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I Pod as a Social Artifact


Submitted By Gelander44
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Instructor Barb Gerber
WRA 150
5 October 2011
The IPods Impact on Society
“Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.” (Issacson). This is a famous quote by Steve Jobs. The project was a secret. Other then Steve Jobs and a few other apple executives nobody knew what it was. The code name was P-68 (Knopper).
The IPod was introduced to the public in 2001. At first, it was only compatible with Mac computers, but two years later, the iPod could be used with any type of computer. This caused sales to skyrocket! Steve Jobs worked with apple inc. to come up with the IPod. Although Apple was not the first to come up with the idea of an mp3 player, no other mp3 player has ever been as big of a hit. Sony and a few other companies had come up with digital music players a few years prior, but their versions were more expensive and could not hold nearly the amount of songs as the IPod could.
The IPod was the first mp3 player to really succeed because people loved the idea. Not only was the IPod a convenient way to store music, It was a social and fashion statement. The IPod changed everything about society. Think about how technology, fashion, and the Internet have changed since the IPod. The ads were genius, making the
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IPod an irresistible necessity. Marketing caused the IPod to be “cool” and every one wanted one. The IPod has changed society in more ways then anyone could have imagined, but not all of the changes are positive.
The invention of the IPod has led to advances in technology that affect almost every aspect of society (Knopper). The iPod has indeed led to more convenient means of listening to music but it has also led to new technology. The IPod led to the IPhone, which is a smart phone with an IPod built into it. Since then, almost every phone company has their own version of a smart phone with an mp3 player in it. The IPod has changed the technology in car radios inserting auxiliary cords so IPods can play thought the speakers. Ford has even announced that they will stop putting compact disk (CD) players in their new car models.
Before the Mp3 player, CDs were the most prominent way to listen to music. They were portable and much smaller then records. When the mp3 player was invented, it gave people the opportunity to listen to their entire music collection on the go. Instead of having up to 20 songs on a CD, mp3 players made it possible to have thousands of songs all stored on one small device that could fit in your pocket.
The iPod has affected CD sales dramatically. The popularity of the iPod has caused CD sales to drop because the IPod has replaced the use of CDs for many people. The CD allowed artists to sell their albums as a whole and make more money off of them. The IPod has had the opposite affect. Artists began to stop making as much money off of their music because many consumers stopped buying CDs. Buying mp3s online is not only more convenient for the consumer, but it also gives the consumer more options. The
Garrett 3 consumer can either buy one song, or the entire album along with accessibility to any track ever recorded.
The iPod completely changed the way music is bought with iTunes. ITunes gives the consumer the opportunity to buy multiple songs from a variety of artists for the same price of a CD. If someone only likes one song from and album, they only have to buy that one song. ITunes music player lets you synch your online music player to your iPod. This was a concept that before the iPod, has never been so popular. ITunes lets you scroll through music and make specific playlists. Music is easily downloaded to iTunes, within a matter of minutes. With a few simple clicks, you can synch your entire playlist to your IPod. Your favorite CDs and Mp3s can be uploaded to the iTunes library in order to have all of your music in one place. Not only is ITunes a music library, but it is also a music store.
ITunes is the world’s number one music store ( ITunes not only sells music, it also offers movies, TV shows, games, books, podcasts, and App purchases. ITunes sells single tracks for around $0.99. Most consumers no longer buy entire albums from artists. Instead they buy a few favorite songs. This has shown a decrease in CD sales, therefore a decrease in profit that artists make off of their music. The IPod has definitely changed the music industry, but is it really for the better? Some would argue that the IPod has destroyed the music industry. Apple continues to make billons of dollars every year with the IPod bringing in forty percent of their sales Knopper). How does it affect the rest of the music industry? Sales of records have plunged and ITunes along with illegal music downloading is to blame.
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The IPod has given a new meaning to the world “stealing”. Years ago, stealing music meant physically going to the store and stealing the record. In this day in age, it is hard to control people from stealing music on the Internet. File sharing and Digital Media make downloading music illegally more widespread. Artists, along with many other people in the music industry lose money due to illegal downloading of music. With websites whose purpose is to share free downloadable music, who would want to pay about a dollar per song to buy music through Itunes? Not only is downloading free music on the Internet easy, it is also very hard to get in trouble for it.
Napster was the first website with downloadable software with the purpose of trading free music. It started off as a chat room with messages all about how the users could trade music for free. Then it eventually established a search box where users could search for a certain song. Napster has been shut down, but other sites such as “limewire” and “frostwire” still remain. Controlling the file sharing of copyrighted music has proven to be a challenge since the IPod was invented.
If it were not for the invention of the IPod, less music would be stolen through free, illegal, Internet downloading sites. I did a study to see how many people I know have downloaded music illegally. I conducted a survey to prove my theory that the IPod has caused illegal music downloading to be more widespread then if the IPod was not invented. I posted the survey as my status on facebook. The people who answered the survey were all of my friends and relatives. The survey included three simple questions. The first being, do you own an IPod? I asked this question to the survey participants to see how many people taking my survey actually used an IPod. The second question I
asked was, have you ever used an illegal music-downloading site such as limewire or frostwire? This question tells me how many people actually use these illegal music- downloading sites. The final question in my survey was, if you have used an illegal music-downloading site, do you think you would have used it if you did not have an IPod? The answers I got proved my theory right. Out of the 24 people who took my survey 20 of them (91 percent) said they owned an IPod. 16 out of 24 people (about 73 percent) admitted to downloading music illegally from pirating sites such as limewire or frostwire. And 59 percent of the people saying that they have downloaded music illegally claim would not have done it if they did not own an IPod. This means that 59 percent of people who answered my survey use illegal downloading sites for the sole purpose of putting music on their IPods.
In the year 2000, the Baja men sold 4 million copies of their album when, “who let the dogs out” became a hit (Knopper). Just three years later, when fountains of Wayne had their number one hit “Stacy’s mom” they only sold about 400,000 copies of their album (Knopper). Note this was after ITunes and music pirating sites became a hit. Steve Greenberg, and executive at the record label signed to both artists, blames online music piracy for this decline in record sales (Knopper). A reported 4.3 million people around the world traded copyrighted songs through illegal music downloading sites in September 2003, when “Stacy’s mom” became a hit (Knopper). Although not everyone downloads music illegally, it is obvious that many others picked the individual song off ITunes rather then buying the entire album.

