What is it that makes the iPod so dominant?

What is it that makes the iPod so dominant?

Summary: What is it about the iPod that's made is such a dominant brand? Is it the design? Functionality? Brand? Fashion? Price? Marketing? I'm stumped as to why, so I'm handing the question over to you.


Anyone who's followed me here from my PC Doctor blog will know that I don't have an iPod and that I don't use iTunes.  Don't get me wrong, it's nothing personal.  I've looked at a number of iPods, handled a few and listened to a couple, but as yet I've never taken the plunge and bought one.  I've bought a number of portable media devices over the years (I like the Creative MuVo right now - it's small and I can power it for days on a few NiMH AAAs),  However, one thing that I can't fail to take note of is that the iPod brand is phenomenally popular, and that in not owning one, I'm part of a minority among MP3 users.  Whereas I've gone to a store and looked at one and walked away empty handed, a lot of people seem to be unable to resist the temptation.  I think that the things that put me off was the battery life (better now but I'd rather rely on AAA), restrictive formats and iTunes.

Yesterday CNET posted an editors' review of a new portable video player from Toshiba, the Gigabeat S.  While on paper it looks great, the reality is that it's unlikely to even make a minute dent in the sales of the iPod.  It's a pretty safe bet that six months from now we'll be saying "Gigabeat?  What's that now?"

So, my question to you is simple - What is it about the iPod that's made is such a dominant brand?  Is it the design?  Functionality?  Brand?  Fashion?  Price?  Marketing?  I'm stumped as to why, so I'm handing the question over to you. 

  • If you bought an iPod, why did you buy it?  How many have you bought?  Would you buy another one? 
  • If you're like me and not an iPod owner, then don't feel left out!  I've got some questions for you too!!  First off, why haven't you bought an iPod?  What do you use instead?  Do you have any plans to buy an iPod in the future?

As an aside, what are you're thought on anti-iPod marketing campaigns like the iDont by Sandisk?  Are they just a bit of fun or are they offensive?

You have the floor!

Topic: Apple

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  • One word "Sheeple"

    I am not saying the iPod is a bad product but it is over priced. Much like Nike shoes. However, much like cell phones if you don't have one you are not in the "in" crowd.

    Say it with me "We the sheeple must blindly follow along..."
  • Costs as much as a new computer...

    ... and my understanding is that the Apple store downloads are not very high quality sound. The device does play MP3's, but so will a lot of others.

    I have enough equipment in enough places that portability is not significant to me.

    I do not try to impress or reassure people with a brand of gadget. The iPod is not a practical need, but an image product, self-image and social image. For me that's not enough to justify such a substantial outlay.
    Anton Philidor
    • Portability issue

      That for me is the deal setter. Going on trips, working around the house - you name it, the ability to listen to audiobooks, pod casts, or just whatever music you like was the cause to buy one. Hook up a couple of decent computer speakers, start an audio book, and cleaning the garage almost becomes bearable...
  • Non-iPod Owner

    Figured I'd answer your questions.

    Cost, form factor, and format lock-in were all points against the iPod. Plus I don't view the ability to download mediocre quality MP3's from iTune (by mediocre I mean compression and loss of signal, not the library content) a need.

    I've been happy with Creative products for a long time now, so have a Nomad Zen Xtra - 40 GB. One thing I wish it had was the ability to rip WMA lossless.

    And nope - no desires to buy an iPod in the future.

    Now - as to what I DO like about the iPod - the ability to plug an iPod into other consumer electronics. Hint to Samsung, Creative etc. - what about doing the same thing, huh? Why don't the 'non-iPod' makers out there come up with a single interface standard and freeze Apple out? That way your 'fill in the blank' MP3 player can be recognized by your auto radio, home system, what have you.
    • Mediocre quality MP3's from iTunes

      quietLee doesn't sound like he uses iTunes. Okay, but first he should give it a try. He'll find that you can download cd-quality or any of several formats, including lossless. It's the end-user's choice what to download. You do have to choose what you want in iTunes preferences. This is also true when burning CDs of purchased music.

      iTunes Store sold a billion songs by giving the user what they want--good songs at a reasonable price.
      • And you would be right there...

        I haven't. Outside of the ability to download an ISO of a single track, there really isn't anything of any of the online music stores that attract me.
  • I like iPods

    The iPod is the one all the other companies imitate. Apple keeps on being the cutting edge of fresh ideas and cool marketing. I have an older 20 gig iPod. I use it to store music in full CD-quality, audio books, backups of my most important personal files and taped conference workshops from a writer's conference I attended. Because I use it for backups of my writing and use the taped workshops as a learning tool, it's tax deductible. I actually don't listen to music much. I prefer audiobooks when walking or traveling. The ipod is ideal for my use.

