Lecturer Dr. Michael Bull is “the world’s leading — perhaps only — expert on the social impact of personal stereo devices,” according to The New York Times. Wired News’ Leander Kahney has conducted a Q&A with Dr. Bull, also known informally as “Professor iPod.”
The iPod mini will be popular. Sales will expand as the market expands. It’s a repeat of what happened with the Walkman 25 years ago. Apple is out front of a massively expanding market. Their machines are brilliant in every respect…. At the moment, they can’t lose, but Apple will eventually lose its dominant market share. The competition will be too intense.
One of the interesting things is that with vinyl, the aesthetic was in the cover of the record. You had the sleeve, the artwork, the liner notes. With the rise of digital, the aesthetic has left the object — the record sleeve — and now the aesthetic is in the artifact: the iPod, not the music. The aesthetic has moved from the disc to what you play it on … and the iPod mini will appeal to those who want an artifact for style….
The other thing is that there’s a lot of illegal downloading. Half the people I’ve talked to so far download music illegally. The investment they’re making is going into the artifact, not the music. The market is moving toward the artifact, not the music to fill it.
(Bull noted that a lot of users reported they stored a few “perennial favorites” on their iPod but generally were constantly shuffling new music in and out, which may explain why they’re reluctant to pay for something they don’t “keep.”)
Full Q&A article here.