Friday, July 4, 2008

What's Had More Influence: the iPhone or the iPod?

The iPhone has stirred up the wireless industry like no other mobile device has. We haven't seen this much hoopla surrounding a product launch since, well, since the iPod came to market back in 2001. It's incredible that Apple has managed to challenge existing industry standard with not one, but two of its portable devices; especially since the company's history is as a PC manufacturer! But which product will have more of an impact on tech society as we know it: the iPod or the iPhone?

There's no doubt that the iPod is winning that race already. Not only because the device has been in existence for almost seven years now, but also because it has literally changed the way people listen to music and access content. Coupled with iTunes, the iPod defines a generation that surfs virtual albums on-the-go, and, arguably more important, downloads music from the 'net rather than purchasing physical CDs in store. The iPod used to be given flak as a device that encouraged low-quality music consumption and discouraged an appreciation for true audio. But with increasingly high-end docking systems, compatibility with a host of A/V receivers, and even audiophile tube amps from companies like Fatman, the iPod has been transformed into a gadget that simply encourages music in every way possible. And with the addition of photo and video playback, it has also helped fuel the shift toward portable media players, not just portable audio.

Meanwhile, the iPhone, which found its way into the U.S. market a year ago, has already shaken up the wireless industry. I'm not just talking about here in Canada, where the upcoming release of the highly-coveted gadget has caused consumer protest against high data rates. In the U.S., Apple managed to gain the kind of control over distribution and pricing of the phone that no other wireless manufacturer has been able to accomplish. Many have argued that the iPhone has begun an era where the wireless handset manufacturer has more control in what the consumer ultimately pays and receives, not the carrier.

So while the iPod has had a major impact on the industry, the iPhone, which is essentially a highly-sophisticated iPod that adds a larger screen, mobile phone, web browser, and WiFi functionality, will extend that reach. Add to these features its ability to accept third-party applications, and essentially transform into a full-fledged on-the-go computing device, and the iPhone will reach markets that the iPod merely skimmed.

The bottom line? Both of these devices have been influential to the technology sector. Perhaps 7 years from now, we can revisit this question again to see what each product has evolved into.

Happy Independence Day to our neighbours to the south!

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Jaybird said...

The iPhone is changing the way people use their wireless devices and get their data, but I think the iPod has had more influence. It has been a big part of changing the way people listen to music and has become the "walkman" of the 21st Century. Every mp3 player made today has its goal set on being the iPod killer.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi jaybird,

I agree. Perhaps the iPhone will become the "brick phone" of the 21st Century. Just imagine: we could be looking back on the state of the industry 20 years from now and saying to one another "can you imagine that there was a time when we actually had to touch the phone's screen for something to happen? How ancient!" Technology is certainly moving faster than we could ever imagine.

Anonymous said...

I'm 72. I've lived through many changes in the technology of listening to music. All the way from mechanical 'wind-up' gramaphones and 'crystal-radio's' and most importatly, through the era of 'Hi-Fi' and 'stereo'.
Now, with the development of iPod's and cell phone access to music downloads, the whole quality of 'pop' music has changed - for the worse!.
Listening to the 'Hit-parade' now is like listening to music through a drainpipe!. It's become 'wall-paper' music or 'Pat-acake' music.
There is no 'body' or reality to it all.
Michael Birmingham England