Originally written for eVent! [ep] magazine on 09/14/06.
Apple Computers is a company that is very much burdened by their own success. With the iPod and iTunes store Apple has revolutionized the way people listen to their music. Aside from the internet I consider the iPod the technological development in my life time that has most changed the way I live. As a music lover I used to have to carry around a big book of CDs every time I left the house, now all I need is a slender pocket sized iPod and I've got all the music that I own stuffed onto a 60 gig hard drive.
So how many times can one company revolutionize an industry? Apple did it twice with the world of computers, first with the Apple II the first real personal computer and then with the original Macintosh. However since the iPod was released the changes in the device have been evolutionary and not revolutionary. Video was added last year, the introduction of Podcasting into iTunes allowed the newborn medium to take off and there have been minor updates but fundamentally the iPod remains the iPod.
Which is not a bad thing. The iPod remains the easiest music player to use. While it might lack some feature of other players, the combination of ease of use and the magnificent iTunes software make it by far the best choice to house your tunes. However with each new version of the iPod there are countless disappointed fans who were wanting for so much more.
A perfect example of this iPod let down was this last Tuesday, when Apple brought out a few new devices. Apple fans and iPod enthusiasts had spent months speculating on what Apple CEO Steve Jobs might release at the September 12th press conference. The more industrious of them had created fake images with Photoshop showing widescreen iPods with a futuristic touch screen interface. When nothing of the sort was revealed disappointment flowed around the internet like tears at a poorly planned children's birthday party. Instead the 5th Generation Video iPod got a slightly brighter screen, gapless playback and a new search function.
What is exciting however is the overhaul to iTunes with the release of iTunes 7 on the same day. Apple's media management software is what puts the tunes on the iPod and allows your computer to be a centralized repository of movies, television shows and songs. The new version of iTunes has a jukebox like album view called CoverFlow, gapless playback and the ability to load games onto the iPod. It's slick and designed, as only Apple seems to be able to make these things. Again it's not a giant leap forward, but it's so wonderfully designed that it makes just flipping through your music collection fun.
Potentially the biggest announcements of the day were that Apple was now selling feature film downloads through iTunes. While the films are only available in the United States at the moment, the idea of buying movies through the computer and watching them on that same computer could potentially change the way we watch movies. The movies, just one more industry for Apple to revolutionize.