Apple Air

On the same day that Microsoft launches its iPod competitor, Zune, Apple announces a deal with six large airlines that will let passengers play video clips, movies and music from their iPods through in flight back seat displays. Apple is also looking to get car manufacturers to offer built-in ports in their vehicles. In the air, over land and no doubt by sea iPod is becoming the standard. Apple did what Microsoft couldn't do and this announcement yesterday rubbed it in. No matter what the fate of the Zune is, it is not likely to catch up to the 70 million (and growing) iPods now in use -- in the near future or perhaps ever. This device is bigger than Walkman ever was. My USC students called the Apple move a long time ago without having any privileged knowledge of Steve Jobs' intentions. You see, a lot of people doubt that small screen devices are as big a growth market as say MP3 music devices. But these doubters don't think like Gen Y. My students knew that the little screen on the iPod is just a convenience -- that the greater appeal is to use them to plug in to or wirelessly beam their contents onto a network of TVs placed everywhere in our world. Elevator and gas station screens (with ad content) are already here. What these students know that a lot of people don't get is that the beauty of the iPod is that it is a magnificent storage device for still pictures, audio files and video. The screen? Just a feature. Not the feature. So, as a result the iPod is becoming a sort of digital wallet in which to store everything precious to the next generation. It is another reminder of the iPods pervasiveness and the genius of Steve Jobs. Or put another way, an unfortunate reminder that big media companies and manufacturers have gone down for the count and that unlike Apple, they have little clue as to what makes this young generation click.