The iPod Platform

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-01-13 Print this article Print

—Apples Ticket to Ride the iConomy"> What Jobs is selling is the iPod platform—the gateway to the iConomy. For Apple, the iPod represents a route around the Macs 5 percent mass market share. The new platform has already captured 30 percent of the music player market, and the iTunes content downloading owns a 70 percent share. But think about it: What percentage of iPod owners have jobs or are self-employed—or will be in the near future? Try 100 percent. Its the iConomy at work. If you capture the mobile version of shelf space—the belt holster or the arm clip if youre a runner—you become a dominant purveyor of services. The iPod is the razor for the prized 18-to-49 crowd, the repository for the largest discretionary income pool in history. The more blades you sell, the more razors.
Here Microsofts 30 hardware partners work against the software giant. As they try to differentiate from direct competitors, they fragment the market and marketing messages Apple excels in delivering with style and elegance.
By contrast, Jobs gets away with maintaining his margins with the new iPod mini by extending the iPod platform with a new design that delivers the same user interface already accepted as the standard. This proved irresistible to Carly Fiorina, who, like Al Gore with Howard Dean, cant lose. By endorsing the iPod, HP hitches a ride to an explosively viral constituency—with powerful ties to another powerful market group, cell phone users. Carly gets Apples R&D budget for free, cachet with the artists, writers, filmmakers and other creative types that produce billions in free media exposure. And HP vaults from No. 2 in the PC market to co-leader in the mobile music space, tying the two platforms together in the process. For Apple, HP represents a channel with which to extend their iPod platform—to video via Intel HDTV chips, to phones via Bluetooth and WiFi mesh networks—and to the content industries via a new release platform of videophones, RSS-routed mobile storage and Rendezvous-sharing peer farms on the desktop. I can already see the name of the HP personal video player: the eyePod. Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum Messaging & Collaboration Center Editor Steve Gillmor can be reached at

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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