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Ten years of the iPod – changing the way we buy music

Fri 11 Mar 2011

Ten years of the iPod – changing the way we buy music

Later this year the humble iPod will be ten years old. When it was first released in late 2001 the first Apple-only version sparked the beginning of a massive shift in music buying habits. When it moved to support the Windows platform too the following year its popularity and, more importantly desirability, laid a foundation for its transition into an iconic piece of technology.

While the iPod wasn’t the first portable music player to playback computer files, it was the first to package the functionality into something everyday folks could use easily. One of the most important features was the click-wheel that offered a way of scrolling simply through vast lists of files. Who would have thought that a new type of electronic switch would change music buying so drastically? Perhaps it was the usability of this simple feature that encouraged us to carry such a vast array of different music everywhere we go?

Back in the early days of recorded music the 45rpm single was king. Records were expensive by modern standards and the humble single was by far the dominant format. During the 1970s and 1980s, and especially with the introduction of CDs, albums became the more desirable purchase. CD albums and singles were physically the same size and the price ratio of album to single was just 5:1 or so.

Downloads, particularly from iTunes, have turned this on its head again with singles being by far the largest part of the market. Perhaps this is because the price ratio of album to single is now a heady 10:1 or maybe it’s just that downloading is all about choice and singles offer the ability to pick and choose tunes (and ignore the inevitable album fillers…)?

Either way the iPod has had a dramatic effect on music sales but also has arguably played its part in introducing a whole new generation of people to great (and not so great) music.

For that we give our thanks.

To see just how good an iPod can sound why not check out the rCube or irDock at your local Arcam dealer?