Saturday, April 14, 2007

iPod ownership indicates more than mere affluence - by JoyfulCuriousity

Nike shoes or Coach bags tell the world that you have money. iPods tell the world that you own technology.

When I gave my spouse an iPod for her birthday last December, we were amazed at the assumptions that had been made about our comfort with technology. The iPod video comes "plug and play" without an instruction manual; Apple assumes that the user already knows how to turn on and off the iPod and to navigate through the menus.

Beyond the knowledge of how to use an iPod, there is an impressive list of what you need to own in order to operate and customize the iPod.

To run an iPod you require a computer on which you have your own identity (either you're the only user or you have login) and you need a good internet connection. iTunes (which is used to download files and upload them on the iPod) is user-specific. If one owns a PC (not a Mac), before using an iPod for the first time, one has to download iTunes onto their computer from the Apple site. This means that one couldn't use the computer at the public library to maintain, or even initialize, their iPod.

The iPod is a lovely and addictive machine The designers created such an intuitive device that after the first little while of using it, the iPod seemingly disappears and the user is left with the joy of listening to music, learning from lectures, or watching home-made lego videos.

But I wonder who is left out from the iRevolution? I can imagine that beyond separating rich from poor, the iPod separates technologically-comfortable (and endowed) from not.

Note: in the sparse iPod literature that comes with the machine, there is no article before "iPod" - not "an" or "the" or even "your". Is this to make iPod friendly, like a pet or a previously-named Cabbage Patch doll? Or did Apple drop their articles to make their documents less wordy and more accessible to non-English speakers?

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