4.1.2. iTunes & iPod
4. Case Studies of Digital Piracy in Various Sectors
4.1. Music Industry
4.1.2. iTunes & iPod
4.2. Motion Picture Industry
What is iTunes?
iTunes is a free software application for both Macintosh and Windows introduced by Apples Inc. on 9 January 2001. Not only this application is a music player but is as many other functions including a built-in visualizer and CD burner, an internet radio player, a media organizer, an iPod companion and a music store all built into a single, easy-to-use application.
iTunes began life as an MP3 player program called SoundJam MP. It was distributed by Casady & Greene and was written by Jeff Robbin, Bill Kincaid, and Dave Heller. Apple made a deal with the developers and publisher in 2000 to build iTunes from the SoundJam MP foundation. Once iTunes was formally launched, new versions with new features and support for new iPod models came out very frequently until now.
What is iPod?
iPod is a small portable music player developed by Apple and it allow users to transfer songs to their iPod with their computer, iTunes, and the iPod software. Since the release of the Apple iPod in 2001, under the iPod brand, Apple has released many variations of its product such as the iPod classic, iPod Touch, iPod Shuffle, iPod Mini, iPod Nano and several spin-off devices such as the iPod Photo.
One man that could be named the father of the iPod is Tony Fadell. Tony Fadell was a former employee of General Magic and Phillips who wanted to invent a better MP3 player. Tony Fadell found support for his project with Apple Computers in 2001 as an independent contractor, leading a team of thirty people to develop the new MP3 player.
Popularity of iTunes and iPod
There are several factors that contribute to iTune's success which include its marketing strategies, the design, the iTunes Music Store and its strategic timing. However, the main factor would be the iTunes Music Store. Apple's unprecedented success from its maiden attempt to sell music on the Internet meant that the company managed to sell over two million songs in its first few weeks online. Given that only people with Macintosh computers running later versions of OS X could buy songs from Apple's iTunes Music Store, this is an illustration on how Apple managed to get its business model right and consider if the approach can be applied to market other products.
The idea of selling music through the Internet is not new, and the necessary components are simply:
- A compatible software
- A PC with a CD burner connected to the Internet
A business model that consumers were willing to accept was the only nonexistent yet crucial component. True to its corporate slogan, "Think different," Apple tried marketing music on the Internet in an original way, and it worked. Previous attempts at selling music on the Internet were mainly based on a subscription service model and used proprietary formats. The recording industry was overenthusiastic in implementing copy protection schemes, hence the public was reluctant in patronizing them. One of the commercial music services not only prevented consumers from burning CD's of music they downloaded, but it also required consumers to pay a monthly fee in order to keep listening to music they had already downloaded. This ultimately made it impossible for consumers to collect their own music copies and only renting was allowed.
Apple was the first major business company to understand that consumers want music purchased on the Internet to have the same properties as music they bought at say, a CD store. These days that means portability and consumers want to be capable of making MP3 files, CDs or even cassettes of the music they purchase. So, Apple created a system allows consumers to buy individual songs for 99 cents each, or whole albums for ten dollars. Once downloaded, consumers can easily burn a CD, provided their Mac has a CD burner.
The core of the Apple approach is based on its iTunes player, which is a digital music player alike WinAmp, Windows Media Player or RealPlayer. All of these play standard music CDs, MP3s and Internet radio station airwaves. Apple added a music store option which integrates into the player and displays as a convenient separate list. The Apple iTunes Music Store can be used to search for any song according to artist name, song title or album title. First-time users will need to create an account and supply it with a credit card number. From that time on, a person can purchase songs simply by clicking on the "Buy Me" button in the song list. It is also possible to listen to the first 30 seconds of the song to preview it, which requires a high-speed connection to work properly.
Apple's only limitation with iTunes is that burning more than 10 CDs with the same playlist is prohibited. This effectively prevents people from using the Mac to mass produce a title for commercial marketing. Most users naturally would not exceed that kind of limitation but the user can download only a few songs that they want and create a CD combining the iTunes tracks with a few of the songs downloaded earlier. If the user were to use iTunes to buy the singles he wanted than to purchase several CD just to get a single favorite on each, the user will eventually save money.
Apple provided a fluidly combined system that required minimal effort on the part of the consumer. More importantly, Apple provided a product with features familiar to consumers and at the same time, sells music instead of renting it. Apple did not try to manipulate the situation to coerce consumers to give up rights they were used to having, and in turn consumers are grateful for it.
The timing was a crucial and deciding factor as well. Napster was facing legal challenges around this period, and many people starting sourcing out for alternatives. With the very real threat of facing legal hurdles, people are seeking legal means of acquiring music online. With intensive advertising, many people, especially those who are not very tech-savvy began to pick up iTunes. With the launch of the iPod just a few months later, iTunes became very popular.
The success of Apple's iPod is closely related to iTunes as both were not only introduced in the same year, but they were also closely tied to each another. The success of iPod is widely dependent on its design, but marketing and timing were crucial and strategic factors as well.
The design of iPod is very simple- five buttons, and the later generations have the buttons integrated into the click wheel, an innovation which provides an uncluttered and minimalist interface. The buttons perform basic functions such as play and next track. Other operations such as scrolling through the menu and adjusting the volume are performed by rotating the click wheel. This simple design caught the attention of many, especially those not particularly tech-savvy.
The iPod is the first MP3 player to lucratively market the technology. It contains a small hard disk that has the ability to store large amounts of MP3 files, which at that time, were popular with many people. The capability of storing large amounts of MP3 files, together with its small, light-weight size were one of iPod's big selling points. Another selling point was the iTunes Music Store. The ease of buying and downloading songs online and subsequently transferring them into the iPod made both the iTunes and iPod very popular.
