Recently I became the proud possessor of an iPod. Before I continue I shall get the definition of the word out of the way for the benefit of those who have spent the last decade on an extended adventure holiday in the middle of the Amazon jungle, as they will be probably be the only ones who don’t know what it is.
According to Dictionary.com, an iPod is ‘a trademarked class of portable digital audio players designed and marketed by Apple Computer.’ Catchy huh, and what a lousy definition…trademarked digital audio player? Don’t they realise that the iPod all but created the digital audio player market when it launched in 2001.
I well remember the launch of the iPod: it was an instant classic, something that was so cool, it’d give ice a chill if you left it close and, as with all cool things, it left me cold. I was not, never have been, and probably never will be cool, and tend not to be drawn to things that have to much of a coolness quotient.
My upbringing, including a school career at a boys grammar, led to me growing up in a world pretty much without cool. The acme of rebellion was to only show the stringy bit of your tie in lessons, and I really only got into close contact with cool when I reached university (or college as we called it, which was in fact slightly cooler.)
This was the first time that I’d had the opportunity to observe the cool tribe close up: the sort of people who bought clothes based on appearance, rather than their presence on the sale rack. The sort of people who ate things like lentils & houmus and who had album collections that stretched beyond the masterworks of Def Leppard.
Cool people seem to instinctively know which trends to follow, and which to avoid. This is probably why few of them are currently zooming round on Segways. They did however go for the iPod in a big way.
iPods, after their launch in 2001, became the instant must-have style accessory for cool people, who do things like go jogging without a court order. It suited their lifestyle down to the ground: an instant portable juke box, from which you could immediately erase any artist or album the moment they started to become uncool.
I remember reading an article about a new pick-up phenomena, called something like iSwapping, whereby the lucky few wearing the distinctive white headphones would recognise each other and would then plug into each others iPod to sample whatever music was playing. This was obviously another way of demonstrating just how cool, you, your iPod and your taste in music was.
It’s against a background like this, that my prejudice against iPods was formed. I might never have organised a ‘Ban the Pod!’ rally, but I felt that in my own small way, I was undermining the little white juke box.
I would speak disparagingly about the limitations of iTunes, or the greater probability of getting mugged if you’re spotted sporting white headphones. I would describe in detail at dinner parties the delights of such alternative products as the iRiver or the Sony Bean.
All this changed last Friday, when due to a freak competition victory I became the proud possessor of a 30 GB Video iPod. I was instantly hooked. All weekend I spent plugged in, downloading and charging up.
I became fascinated by the world of video podcasts, and the random probabilities of shuffled music. I even went to the gym with my new electronic friend.
The iPod is probably the coolest thing I have ever owned, but ownership has now probably become too widespread to be solely the province of the cool, and they shall most likely be moving onto something even more up to date shortly.
Have I learnt anything from experiences so far? Well I now know how to mix a few more drinks thanks to Tiki Bar TV. Cheers.