pictures) until the iPod touch came out and basically killed all the competition… which is too bad because I holding onto my Zune until the HD2 came out, and never did!

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