Apple's iPod also initiated a successful advertising campaign comprising magazine and television advertisements focusing on the target market (teenagers and young adults). The advertisements featured dark silhouettes dancing against brightly-coloured backgrounds, backed by music. The silhouettes are holding iPods and listening to them with Apple's supplied earphones as well. iPod also used a direct method to induce customers to purchase their products by offering any iPod accessory per customer for half the value price with every purchase of a new iPod. This method allowed the business to directly measure the success of the campaign by observing the sales rate of the promotional tool.
Another interesting development resulting from the iPod is the development of podcasts. What is a Podcast? A Podcast is an audio program broadcasted over the Internet. It differs from traditional Internet radio in that it is pre-recorded. It also does not involve streaming, which makes it possible for Internet users to select which podcasts they wish to listen to and download them into their iPod. The iPod is uniquely positioned for these products, due to its storage capacity.
The impact on Music Industry
iTunes revolutionized the way people pick music, a far cry from the days of albums and even CDs. It provided people with a fast, reliable and easy way to get the songs they wanted and when they wanted it. The iPod has definitely revolutionized the way that we listen to music.
The iPod is popular for many reasons; it has an absolutely massive storage capacity, with some models able to carry as many as 10,000 individual songs at one time. It is remarkably simple to use, with intuitive controls, and fits in a shirt pocket. But popularity aside, the iPod also has started a revolution in the music and technology industry. How has the iPod affected musical consumption by mass culture?
Listening of music by the masses has become a touchy subject in the last decade, as technology for digital music extended into the home. Suddenly, anyone with a CD drive could store the contents of their Audio CDs on their computer for easy listening. All in all, this was not much cause for concern. It wasn't until CD burners became widespread and high-speed Internet connections became the norm that the music industry became alarmed. Napster, one of the first peer-to-peer file sharing programs, made its debut in 1999, much to the chagrin of the music industry. Within two years of its launch, Napster had over 30 million users sharing countless millions of files, illegally from the viewpoint of the Recording Industry Association of America. Portable MP3 players were breaking into the market. Now, users could upload their illegal tunes from their computers into their iPods. Napster was shut down in 2002 after a lawsuit from the RIAA, but the digital music revolution had begun.
There have been many portable media players over the last few years, but the iPod stands out as an icon, and has changed the way we obtain music. Apple was one of the last companies to introduce a portable media player, but they were the first to deliver both a portable music player and jukebox software (New York Times Magazine 2003). Users can plug their iPod into their computer, and load songs directly from their iTunes jukebox software to the iPod. iTunes also boasts the iTunes Music Store with half a million songs available at $0.99 per song, and even lower prices with the purchase of an entire album. Apple has uniquely positioned itself for the digital music industry. It produces the hardware, software, and sells songs at low prices to put in the hardware it sold. Apple now leads the portable digital music player market, with a 31% market share for iPod and the iTunes Music Store hosting 70% of all legal music downloads (Teather 2005). With such a large market share, it is not surprising that the iPod is having such a large impact.
A lecturer in Media and Culture at the University of Sussex (Britain), Dr. Michael Bull, originally studied the social impact of the Sony Walkman, but has begun to conduct extensive research on the impact of the iPod. Bull notes that many people use the iPod during commutes, and often listen to the same songs at the same point in their journey. For Bull, this is a prime example of the iPod putting the user back in control.
- It gives them control of the journey, the timing of the journey, and the space they are moving through. It's a generalization, but the main use of the iPod is control. People like to be in control. They are controlling their space, their time, and their interaction, and having a good time at it. That cannot be understated -- it gives them a lot of pleasure. (Bull in Kahney 2005)
Bull notes that the iPod controls interaction with others as well, enabling users to look at others but not return the look. Bull calls this "non-reciprocal looking" (Bull in Kahney 2005). The iPod also has brought on a new music-sharing realm, but not in the sense of leaving a copy of the song with others. Being able to carry your music collection with you wherever you go means that users can always play their tunes for their friends. This concept has been developed further into iParties, where music is provided by iPods instead of traditional music media. Young people come together and use their diverse musical tastes to select two tracks for the party from a huge repertoire.
Of numerous iPod users that Bull interviewed, half of them download music illegally. They spend their money on the iPod itself, what Bull calls the "artifact" instead of on the music. He predicts that the market is moving toward the artifact, and away from the music that fills it:
- With vinyl, the aesthetic was in the cover of the record. You had the sleeve, the artwork, the liner notes. With the rise of digital, the aesthetic has left the object - the record sleeve - and now the aesthetic is in the artifact: the iPod, not the music. (Bull in Levin 2004)
This has caused the masses to embrace the idea of downloading music off the Internet, legally or illegally. It has changed the way how people acquire music and have raised expectations of the way people obtain music. Although iTunes is not involved in music piracy, but it has help to change the mindset of the masses regarding music piracy as more people demand to be in more control of the music they obtain.
1. "#1 Temporal Loop - History of iTunes and iPod." The iPod Observer. The iPod Observer.
2. Meyer, J. (August 29, 2006). iTunes Inspires Changes in Music Industry. In Apple Matters. Retrieved November 14, 2008, from
3. Fisher, K. (September 20, 2005). Jobs calls music industry greedy. In ars technica the art of technology. Retrieved November 14, 2008, from
4. Eqan, R. (July 2, 2007). iPod's Impact on Modern Culture. In suite101.com. Retrieved November 14, 2008, from
5. Kahney, L. (February 25, 2004). Bull Session With Professor IPod. In WIRED. Retrieved November 14, 2008, from