The iPad is to tablets what the iPod was to MP3 players. I think that's safe to say now, right? I mean, here we are again with Apple churning out a runaway hit that defies logical, practical buying habits and ranks up there with cultural phenomena like Beanie Babies and Snuggies.
Still, when I hear people compare the iPad's success with the iPod's, something doesn't sit quite right with me. As someone who lived through the iPod wars and spent an unhealthy amount of time analyzing them, I feel obligated to drill past the superficial similarities of the iPod and iPad eras, and really see if they're as similar as we think.
So let's take a trip down memory lane, look at the iPod wars for what they really were, and see if history is really repeating itself.
As many of you know, Apple wasn't the first company to make an MP3 player or a tablet. By the time the iPod came on the scene in 2001, products like the MPman had already been on the market for three years. The market was small, though, and only early adopters and die-hard music nuts were scooping them up. To Apple's credit, it was the first large company to really step into the MP3 player space (far ahead of its biggest competitor at the time, Microsoft).
When the iPod arrived, it didn't offer the most features or the best price, but it did include what was then an enviable 5GB capacity. It also featured a design that was so unlike anything else out there (including portable CD players, which still defined the era), that it felt like some precious gift from the future.… Read more