Happy Birthday iPod
There have been a spate of stories this week about the 5-year anniversary of the iPod's debut, which have me thinking about my very mixed feelings about the iPod.
On the one hand, it is a great product. It's one of those things that fills needs that you didn't even know you had. When I bought my iPod in March 2004, I thought of it as a cute (and expensive) Walkman -- a nice gadget, but not really anything new. But it is really a lot more than that. It's a way to store all of the music you own in one place, and to have it with you wherever you go. And now, it's not just music -- it's TV shows, movies, books, and podcasts (a concept that didn't even exist two years ago).
But I have some serious qualms. First, the quality. I've been lucky in that the mini that I bought two-and-a-half years ago is still working, but I know that many others, including some fellow junkettes, haven't been. It's just crazy that a $250 electronic product shouldn't be expected to last that long. And Apple's attitude toward it is maddening. They don't seem to care; they expect you to buy another one. And then there are the little things -- why is it so vulnerable to scratching? It's a portable music player for god's sake; it should be rugged. And if the design is going to be the focal point of the advertising, why force people to cover it up with those stupid covers?
Second, I really worry about Apple's market share and exclusive file format squelching competition. I don't want to have to buy a new iPod every 2 years because the old one dies, and more importantly, I'm still holding out hope for something with both an mp3 player and a radio. So I keep buying music on cds, and only buy the occasional single and TV show on iTunes. But if you've bought a lot of content on iTunes, you're stuck with Apple. Which is unsettling.