How Apple iPod took over the world

“Like thousands of others, I got an iPod nano for Christmas. It’s a gorgeous object,” Simon Caulkin writes for The Observer. “This tiny object does a lot more than play music: as part of a larger system with iTunes and the iTunes music store, it defines a new relationship between customer and producer and reshapes an industry. One day all products and services will be like this.”

“The first unexpected thing the iPod has done is make estranged customers like me music buyers again,” Caulkin writes. “What’s more, it’s possible to buy on impulse: hearing something on a film soundtrack or radio show, you no longer have to go to HMV or Amazon (or more likely just forget about it), you download it straight away – instant gratification… No thanks to the record industry, but I’m enjoying being a customer again because it’s on my own terms.”

“And that’s the second thing about the iPod: it puts you, not them, in control. Basically, the record labels are devotees of the Henry Ford business model: ‘You can have any music you want so long as it’s what I want to give you.’ But using the cyberspace jukebox, you’re no longer at their mercy. You don’t have to pay for the four filler tracks on every album. You don’t have to buy albums at all,” Caulkin writes. “The iPod is certainly not perfect. Incompatibility with other formats means that at one level it perpetrates its own version of Henry Fordism: ‘You can have anything you like so long as it’s Apple.’ This is the more irritating because the music store’s coverage is by no means universal.”

MacDailyNews Note: iTunes can rip music into many formats (AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, MP3, WAV) from CDs. Accordingly, you can have anything you like on your iPod, except from sources that stupidly exclude well-heeled Mac users (Apple’s iTunes works on both Macs and Windows) and have tied themselves to Microsoft’s dubiously-named and failing “PlaysForSure” scheme using Microsoft’s proprietary DRM.

Caulkin continues, “A large part of the iPod’s appeal is how easy it is to use – put another way, the fact that nothing gets between you and what you want from it. This leads to the third, most important and least obvious of the iPod’s trumps: the power of ‘pull’. Most companies distribute their product by ‘push’. They estimate demand, build according to the estimate and then sell (‘push’) what they have built… When, as with iTunes, the product is ‘pulled’ by the customer, on the other hand, the engines required for ‘push’ are redundant. It’s like using gravity instead of fighting against it. Pull inherently uses fewer resources; tells managers directly what consumers want; and above all delivers on customers’ own terms.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
The de facto standard for legal digital online music files: Apple’s protected MPEG-4 Audio (.m4p) – December 15, 2004


  1. When you get a new iPod that has a hard drive inside. Be sure Erase with the Zero option in Disk Utility first, then update the iPod Updater to the latest version, then update the iPod with it.

    Sure it sounds like a hassle, but just go ahead and wait several hours downloading a 60GB iPod full over slow USB 2 just to find out your data is corrupted on the drive due to bad sectors.

    Then when you try to reset the iPod it just hangs at the Apple logo.

    Then sending the thing off to Apple and having them send it back saying there is nothing wrong.

    Trust me, Zero all new hard drives right away, screw how long it takes.

  2. They didn’t take over shet, all they did was sell 30million ipods, big deal, thats not even 10% of U.S. population., and it was all thanks to hype, everyone on tv and radio was like ‘ omg i want an ipod for christmas “

    buzz happens. hype happens. just like shet happens.

    look at Sirius, once upon a time everyone was like ” o my god sirius is awesome”

    now, noone even talks about it.

    their stock lost 50% in the past 6 months and it is going to lose another 80% within 1 year.

    Apple’s stock is owned by so many, no matter how much hype there is, its never going to send the stock soaring again, only direction Apple headed is down town.

    Like it or not, Apple’s shares will close below $50 this year.

    I predicted Sirius stock would go under $5 “soon” just 8 months ago, and it did.

    So here’s my predictions for Mid August 2006:

    Apple: $46 ( neutral price )
    Google: 260 ( still not a buy, it deserves to be under $100 )
    Sony: $34 ( neutral price )
    Amazon : $22 ( good buy at this price )

    All other stocks will fall also. Nothing is safe, not small caps, not big caps.

