The press releases and headlines started emerging yesterday as Apple officially announced that it had sold over 100 million iPods. For any product that is a milestone, let alone one that has only been on the market for five years and has played a major role in dramatically shifting the modern media landscape.
So, with this milestone, the question that begs for an answer is; “What is the Significance of the iPod for PR & Marketing.” Clearly, the iPod has made it much easier for us to carry with us hundreds, if not thousands, of tracks and artists in the size of something smaller than that of a CD. That’s obvious, for that matter so is the fact that the dynamics of the music industry have shifted dramatically. You need not look any further than the vacant building that I recently walked by, which was once known as the world’s largest music store, Tower Records in New York’s East Village. Instead of showcasing new artists and keeping their many specialty sections fully stocked, today that space sits empty waiting for a new tenant. Not only has the iPod reshaped the music retail market, its now starting to encroach on the retail video market and it will be interesting to see what Apple’s impact in the developing on-line video market.
In addition to changing the obvious, the iPod & iTunes have shifted how we communicate. For example, we used to make a mix tape to share with our friends, today we make an iMix (as of this writing there are over 1,086,645 iMixes in iTunes); if we were considering whether to watch one movie or the other we would read the back of a VHS box that sat on a shelf at our local video rental store, instead today we read peer reviews before downloading that program directly in iTunes. Similarly, as communicators, PR and Marketing professionals we often think in terms of reaching our target audiences with tools such as satellite media tours, print interviews, and local events. However, with the sale of the 100 millionth iPod we are reminded that these new technologies have created and established an entirely new channel that is equally important and perhaps more powerful for reaching the public with our messages via Podcasting.
While the iPod and Podcasting are independent of one another (a fact that it is often over looked is that one does not need an iPod to consume a Podcast) similar to the way in which we now share commentaries on music and movies, there is an opportunity for organizations to share insights and information with niche audiences through the power of Podcasting. So for communicators everywhere, I celebrate the sale of the 100 Millionth iPod for its significance and symbolism of today’s evolving media landscape and the opportunities it creates for our profession to tell our stories in new, unique, and engaging ways.