10 years on – how the iPod changed the world

The iPod truly ushered in the era of portable digital consumer electronics, much as the Walkman did for analog audio,” states Jordan Selburn, principal analyst of consumer electronics at IHS-iSuppli.

I don’t think anyone could argue against this assessment of the iPod.

A device that was not only small enough to fit in your pocket (just about), but was also equivalent to carrying your entire collection (or a good proportion of it) of tapes/CDs/minidisks with you, without the backache.

It was bound to change the world.

Big ideas behind the product:

Design – simple, streamlined, iconic. A work of art housing a library of art. What could be more beautiful?
Function – “The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player out there — before it came out I’d used models from Rio for my runs — but it took the shortcomings inherent in the existing products in the market and improved on them,” explains Jonathan Seff, executive editor, MacWorld.
Software – the success of iTunes has given the iPod a long life. Born in a turbulent environment of piracy, illegal downloads and a suffering music industry, it was in 2003 when iTunes Music Store was launched that the industry started to believe that Apple was going to save them all.

“The genius of the iPod was (and still is, with the iPhone) that, while the music industry actually believed that it had found a good (i.e., closed and controlled) way to extract money from otherwise freeloading consumers, the iTunes/iPod/iPhone ecosystem became the dominant hardware solution for the consumption of free music.” Futurist Gerd Leonhard, author of The Future of Content and co-author of The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution.

Accessories – this is a uniquely Apple thing. Apple consumers love the design, the kudos & the status of being in the Apple club so much that they don’t just buy the one product they want, they buy that product and subsequently tick off the accompanying products and accessories that support that product. It’s a superiority thing. Like only buying Smythson leather goods.
Halo Effect – similar to the above, the halo from the iPod shines a light on Apple’s other products. Where once Apple was the manufacturer of complex and expensive computers, it is now known worldwide by your average Joe non-techy consumer. It took a while, but Apple these days is thoroughly mainstream.

In short, what a transformation. Try and imagine the world without the iPod – what would it look like? Yes, I now listen to all my music on my HTC device, but would that work so beautifully had the iPod never come into being?

What will the next world changing product be? Will it be in the portable music device market or has this now been saturated with innovation?

Brands, keep thinking about the consumer. If a certain group isn’t your target audience, why not? Make them your audience! Engage them, give them something they want to know about.

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