Thursday, 30 April 2009

Icons #7 i-Pods

Is it really only eight years since Apple released the first i-Pods?  Can that really be right?  It feels like they've been around for ever.  

The one truly iconic brand on the market.  Not just MP3 players, but maybe of anything that the average person can buy.  They are just so damn desirable.

Ever tried to use another brand of MP3 player?  Sony make some pretty good ones, but even they feel clunky compared to the i-Pod interface.  So is that what makes them so special?  Is it ease of use that sells them to the public?  Is that why I have two of them?  The click wheel of the Nano and Classic is design genius.  It is very simple to operate.  And when someone who hasn't seen one working clocks that the circle is touch sensitive, you see that moment of realisation.  The 'wow' factor.  That's a five year old interface (4th generation i-Pods had the first click wheel along with the Mini) that still inspires awe, although admittedly that's usually in the old folk.

My first i-Pod was a 5th generation 60gig.  They weren't calling them Classics just yet but god, i felt like I'd bought one.  All my music, quite literally everywhere I went.  The lot.  And did I like i-Tunes.  I spent days putting all my music on my PC.  Which was about 400 odd CD's.  And back then did i-Tunes get your album covers for you?  Nope.  Which meant hours of finding them all online.  Sounds dull.  But for a geek like me, heaven.  It played video too.  How cool is that?  I love my 60gig.  It's three years old now but still works so well.  No battery issues, rarely any problems syncing it either.  I think it's highly unlikely I'd ever buy another make of MP3 player.  Every year Apple make improvements to design and function, and this is key I think, every i-Pod feels like it was a labour of love because they just look and feel so right.  That's a hard trick to pull with a mass produced product.  And people keep coming back for more.

With a new release every year many consumers just upgrade to have the latest one.  I resisted temptation for three years.  My 60gig still looked sharp from the front, despite the scratches but then came the announcement of the i-Phone and the i-Pod Touch.  Again I resisted... for about 18 months.  

You have to have used one of these devices to fully appreciate just how clever they are.  Not just clever but beautiful too.  The phone, because of an 18 month Orange contract wasn't really an option, but three months ago I bought a 16gig Touch.  It doesn't hold all my music (sad face) but it does so much more.  In built Wifi with full web browser, that works so well.  Two point contact on the touch sensitive screen.  But the real genius is Apple's embracing of the home brew software.  There are loads and loads of Applications available, many of them free, or if not, reasonably priced.  Companies like Sony must be looking on in envy as their PSP flounders in its wake.  The Apps let you define your i-Pod.  Facebook and Twitter apps allow easy communication.  I could go on and on, but if you have one get Flight Control.  Tis ace.

Apple, I'm quite sure, will continue to push the boundaries.  Steve Jobs and all have created an Icon out of a fledgling market.  Rarely can one product have dominated so fully and it shows no sign of diminishing.  It will take something special to dislodge Apple from the top of the tree and I honestly don't see it happening.

The first i-Pods hit the shelves a little over a year after Mr Jobs demanded their creation.  Eight years later everyone that has one wonders what comes next.  Personally I can't wait.

I love my i-Pods.

This post is dedicated to @FionaKyle