The iPod for Generation Y is like the Walkman times a hundred, thousand trillion. The ability to have thousands of songs (depending on the model) at your disposal, coupled with an iconic design and aggressively trendy ad campaign helped catapult the device to cultural icon status. Music was all we needed on the go for much of the last decade; everything else was an added plus.
As the decade wrapped we saw a convergence in media devices. Portable music playback couldn’t get much better for the majority of consumers and it was time to evolve in order to keep sales moving.
Sam Machkovech broke it down recently in an article for The Atlantic:
“Music consumption lays forever changed in the iPod’s wake; no 8-year storm could have so much impact again, especially since its biggest result is that every pocket-sized device now comes with MP3 playback. The idea of holding a cell phone in one hand and a music player in the other will become an antiquated laugh soon enough.”
We’re participating in a competitive consumer tech market where the best handhelds do a little bit of everything. The days of just playing music, videos and podcasts are over for millions and those numbers are constantly growing. Hell, the smart phone market is already doing damage to MP3 players & handheld camcorders are gaining popularity as portable gaming devices.
And with that said, I have disagree with Mr. Machkovech in regards to attaching every last function to a phone, at least for the time being. There are still popular devices for people who want to leave the handset out of the equation. Thing is, they do pretty much everything else under the sun. Newer personal media players like the iPod Touch and Zune HD are the most popular candidates in providing music, videos, apps, games and wi-fi internet access all in one device. The PSP and DSi, gaming hand helds first and foremost, moonlight as portable media devices but arguably aren’t as slick in their interface and utility as the aforementioned chalk horses.
Portable media players are seeing the same fate that cell phones met in the advent of the smart phone. Their functionality trickled down into the average joe schmoe sphere in the form of the iPhone, various Blackberry® models, Palm Pre and Nexus One. Now people can’t get enough of them. As sales climb for these do-it-all machines, the geek in me will be intrigued to see what will happen next. Personally speaking, it’d seem backward to roll with a iPod classic when my ill-used 5g iPod finally gives out.