GADGETS | Ahmad Humeid on the art and magic of the iPod’s myth creation
If you still think that it’s only a bunch of graphic designers and weirdoes who are in love with Apple, you obviously haven’t met an iPod owner. These people, many of whom are actually PC users are starting the feel the excitement that Apple infects its customers with. Superior design, simplicity and ease of use are the foundations of Apple’s brand on which the company has built its “Think Different” quasi-religion.
This week, Apple has taken another bold step in cementing the position of its iPod music player as the world’s leading digital music device, which, much to Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs liking, is being called the Walkman of the 21 century.
Standing on the stage of the California Theater in San Jose, Jobs wowed the audience last Tuesday with a string of announcements regarding Apple and its iPod-iTunes combination. Jobs unveiled a special edition of the iPod that Apple is co-branding with the Irish rock band U2, dubbed the iPod U2. Unlike the original iPod which comes in white and the iPod mini which comes in many different colors, the iPod U2 is jet black with a Ferrari red control dial. Very rock’n’roll, so to speak. The back of the new iPod even comes laser engraved with the autographs of the four U2 band members.
As part of its partnership with the band, Apple has worked with Universal Music to bring out the world’s first ‘digital box set’ featuring a staggering collection of U2’s music to be sold on the iTunes digital music store. ‘The Complete U2’ as the collection is called will contain 400 songs covering the whole of U2’s career, including all their albums in addition to a number of previously unreleased tracks. The collection would require a collection of 30 CDs in the physical world. On iTunes, a click on a button would download the collection for you. Jobs then quipped “Broadband required” drawing laughter and applause from the audience.
Looking pretty fit after his operation he underwent after he was diagnosed with a rare pancreas cancer, Jobs then asked “What would be even better that the iPod U2?.” And the answer came when Bono and the Edge took the stage, as the theatre erupted with applause.
It is moments like these that are part of Apple’s successful myth creation. And it’s that myth combined with technical innovation that enables Apple, a relatively small company compared to, say, Dell, to not only survive, but also thrive in today’s technology market. The iPod commands a 65% market share of all mp3 players sold (in the US presumably). When it comes to hard disk based players, and despite the best efforts of its many competitors, Apple claims a 92% market share for the iPod. Such a leading position, coupled with a claim of a 70% market share of all legally downloaded music, put Apple in an enviable position. Beyond the Mac, It has won itself a place in the hearts and minds of consumers, and it continues to innovate on the level of tools for media production professionals, with industry-leading packages for music and video editing, like FinalCut and Logic.
To add to the appeal of the iPod, Apple has also launched the iPod Photo, which features a color screen and the ability to store and display tens of thousands of your digital photos. The iPod photo connects to you TV via a cable and displays slideshows accompanied by music chosen from your library. Interestingly, Apple is not following the trend of including video capabilities in media players. Jobs took a stab at competitors like Microsoft and Creative, saying “they are digging in the wrong place”. Content licensing problems as well as small screen sizes make these small media players unsuitable for watching movies, Jobs contended.
Before performing a song from U2’s upcoming ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” album, Bono made a remark thanking Apple’s British born chief of industrial design. He said that the job of art is to chase ugliness away, and while there is ugliness in our streets and cars that he’d like to see changed he praised Apple for creating beautiful machines. “There’s a poetic side to their machines that we appreciate,” he said.
Read these related posts on 360east:
- Amman’s Apple ‘Store’.. or shall I say ‘center’ will open Sunday
- iPhone in the stores today
- Not really an Apple Store
- iPod goes classic. Nano gets video. Touch this one..
- Apple and VW planning an iCar?
Bookmark this post on your favorite bookmarking service