How the iPod Changed Everything | Music Industry Blog
Apple has just announced the definitive stop of the production of the iPod. At 21, he survived many of the dramatic changes he witnessed and unleashed. In this era dominated by streaming (and a resurgence of vinyl), the iPod didn’t really have a place anymore, except with its dwindling super fan base. It probably should have gone out of production a long time ago, but the iPod holds a special place in Apple’s heart and sentimentality probably played a part in allowing it to reach its 21st birthday before he is finally put out to pasture. And there’s no doubt that the iPod earned this special place because it was the catalyst for the change that transformed Apple into the mega-corporation it is today. But the iPod did more than that, it was the pioneer that created the environment in which today’s world of digital entertainment could exist.
In my early days as an analyst, I went to my very first Apple analyst briefing, for the launch of the second generation. I felt like a fish out of water, with the room full of dry tech analysts asking Apple about its education strategy, its server products, its corporate IT strategy. Then the little me in the corner asked about the iPod, and the whole room turned to me with puzzled faces, just like the pub scene in American Werewolf in London.
With each successive briefing I attended, the iPod became a bigger and bigger deal and the other analysts in the room started asking about it as well. The iPod rode at a brisk pace until the launch of the iTunes Music Store, when it suddenly had a purpose it had previously lacked, and sales took off. Apple has never looked back.
It’s no coincidence that music propelled the iPod to technological immortality. Steve Jobs was a huge fan of music and it was his passion that allowed the iPod to continue to receive the support it needed, even when it was not yet showing signs of realizing its enormous potential. Apple has always been a company as obsessed with content as it is with hardware and that’s why the iPod and subsequent Apple devices have played a pivotal role in the growth of digital entertainment.
As the iPod evolved from scroll wheel to touchscreen, it became the launch pad for something even bigger for Apple: the iPhone (the first-generation iPhone was a direct evolution of the iPod touch, at a time when smart phones were all keys). With the iPhone came apps. Just as the iPod wasn’t the first digital music player, Apple wasn’t the first to create mobile apps or, of course, the first to create a smartphone. But in all three cases, Apple took a promising but challenging format and primed it for prime time. This early tracking strategy underpinned Apple’s success in the 2000s and early 2010s.
Pandora was an early beneficiary of Apple’s app strategy, being installed natively on US iPhones. The result was another takeoff, with Pandora soon becoming the most used streaming app on the planet, even though it was only available in the United States. Just as with the iTiunes/iPod combination, Apple has understood the importance of an integrated content/device experience and its App Store has become the launch pad for today’s digital entertainment economy. It did this by enabling app developers around the world to find a global audience that doesn’t have to worry about clunky installs and piecemeal billing. Everything happened in one place, seamlessly and effortlessly. Google soon followed with its own version of the App Store. Now you’ll be hard pressed to find a provider of games, music, video, news, podcasts, or books that doesn’t use the Apple App Store, or even a consumer that doesn’t. of apps for consumer content.
Apple’s subsequent launch of the iPad and Apple TV further accelerated the adoption of digital content, giving audiences and content companies more choice as to where they could benefit from the content economy. apps. Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Books, Podcasts, News, Arcade and more followed, helping to cement Apple not only as a catalyst for the digital entertainment economy, but also as a major content player. fully fledged.
None of this would have happened without the iPod. So while many readers will be too young to own an iPod, spare a thought for this now-defunct member of the digital ecosystem, because without it the devices you use and the entertainment you consume would be very, very different.