    Even’s stock ( ANSW ) will lose 60% of its value, altho its market cap is only $100mil.

  3. “Apple: $46 ( neutral price )
    Google: 260 ( still not a buy, it deserves to be under $100 )
    Sony: $34 ( neutral price )
    Amazon : $22 ( good buy at this price )”

    Napster: $75 (creating a “destination portal” for music? Nobody’s thought of that since 1998!)

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />

  4. Rock on Cubert!

    “I wish everybody would have to have an electric thing implanted in our heads that gave us a shock whenever we did something to disobey the president. Then somehow I get myself elected president.”

    – Jack Handey

  5. Get it right, it’s “Idiot Amercian” not “Stupid Americans”, you just look like a ass you are.

    “American Idiot”

    Don’t want to be an American idiot.
    Don’t want a nation under the new media
    And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
    The subliminal mind fuck America.

    Welcome to a new kind of tension.
    All across the alien nation.
    Where everything isn’t meant to be okay.
    Television dreams of tomorrow.
    We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow.
    For that’s enough to argue.

    Well maybe I’m the faggot America.
    I’m not a part of a redneck agenda.
    Now everybody do the propaganda.
    And sing along to the age of paranoia.

    Welcome to a new kind of tension.
    All across the alien nation.
    Where everything isn’t meant to be okay.
    Television dreams of tomorrow.
    We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow.
    For that’s enough to argue.

    Don’t want to be an American idiot.
    One nation controlled by the media.
    Information age of hysteria.
    It’s calling out to idiot America.

    Welcome to a new kind of tension.
    All across the alien nation.
    Where everything isn’t meant to be okay.
    Television dreams of tomorrow.
    We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow.
    For that’s enough to argue.

    -Green Day-

  6. Don’t bother with a Nano unless your cheap or run/excersise with it.

    It’s a waste of money otherwise because your music/video library is going to grow really fast so just spend the money for the big iPod.

    By the way “Stupid American” is a jerk.

  7. I’ve gotta disagree, Sound Advice – I’ve got a 60gb iPod and a nano, and it’s the nano that never leaves my side – choice rated music, podcasts, and audiobooks are the daily fare.

  8. Static–

    It’s very frustrating when those who seem less educated have such obvious success. After all, what might that mean about the rest of us? I think it’s important that we not look at our own deficiencies; let’s just point at them and call them names. It’s obviously them.

    Not us. Clearly, not us.

  9. Lord Robin:

    Quote” I thought the Observer and the Register never did anything but spit venom at Apple….”

    Hmm try yesterday’s Guardian for that ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    If what theyare saying is true – and from personal observation in my local Apple dealer it probably is – Apple really needs to get its quality control together or do a redesign.,,1783814,00.html

  10. I’m over 50 and like the “American Idiot” song.

    I know even though I’m a American

    1: That I’m not a “idiot”

    2: Not a faggot.

    3: Not a redneck

    4: Not controled by the media

    5: Not paraniod.

    6: Not hysterical.

    7: Not a alien.

    That and the excellent music, is what makes the song so good.

    It’s like a roast. I can handle it, can you? faggot american?

  11. What’s w/ all the American bashing???

    There are morons in every country, and some countries w/ a much higher percentage than America, just look at France! LOL!

    Green Day = overhyped crap band that won’t be remembered 5 years from now created by the media frenzy they themselves refer to in their lyrics…

    It makes them kind of hypocrites as they are making money from this media machine… read another way: sold-out to Hollywood!

    Sounds like the guy w/ the name Stupid Americans doesn’t even have up-to-date data… Apple’s sold more than 30M iPods….

    If you’re going to post messages claiming to have real insight, at least get your facts straight first!

  12. What’s with all that pushing and pulling in the article as if the author was some sort of management guru stating obvious inconsequentials. His brain is trying to tell that him he needs some pushing-and-pulling relief but he doesn’t get the hint.

    MW: serious

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