A couple months ago, I told my girlfriend that the explosion of third-party iPod accessories was an important trend indicator. Apple's iPods have become a hot fashion item, genre-defining gadget, and ideavirus, zooming:
"...right into the sweet spot where a consumer product becomes something much, much more: an icon, a pet, a status indicator and an indispensable part of one's life. To 3 million-plus owners, iPods not only give constant access to their entire collection of songs and CDs, but membership into an implicit society that's transforming the way music will be consumed in the future. "When my students see me on campus with my iPod, they smile," says Professor Katch, whose unit stores everything from Mozart to Dean Martin. "It's sort of a bonding." (Newsweek cover story, July 26)
As a rule, organizations don't reinvent their foundations. iPod, iTunes, and Apple's online music store offer Windows users an eye-opening introduction to Apple ease of use; but Apple has always been a hardware company at heart. As the iPod phenomenon demonstrates, it still is.
Fortunately for Jobs & co., dressing up their traditional approach for a new market and new times is proving to be just the ticket. Welcome to iPod Nation.
UPDATE: Blogger Eric McErlain has an iPod story of his own.