Apple iPod turns 5: How did a little gadget have such a big impact?

“It’s hard to overstate the impact of the iPod on the computer, consumer electronics and music industries since it was introduced in 2001. The iPod, arguably, is the first ‘crossover’ product from a computer company that genuinely caught on with music and video buffs. It’s shown how a computer can be an integral part of a home entertainment system,” Tom Krazit reports for CNET News.

“So how did a little gadget have such a big impact? The combination of the hardware and the iTunes software and music store gave people an easy way to obtain digital music. It assured the music industry that legal music downloading could work, and gave rise to a seemingly endless parade of iPod accessories and add-ons. Now Apple is expanding into video, with popular television shows and movies available through iTunes for watching on a computer or a video iPod,” Krazit reports.

‘It’s so intricately tied to an ease-of-use model for acquiring and accessing content, but also being able to play it and distribute it among other devices,’ said Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies,” Krazit reports.

“Can any company loosen Apple’s hold on digital music now? Never say never, according to analysts, but any potential iPod killer has an uphill climb. Apple, which some estimate has a 70 percent share of the U.S. digital music player market, has been able to design strong products while also coming up with savvy marketing, quality control and ample distribution, said Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research,” Krazit reports.

Krazit reports, “To date, no other company has been able to come up with a competing model. The few players from other manufacturers like SanDisk, Creative, Sony and others competing for the rest of the music player pie have to depend on software from Microsoft or Real Networks to manage their music collections, and none of those combinations has proven as popular as the iTunes-iPod juggernaut. Sony and Microsoft are two companies that have the resources and connections to match Apple’s efforts, but they haven’t put out products that have resonated with consumers.”

Krazit reports, “Whatever Apple chooses to do, and whatever challenges it faces, the company has created, rather remarkably, its second iconic product.”

More in the full article here.

“With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.”Apple CEO Steve Jobs, October 23, 2001


  1. lol. Everybody thinks it’s so complicated. But it’s not.

    The basic reason is that Soundjam/iTunes was the slickest farking little music manager on a computer since God invented bread. Still is, even with all the commercial bloat.

  2. Peterson, you are so wrong. They tried that, remember? It didn’t work.

    Then they realized it would be smart to open it up to Windows users also because 1) it would expose them to the Apple brand and 2) get them into their retail stores in person while making a LOT more money at the same time.

    Where do you come up with this stuff?

  3. “So, once again, the genius is not so much so.”

    Yeah, they only own 75+% of the market afterall. But I’m sure you’re such a genius that you could have done much better right?

  4. I beg to differ with you Mr. Peterson. It is never a temptation if it is not put in front of you. Now that people see the reason why we choose Apple products…. Well you know the rest! The wannabes who are blind to their own shortcomings want everyone else to be blind also.

  5. The saddest part for the M$ fanboys is that the iPod has become so incredibly popular and mainstream that it’s starting to impact computer sales in a big way as well. All you have to do is look at both Dell and Apple this morning and you’ll see that Apple is worth over $14 Billion more than Dell.

  6. Peterson

    As everyone else has said, your business savvy is severely lacking. If iPod/iTunes was Mac only, Windows users (the majority of computer users) would never know about Apple. It would be another weird little product from that weird little company with a bunch of weird users saying how great their product is.

    Instead, Windows users get into iPod/iTunes, realize that Apple makes good products (so unlike the garbage they’re used to) and provide a good user experience. Then they start thinking about getting a Mac and when they do…they’re finished with Windows (I actually know a couple of people who have followed that exact scenario).

    But, I guess you’re right, Jobs is no genius, he’s only got 70+% of the market for digital audio players and Mac sales have never been better. Maybe he should hire you and get you leading Apple, I’m sure you would steer the ship in the opposite direction and really get things done!

  7. Here’s the deal, going all the way back to SoundJam:

    Prior to OS X (that would be OS 8.5 through OS 9) and with SoundJam .. you could drop a SoundJam PLAYLIST, and nothing more than a playlist onto an FTP client and it would instantly send copies of the actual files to their designated destination. Now THAT was real tricked-out file management at the time. To the best of my knowledge, that can’t be done in OS X .. you instead have to go get the actual music files and/or create copies of those files in order to move them off the computer. You can’t just drag and drop playlists around on the computer in most instances.

    But with iPods? That degree of ease in file transfer was diligently preserved. It was a way cool functionality before iPods came to exist and it’s just as cool in it’s current incarnation as the now famous iPod/iTunes symbiosis.

  8. “The saddest part for the M$ fanboys is that the iPod has become so incredibly popular and mainstream that it’s starting to impact computer sales in a big way as well. All you have to do is look at both Dell and Apple this morning and you’ll see that Apple is worth over $14 Billion more than Dell.”

    However, MS is at $282 Billion.

  9. gwm — i know it is not quite the same, but you can select all the songs in a playlist and drag them out of iTunes (say to the desktop, or somewhere else) and it will create copies of those songs. I do this all the time when i am backing up stuff, or sending some stuff to a file server.

    The major way the iPod changed how i listen to music is that i was able to take the time to discover music. You can just dump an album on to the iPod and forget about it until you have some time to kill and then give it a listen. With CD players you have to remember to lug the CD around with you.

    In a similar vein, i often play my iPod on shuffle. A song often comes on that i don’t know. If i like it i will go back and check which album it is off, and then, on the basis of that good song, spend some time learning the rest of the record. I wouldn’t be able to do this with a CD player.

  10. In years past – why has no one in the popular media worked so hard to find a Microsoft Windows replacement? Luckily, today they are starting to really ask that – especially after Apples earnings report.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.