    It doesn't hurt that everyone is envious of my "toy". I bought the newer iPod that plays tv shows for my duaghter-in-law and the nano iPod for my granddaughter. My son is the lone holdout. He doesn't want a music player of any brand.
    • Apple did not innovate

      I think that apple may have been the first to use a hard drive. Also their touch wheel thing is innovotive. Other than that they imitated other companies. Photos, videos, colour screens and other features were first on other devices. So their big innovation was the hard disk and touch wheel. These aer pretty big things but you cannot say other companies have just copied them this far down the line.
  • Why NOT an iPod

    I have several hundred GB of mp3s - and have acumulated a few players over the last several years. The deal killer for me is control. I refuse to own/use a player that requires any thing other than Windows Explorer to load/unload!
    My present favorite is the iRiver H10. I bought two (his & hers) 20GB versions for the price on a single 30GB iPod.
  • no ipod for me

    I don't yet have a hard drive based player, but will not be getting an ipod when I do. But then I don't buy Bose speakers, designer jeans or Starbucks coffee either. I'm just not the kind to pay for a label.
    There are some things the ipod does well, and some things the others do better, but the 30-40% cost premium simply for being an ipod will always keep me away.
    And of course iTunes doesn't stand a chance with me... I just don't like restrictions.
  • ipod

    I used to use my laptop for listening to music. Then I considered the wear and tear on my machine's hard drive (it has to almost constantly spin). I was looking at buying a small player when I got my first ipod as a present. I use it all of the time while working. The advantage is I can plug it into my system with the usb or firewire and have the itunes synch it up and keep it charged. I now use itunes to also manage my songs by category and play lists. I have also loaded my kids music so I can play their music on car rides using the little itrip radio transmitter.

    I won't buy music via the iStore because I want to own the songs and be able to use them on my system or wherever I want to use them. I use my own purchased CDs to make my own mp3 songs. Every one of my songs I own the CD and I do not loan anything out.

    I have also had the ipod die on me already. The support was incredible. In less than one week I had a replacement ipod in my hand and I was re-synching up the songs.

    I won't buy a video model yet. Don't have a need for the video capabilities.

    The ease of use and capabilities are perfect for me. The model I have is the 40gig one so I have plenty of songs on there.
    Silent Observer
    • Yah but

      I do exactly the same thing with a Creative. Thru the laptop - but I use a Creative external sound card as the onboard sound was crud.
  • iPod Lover

    I can put slide shows -- with music -- on my 5th generation
    iPod and show them to friends and relatives when traveling. I
    have a few video music clips that I enjoy seeing from time to
    time when taking a flight. I like to play my various playlists of
    music when taking my nightly long walks in FL or plugging it
    into a rental car radio/speaker while driving long distances, like
    my wife and I just did last week while driving down Oregon's
    scenic coastline.
    • Sounds like your iPod ...

      ... has integrated to become more of a way of life than just a gadget. Interesting. I hear that a lot about the iPod but rarely about any other commercial tech gadget (it feels like it's managed to cross the line from gizmo to a piece of jewelry or a watch - only more versatile)...
      I'm starting to sound like an ad for Apple - and I don't even own one!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • agree - more than a gadget

        I agree with your thoughts. The iPod Nano fits in my wallet, so I use it in the car, at friends' houses, while working out, and at home in the living room.
        Part of its appeal is definitely the way it looks and feels. Great design.
        Another part is how easy it is to get accessories that fit into your home, car and general travel.
        Finally, the fact that so many other folks own a lot of the same accessories, of accessories that work with iPods, makes it even easier to use in other situations.
        • That seems more a key to the value of the iPod

          Is that there is a consistent interface that other consumer electronics can utilize. Samsung/Creative/iRiver etc. should agree to a common interface (with or without Apple).
  • Keep the great comments coming in!

    It's cool to see such a level-headed discussion of the pros and cons of the iPod from both the perspective of owners and those that don't have one.
    Another question - has the iPod made any PC users feel that they would like to give a Mac a go?
    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • I don't really relate the iPod to the mac much

      My sister has a nano which I am not too impressed with in terms of the quality of materials as you really do need a case for them. Other than the issue of the nano scratching easily it seems to be a pretty nice thing. It is a touch expensive but you do get the easily readable screen and a rechargable battery compared to normal mp3 players.

      It has not crossed my mind before your post about connecting the iPod to the mac. It definately has nto made me want to buy a mac. From what I have seen there isn't really anything special about the ipod compared to other offerings like a friend has a creative. I don't feel that the high apple price tag a limited compatibility is worth it.
  • iPod yes - AAC no

    I bought Nanos for my wife and myself, and we love them - they're cool, they have groovy accessories and work really, really well. I also use iTunes to manage our music files. However, I will not purchase music in the AAC format - who knows what player I might want to use in the future?
    Also, I prefer rechargeable to disposable batteries.