Thursday, July 28, 2005

I think thatz why iPod !!!!

Few things make their way into our lives…

You hear about it somewhere, you read about it & before you realize you will be a part of the whole thing. Internet and mobile phones are best examples. I’m talking about something like that but may not so far reaching as internet & mobile revolution…

Imagine that you have an idea of a revolutionary product. You realize that having only ideas is not sufficient, but you should also have resources to realize that idea. You approach few reputed companies with the idea of building the product. Those companies play it safe and reject the idea. Finally you get one company which accepts your idea and decide to take the bet on the idea.

As they say, what follows next is history!!

You see that the product you visualized has become an icon and captured the imagination of millions. (Still capturing is going on strongly).

To cut long story short, the product I’m talking about is iPod, the portable digital audio music player designed and marketed by Apple. A sleek looking audio player with a simple user interface and which can store thousands of songs.

An estimate said Apple has sold over 15 million iPods till June 2005, including 5.3 million in the 1st quarter of that year. iPod currently dominates the digital audio player market, frequently topping best-seller lists. In its fourth quarter results of 2003, Apple reported earnings of $106 million its highest revenue for Q4 in 9 years. Thanks to iPod !

But how did it all happen?

As I told you in the beginning it was because of one man’s idea & one company’s bet.

Tony Fadell was an independent contractor & hardware designer who has this idea to ‘make an MP3 player, build a Napster music sale service to complement it, and build a company around it’. He approached RealNetworks & Phillips with his idea. Both turned him down. Finally it was Apple who at that time was also struggling and who saw the business in Tony’s idea.

Apple hired Tony Fadell and assigned him a team of about 30 people including designers, programmers and hardware engineers. While Fadell may have had the business plan, Apple CEO Steve Jobs molded the device's shape, feel and design. The interesting thing about the project was that since it started, it had 100 percent of Steve Jobs' time. After 8 weeks, the first model was ready for production. Absolute secrecy about all the iPod prototypes was maintained during its production.

To compliment the excellent product, there was an excellent advertising campaign. They pepped up the advertising with some catchy lines and some famous artists performing for it.

Apple provided iPod users the easiest way to download music from CD, computer hard disk or from net. It built an excellent music sale service and accessory business around iPod.

iPod was first released in October 2001.Against all skepticism about its price it proved to be an instant hit. Apple never stopped. After that what followed was an iPod series. iPods with 1 GB, 4 GB, 6 GB, 20 GB & 40 GB hard drives came into market. iPod with Photo storage also made its way. Users were thrilled to see a new player which was as big (& thin) as a Cadbury chocolate, which had such an amazing storage capacity (GBs of hard drive which meant they can store thousands & thousands of songs) and a long lasting battery (once charged the player was able to play for 12-18 hours).But what really caught the imagination was simple user interface designed around a central scroll wheel.

Consumers flocked to buy the new gadget and still now they are flocking.

Once iPod got established, almost a new industry started which developed & produced accessories for iPod. Check the range and number of accessories available for iPod, you will be amazed. You get an accessory if you want to use the iPod in your car stereo, you have another accessory if you like to wear it as an ornament(I have seen people wearing iPod like arm bracelet & as necklace),you have some other accessory to use it in home stereo….

iPod soon became a cult figure. So much so that in early days in New York when iPod was a status & style statement, (iPod is still a style statement but not sure about status statement) robbery was targeted on people in metro trains wearing those white ear buds (iPod comes with a funky white ear phones).Police has to ask people using iPod not to use it in hostile places and if possible to camouflage the ear phones with some other color….

An interesting news story broke out when George Bush’s iPod play list was revealed somehow. The president’s iPod play list seemingly contained songs which went against the conservative image he holds!!

It doesn’t mean that everything was/is right with iPod.
iPod ran into problem when the batteries for its first generation were found to drain off within a year, users couldn’t replace those batteries and hence had nothing but to buy one more iPod. After a public anger, Apple promptly replaced the batteries for all affected users and took care of that battery problem in its next generation iPods.

iPod got into problem with rapper Eminem when he sued Apple for illegally using his “Lose yourself” number for iPod advertisement.

Barring legal & technical glitches, I think one thing which can go against iPod in new markets is its price.The price of iPod looks to be higher than any other mp3 player.

Where iPod is heading now?
There seems to be no stopping the fairy tale success of iPod.

iPod is acting as a ‘gateway drug’ for Apple products. (Gateway drug is one ‘soft’ or slightly addictive drug which will lead to the use of other ‘harder’ drugs!).In the sense that iPod is prompting users to shift from Microsoft Windows based PCs to Apple Mac PCs. In a single year after iPod got released it seems 33% of Microsoft windows users shifted to Apple Mac!!

Looks like the ‘halo effect’ of iPod is benefiting Apple…

Have you heard of this term ‘Podcasting’?

That is the latest thing iPod is into. Podcast is like a radio show published by anyone on the net. It could be a real radio show, some random person airing their views, or a band showcasing their songs. Using software like Apple iTunes you can get your PC to keep pulling new podcasts (which are in mp3 format) down whenever they come out. What it means is that ... you just tell your podcast software to say "I want to download any podcasts whenever a new Britney Spears podcast appears" and it will keep checking for any new ones. So once podcasts are captured, then it can be transferred to iPod and played. This concept is called ‘time-shifted media’ and its set to revolutionize radio and TV. Traditionally, shows have been broadcast on a ‘view by appointment’ or ‘listen by appointment’ basis.

There are even speculations that US elections 2008 will be done by podcasting!!! One more thing happening is the shaping of an opinion among some hardcore iPod communities that iPod inventors should be awarded with Nobel…

If we are to believe Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs, we are entering an age of “iPod economy”.

While you ponder about iPod, let me go & hook to my iPod….

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