FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Stereo Systems: Yet Another Victim of iPod Disruption

Music purchased on physical media (CD, tapes, etc.) apparently isn't the only technology that the iPod is disrupting:

Indeed, by plugging the iPod into a pair of speakers, many people are dispensing with a traditional home hi-fi set up altogether. The sound quality isn't as good (purists say), but it's good enough, and for many - perhaps most - of us the gain in control and simplicity easily outweighs the disadvantages. So the iPod signals the end of another, if less malign, producer tyranny - hi-fi manufacturers beware...

One lesson is the importance of using the right medium, and executing it properly. The iPod is a textbook example of getting applications - for playing, organising and buying music - to work seamlessly together through the net without dropping you between the gaps. The second is simplicity. The more complicated the product, the harder it has to work to make you love it. A large part of the iPod's appeal is how easy it is to use - put another way, the fact that nothing gets between you and what you want from it.

Long ago, complicated tape decks, turntables, equalizers and amplifiers -- all driving sound through massive speakers -- were the ultimate status symbols for audiophiles. Indeed, their size and complexity (embodying everything the iPod is not) was a large part of their appeal. Then "boom boxes" (remember those) made music portable, simpler and more controllable. Today, the PC/laptop, coupled with the MP3 player, has displaced the hi-fi system for the most part.

Sources: Guardian, Emergic