With iPod’s fifth birthday around the corner (October 23rd), Steve Jobs discusses the MP3 player’s design, cool factor and impact with Newsweek’s Steven Levy:

During the iPod’s development process did you get a sense of how big it would become?
Jobs: The way you can tell that you’re onto something interesting is if everybody who knows about the project wants one themselves, if they can’t wait to go out and open up their own wallets to buy one. That was clearly the case with the iPod. Everybody on the team wanted one.

Other companies had already tried to make a hard disk drive music player. Why did Apple get it right?
Jobs: We had the hardware expertise, the industrial design expertise and the software expertise, including iTunes. One of the biggest insights we have was that we decided not to try to manage your music library on the iPod, but to manage it in iTunes. Other companies tried to do everything on the device itself and made it so complicated that it was useless.

Now people at some labels think that iTunes, with its dominant market share has too much power.
Jobs: We’ve never once gone to them and asked them to lower their prices.

Do you think that it’s fair to the customer that the songs they buy from Apple will only work on iTunes and the iPod?
Jobs: Well, they knew that all along.

Microsoft has announced its new iPod competitor, Zune. It says that this device is all about building communities. Are you worried?
Jobs: In a word, no. I’ve seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s got up and left! You’re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you’re connected with about two feet of headphone cable.

In the full article, Jobs talks about the the design lesson of the iPod, iPod popularity and coolness, how he got the record labels to sign up, and more here.

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Why Microsoft’s Zune won’t kill Apple’s iPod – October 03, 2006
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Analyst: Zune could lead to ‘civil war’ between Microsoft and Windows Media partners – September 29, 2006
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Analyst: Microsoft Zune’s as good as dead on arrival – September 28, 2006
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Microsoft’s Zune insanity – September 21, 2006
The Microsoft Zune 1.0 dud – September 20, 2006
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Microsoft confirms brick-like Zune to be made by Toshiba – August 25, 2006
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