Wired News: How Does The iPod Affect Society?

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Early indications are that Appleis new mini music player, the iPod mini, is a hit; people stood in lines in front of Apple store in many areas of the country in order to get hands on the iPod mini in the color they wanted, and Apple had 100,000 of the baby iPods on pre-order.

With so many iPods and iPod minis in the world, they must have some general affect on our society. Who pays attention to such things? Wired News knows who, and caught up with Dr. Michael Bull of the University of Sussex for an interview. Dr. Bull has written one book, and is in the process of writing another which examines how personal devices, included cell phones, PDAs, and iPods affect us. From the interview:

Wired News: What do you make of the iPod mini?

Michael Bull: The iPod mini will be popular. Sales will expand as the market expands. Itis a repeat of what happened with the Walkman 25 years ago. Apple is out front of a massively expanding market. Their machines are brilliant in every respect.... At the moment, they canit lose, but Apple will eventually lose its dominant market share. The competition will be too intense.

[...]

The other thing is that thereis a lot of illegal downloading. Half the people Iive talked to so far download music illegally. The investment theyire making is going into the artifact, not the music. The market is moving toward the artifact, not the music to fill it.

WN: Yeah. Apple has always said the iTunes music store was a loss leader, a way to sell more iPods.

Bull: Right. In terms of usage, Apple got it intuitively right. People use (the iPod) as an alarm clock, and when they listen to it at night, they like the fact it can turn itself off. Itis how people like to use music. I donit think Apple did much research into how people would use their players, but they got most of it right.

For example, a lot of people use it to go to work, for commuting. I found that they use the same music on a regular basis. They will often play the same half-dozen tunes for three months, and each part of the journey has its own tune.

It gives them control of the journey, the timing of the journey and the space they are moving through. Itis a generalization, but the main use (of the iPod) is control. People like to be in control. They are controlling their space, their time and their interaction ... and theyire having a good time. That canit be understated -- it gives them a lot of pleasure.

The Wired News interview is an interesting read, so stop by for the full article.

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