Wired calls iPod the 21st-century Walkman; says iPod revolutionizing consumer electronics

“For Keiji Kimura, the problem is small enough to fit in his pocket and just heavy enough to weigh on his mind. Kimura is a senior VP at Sony headquarters in Tokyo, and the problem in question is Apple’s iPod, the snappy little music player that’s revolutionizing consumer electronics the way Sony’s Walkman did some 20 years ago. By rights, Sony should own the portable player business… But the 21st-century Walkman doesn’t bother with tapes or CDs or minidiscs; it stores hundreds of hours of music on its own hard drive. And it sports an Apple logo.”

“‘It’s a good product,’ Kimura says of the iPod. ‘It’s exciting. I am positive the hard disk is a key device that will change our lifestyle.'”

“[Sony President Kunitake Ando] wants nothing less than for Sony to reinvent itself. But that will never happen as long as the company is frozen by its fear of piracy… it’s conflicted: Sony’s entertainment side needs to let customers move files around effortlessly, but its entertainment side wants to build in restraints… Where the iPod simply lets you sync its contents with the music collection on your personal computer, [Sony] Walkman users are hamstrung by laborious ‘check-in, check-out’ procedures designed to block illicit file-sharing. And a Walkman with a hard drive? Not likely, since Sony’s copy-protection mechanisms don’t allow music to be transferred from one hard drive to another – not an issue with the iPod. ‘We do not have any plans for such a product,’ says Kimura, the smile fading. ‘But, we are studying it.'”

“…Apple is delivering the innovation while Sony studies the matter,” writes Frank Rose in his upcoming article “The Civil War Inside Sony,” in Wired Magazine’s February 2003 issue (not yet online).


  1. Only 108,000 Apple users and only 108,000 Windows users bought an iPod last quarter. That’s it? Not even a blip on the radar. Tens of millions of portable music devices were sold last quarter worldwide – common sense it all it takes.

  2. That’s 216,000 portable music devices with an average cost of US $400. A typical personal stereo device (discman, MP3 player) sells in the under $100, and more often under $50 range. All this in a downward-facing economy. Do the math. Dismal failure? I think not.

  3. 216,000 iPods in 13 weeks is 16,615 per week. According to UpgradeSource.com, 11/24/02, Nomad Zen was selling at a rate of 1644/week. That’ll work out to 21,372 for the quarter.

    Nuff Said?

  4. Nomad sold 175,000 HDD based MP3 players last year. There are NOT “, millions and millions” of these things sold. Perhaps 600,000 to 700,000 total units will end up as the 2002 total, with just over 1 million projected for 2003. (Source: http://www.idema.org/public/calendar/industry_market_ress.html)

    In other words, the iPod essentially OWNS this market space.

    If you want to compare non-HDD players wiht these numbers, go ahead, but it would say nothing about the iPod’s success… which is utterly mindboggling.

    What a homerun for Apple!

  5. Whatever you think of iPod sales, the facts are that in a market flooded with $50 – $100 MP3 players; the iPod, at an average of $400 per unit garnered 26% of total MP3 player sales. Let’s see: 615,000 * $100 (ignoring impact of lower priced MP3s) = $61,500,000. 216,000 iPods * $400 (average selling price) = $86,400,000. Yep, sure looks like a loser to me.

  6. I knew i wanted an ipod. But now i couldnt live without my ipod. It is so much more than i thought it would be. The great interface, speed and massive storage does something special. It liberates your cd collection. I have 400 cds … 250 of which are now on my ipod with more to come … i have rediscovered so much music that i had forgotten about … it is such a joy.

    As more and more people discover this watch sales continue to grow. In Japan ipod has 42% market share. This is staggering given that ipod is a foreign and premium priced product in a fiercly competitive market.

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