Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Wayback Machine: Reaction To Release of Original iPod

I'm not a big techno-geek, but when I read about the soon-to-be released 5 GB iPod back in 2001 I knew I HAD to have one. I bought mine within days of release, and have had one ever since.

Yet many of the Mac faithful boldly predicted the white-cased iPod was no more than a white elephant, destined for failure. Here's a sampling of early reaction from the MacRumors website:

"I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! Who cares about an MP3 player? I want something new! I want them to think differently! Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!"

"gee! an mp3 player with a HD! how original! kinda reminds me of a JUKEBOX i once knew."

"I’d call it the Cube 2.0 as it wont sell, and be killed off in a short time…and it’s not really functional."

"All that hype for an MP3 player? Break-thru digital device? The Reality Distiortion Field is starting to warp Steve’s mind if he thinks for one second that this thing is gonna take off."

"There are already two products similar to this on the market. The Nomad Jukebox and the Archos Jukebox which can come with a 20 gig HD. The iPod is obviously alot cooler and has firewire, but it is far from revolutionary. I for one am disappointed and think that apple is making a mistake by trying to get into this market."

Since the above remarks, Apple has sold over 100 million iPods. More significantly, the iPod has forever changed the way people listen to music. No one proudly displays CD collections in their homes anymore. And does anyone really enjoy listening to format-driven commercial radio these days? The iPod made it possible to store a complete CD collection in a card-deck sized device, allowing custom playlist creation for effortless shuffling between musical genres. The only negative I've noticed is this: with so many songs at your disposal, it's sometimes hard to finish listening to one before skipping ahead to the next one.

Yes, it's possible to create an iTunes playlist so large that you couldn't listen to each song in your lifetime. Isn't that the real challenge of the digital revolution? With so much content, so easily stored and accessed, and one short lifetime, how do we decide what's worth our attention?

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