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When apple came up with the idea of ITunes no one could have predicted how it would affect the music industry. Originally apple priced every song the same at 99 cents. Apple decided it would keep 22 cents for every song it sold (Knopper). This left only 67 cents for the labels to divide up among artists, publishers, and themselves (Knopper). This is far less then making between ten and twelve dollars on every eighteen-dollar CD sold (Knopper). Many record labels recognized this as a terrible deal but had no choice but to sign with apple. Steve jobs also insisted that ITunes users must be able to transfer music to an unlimited number of iPods (Knopper). This would allow many people to get music with out having to pay for songs, but people still had to buy iPods. Ask yourself; does this seem like a fair deal? Roger James, of Warner music, recalls, [Steve] “Job’s stock went from 8- 80 billion. Ours was in reverse” (Knopper)
As much as Brilliant marketing and convenience have made the iPod a success, ITunes and Illegal music downloading have played a larger roll. IPods hold thousands of songs and there is no way that all of those songs are either downloaded from iTunes or put on via CDs bought from stores. A 80GB IPod holds about 20,000 songs. There is no chance IPod listeners are buying 20,000 songs at 99 cents a piece. Illegal music downloading had a huge impact on the IPods booming success. Today, Apple enjoys continued success in the market with sales of over 174 million IPods (Hollington). The music industry continues to suffer.

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Knopper, Steve. Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. New York: Free Press, 2009. Print.

Hollington, Jesse David. IPod and ITunes: Portable Genius. Hobroken: Wiley, 2009. eBook. Isaccson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

"What is ITunes?.", 2011. Web. 19 Oct 2011.

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