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Apple’s IPod a Technological, Cultural Phenomenon

Apple's iPod has become a technological phenomenon tha has been growing since it first hit store shelves in 2001. Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown reports on its technical and cultural impact.

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    It's the invasion of the pod people, the iPod people, those folks passing you with the buds coming out of their ears. It's a phenomenon that's been growing since apple's iPod, the most renowned of the so-called MP3 players, first hit the technological stage in 2001.

    At the recent Winter Olympics, it seemed no hip snowboarder could be caught competing without one. Gold-medalist Hannah Teter listened to her boyfriend's band as she hit the slopes.

    And many new car stereos now come iPod-ready, a smart way to drive your iPod, as the promoters boast. As the technology has improved, the choices have grown. Users can download personal music play lists, so-called podcasts of news and information, including the NewsHour…


    You can download audio versions of our reports…


    … and a growing number of options of audio on demand.

    And now video. ABC and NBC struck deals this winter with Apple to sell iPod users episodes of some of their most popular programs, current hits like "Lost" and "Law & Order," as well as "Dragnet" and other vintage shows.

    So far, more than 15 million videos have been purchased at $1.99 each and downloaded from the Apple iTunes online music store. But music remains the dominant force, with over 1 billion songs downloaded from iTunes to Apple devices, such as the iPod and its smaller offspring, the Nano and the Shuffle.

  • JAMES KATZ, Rutgers University:

    People love the iPod and love other MP3 players because it allows them to create their own music environment, their own song of their life.


    James Katz runs the Center for Mobile Communications Studies at Rutgers University.


    Most people use them, of course, to listen to music. But like most aspects of human behavior, it doesn't exist in isolation. What's really important to a lot of people is how other people see them, whether they're — how they see them consuming music or walking down the street. And, therefore, something like the iPod is considered part of a personal statement.


    You mean a personal statement, as in who I am?


    Yes, who you are.


    For many scholars, the podification of society is just the latest chapter in a continuing story of technology and culture. Think of the remote control, the VCR, the Sony Walkman, and so much more, in which companies offer and people pursue ways to tailor, enjoy and control their environment.


    It's like having a $10,000 speaker system right there in your ear.