Understanding the iPod craze

Oct. 6, 2004, midnight | By Clair Briggs | 16 years, 8 months ago

Why they are the Apple of so many eyes

Three beautiful women entice rapper 50 Cent in the opening sequence of his music video "P.I.M.P," but he is oblivious to what would seem to be every man's fantasy; his attention is focused not on the woman's lacy white lingerie but instead on the sleek white iPod in his hand.

Along with 50 Cent, more than three million consumers own an iPod, according to MSNBC. The iPod is Apple's 5.6-ounce, pocket-sized digital music player, incorporating a tiny disk drive, enclosed in a shiny case. The disk drive allows its users to play digital files as songs.

Apple's portable digital music player may be small, but its impact isn't. iPods have popped up on music videos and on primetime television shows like O.C. and ER. Advertisements for them are everywhere; the walls of a metro station in Toronto, bus shelters in New York, buses in Taiwan and television.

iPods, which netted $67 million for Apple in July, are having such an impact that they are revolutionizing the music industry, changing how Blazers, along with the rest of the world, are listening to, buying, and distributing music.

Light, white and "tight"

The iPod is largely popular because of its advanced technology and the fact that it is so easy to use. A 20-gigabyte iPod can hold 5000 songs and an iPod mini, a smaller, and more colorful version, can hold 1000 songs. "Even those that aren't tech savy can use it in a matter of minutes," says Irwin Anolik, the manager of the Apple Store at Tysons Corner mall in Virgina. "That's the beauty of it."

Senior Andrew Curtis says the iPod's large song capacity is the reason he bought one. It allows him to access 2,000 songs without the hassle of carrying around a bunch of CDs.

Duke University found the technology to be so appealing that it gave out new iPods to all of its incoming freshmen this year. According to the Duke website, the students will use the iPods to download course-related content, record field interviews, and more.

Aside from the technology, iPods are attractive because of their look. Anolik says the iPod has the "old elegance Apple is known for" incorporated into its design.

Advertisers spell iPod "t-r-e-n-d-y"

The iPod may be popular, but it isn't cheap--a mini iPod is $249, and a 40-gigabyte iPod is $399. Anolik admits that iPods are much more expensive than CD players, but points out that the price of the iPod is getting cheaper. A five-gigabyte iPod used to cost $399, and now a 20-gigabyte iPod costs $299.

According to an informal Silver Chips survey of 100 students on Sept. 9, only nine percent of Blazers have iPods. Eight percent have MP3 players, while 77 percent have CD players.

MBHS junior Peter Lightfoot says that the iPod's price makes it a status symbol. "When people rock them, they are making a statement. It's like, if I can afford this and use this, that says something, " he says.

Downloading honest tunes

iPods were designed for more than just looking cool. Apple's iTunes is a virtual music store, which allows you to buy songs for less than a dollar apiece, and then store it onto your iPod. It is meant to make users gravitate toward legal downloading, instead of using illegal systems like Kazaa or Limewire, which let people download songs for free. About 70 percent of legal downloading is off iTunes, according to Anolik.

Computer Science teacher Dennis Heidler, however, doubts iPods will prevent piracy. According to Heidler, people need to become accustomed to paying for one song at a time and more songs should be available in the music libraries before any real impact in stopping piracy will take place.

Blazers like senior Lena Moreno and Curtis admit they download songs illegally and then put them into their iPods. Curtis says, "There's no copyright protection, and $1 a song is just too much."

Revolutionizing the music industry

While the iPod may not be combating piracy as much as Apple would like, it is playing a large part in revolutionizing how people listen to music, according to Anolik.

Moreno says she buys CDs, and then downloads the songs into her iPod. "I like having the lyrics and the CD case," she says.

Heidler believes that in order for CDs to stay competitive in the music-buying market, record companies are going to have to make some changes. "The CD is going to have to offer more than just music and pictures, because those can just be reproduced digitally [on a computer]," he says.

The iPod is also transforming the music industry by "eliminating the middle man," according to Anolik. Now, artists do not have to go through record companies when they want to introduce their music to the public. This makes it easier for independent artists, like computer graphics teacher Karen Collins, to get their music heard.  "My music is a mix of Cajun and country, so it's a specific type," says Collins. "Hopefully, iTunes will let me get my music out to people that listen to that type."

iTunes has done a good job getting music out; it sold over 70 million songs in its first year of business. Apple's success with the iPods resulted in the company taking more than 50 percent of the digital music market, according to the Cable News Network.

Apple's competition, companies like Sony, Samsung, Dell, IRiver, Rio and Creative Technologies, have not even come close. Creative Technologies is second to Apple with a meager 17 percent of the market share.
Anolik says Apple's dominance is because the iPod was efficiently designed for downloading and sharing songs. He says knockoffs like Microsoft's prospects for portable media players are a bad idea. "No one wants to watch videos on a tiny screen," he says.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs agrees. He commented in a conference marketing the one- year anniversary of the iTunes music store, "It's the music, stupid."

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Clair Briggs. Clair Briggs is a junior in the Blair Magnet. She's really excited to be a part of Silver Chips this year! In her free time, Clair likes to spend time with her friends and she likes to eat Chipotle. She loves country music, California, and … More »

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