The iPod, Cell Phone and How Not to Suck 04.18.2006
About a week ago, I was subjecting Bethany to one of my regular rants. I am normally a pretty laid back guy but every fortnight or so I get a bugger up my bum to hop up on the nearest soapbox and start spouting on about some topic. On this particular occasion it was about what I believe will be the “Next Big Thing”. This is a million dollar opportunity to anyone with the power, influence or skill. So if anyone like that is reading, take out your notepad.
Here we have (via: Digg) a You Tube video of the launch of the original iPod. I remember seeing it at the time and just being floored by it. I wanted one immediately. Not just because of the Apple-flavored-kool-aid drinking fanboy that I was am. I got it. I understood right away was this meant. Although there were many at the time who were saying things like “I don’t understand what the big deal is. There are other hard drive MP3 players out there way better than that.” I responded with “Yes. But this is the first one you can actually use!”
What made the iPod different was the interface. Anyone could just pick it up and get right away how to get the music on the device (plug it into your Mac and let iTunes do the rest) and then how to navigate the interface. Kids, grandmas and geeks – anyone could just pick it up and “get” it. That was huge! Remember the other options? Having to use Musicmatch and Rio or some such thing. It sucked. The iPod just plain works. It doesn’t suck.
I believe I was number 3 in line once the Apple Store opened at Mall of America and I had my checkbook in hand. A revolution had begun and I did not want to be one of the guys drinking the tea. Now I, like millions of others around the world, use my iPod daily. I listen to podcasts and music and store files and look up contacts. It is indispensable.
Here is where to start taking notes… Mark my word, the person/people/multimillondollar corporation that comes up with a cell phone that is as easy to use and sync data to as the iPod will rule that market like Apple does with the iPod. Just like the music player market at the time the iPod was introduced, there are hundreds of cell phones… And they all suck! The ones that suck less are so crippled by the carriers, even for the most logical of data transfers (what do you mean I can’t sync over Bluetooth!?!), that they might as well not even offer the feature. Not to mention I have yet to see a cell phone interface that is intuitive and easy to navigate. I mean, it took me a half hour to find out how to assign voice recording to a button on my Verizon cheap piece of crap phone. And I am a fairly savvy tech guy. This is a market that is ripe for someone to come in and make a device that does not suck. Just like the iPod, it does not have to have larger storage or do anything functionally different than what any cell phone can now do. It just has to do it better. I just has to not suck.