Sunday, December 04, 2005

Understanding the iPod's success

Like a lot of people, I'm amazed at the iPod's success. It's only just as technically sophisticated as many other MP3 players already available on the market. But the device rules the market through its style rather than its function. It's hard to put your finger on the difference. When I got my iPod photo about a year ago (my first MP3 player), I was appreciative of its solid feel and good performance. I didn't realize how unique the iPod's style was until my wife got me a Delphi MyFi XM radio as a gift. This new machine, while *more* functional than the iPod, felt lacking. I still don't know what many of its buttons are for. It has a cheap, tinny, plastic feel. And it's not quite the right size for one's shirt pocket.

I owned one of the original 128K Macintosh computers, and have owned and worked with an example from every generation since. I've come to enjoy the feel of the Macintosh. With the exception of the "dark ages" in the mid 1990's, the Macintosh has held a special place in my heart for its fantastic design.

I ran across a site with tons of Macintosh history. Apple and the History of Personal Computer Design gives an extensive history of the vision that Steve Jobs had for Apple computers as "consumer products" and "works of art." This history and vision, and the many examples of design from the Macintosh history in particular, lead almost directly to an explanation of the iPod's success.

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