My wife asked me a while ago: "When the iPod came out, you mocked it extensively, saying it was a stupid waste of money that did things only a litte better what CD players that were MP3-cd enabled did. Have your feelings changed?"
Yes. This is due to many factors:
1. When the original iPod came out, it was 4, 6 or 10 Gig for $399. That's crazy-stupid high, especially considering my/our idiot-techie-crap disposable income budget at the time. Now, it's $199 for 60 gig.
2. The alternate uses for it have become more obvious. At that time, I didn't know how a simple 256 megabyte USB flash drive would make my life better in almost every way. The idea of a bigger storage space to haul around? Awesome.
3. It's cool-looking. The pictures didn't do it justice, and since I don't haunt Best Buy and don't lurk in the music section of stores in general, I didn't see it. In the stores, they're bolted down with all kinds of anti-theft bars. Holding one in your hand is like holding a tiny, perfect baby bunny rabbit.
4. It's become apparent that the UI and overall ergonomics is improved. Jeff Atwood over at Coding Horror once said that making something 10% easier will double your market share.
5. Enough of my hipster friends got them that I think of it as a reasonable accessory now.
6. There are more price points, now that there's a Shuffle. Also, the Shuffle matches exactly how I listened to mp3s at my old job using my work laptop, minus the work laptop.
7. I installed iTunes and used it. There are some things I don't like, and there's a certain something I can't put my finger on. It's "good enough" software, q.v. the Rise of Worse is Better. Also, I don't have a huge music library, so there's no danger of me encountering the iTunes crazy-huge music library problems. Windows Media Player's blue-on-black default scheme angers me, as does the link to buy music from the Wal-Mart Music Store.
8. I purchased one song from iTunes, so I see how handy that could be for a single person with money to spend and who didn't mind having to re-rip the file before having an mp3, universally accepted as the music format for non-weenies everywhere.
9. Bittorrent has changed how I look at file sharing in general. I'm not stealing music - I'm using it to get linux distros and public-domain works, BUT I can tell that there's a huge number of giant torrents full of entire discographies. The fact that less-skeevy filesharing is out there means I can visualize the average non-crazy person having a music library on their computer and accumulating enough music to appreciate an iPod.
10. Computers got faster, and hard drive space got cheaper. A few years ago, I had a 30 gig hard drive, with maybe 15 mp3's on it (an album of Sneaker Pimps remixes and the two Tae Kwan Leap sketches by The Frantics). Today, I have a 160 gig hard drive, with another 80 gig hard drive on the table next to it, waiting to be installed. My collection of music ripped from my CDs has likewise grown.
made it seem not retarded to buy used CDs, and the idea of buying music NOT online fell away completely.
12. My overall salary increased by almost 200%. Our total household income increased by over 300%.
13. We networked our computers, and I got over my fear of swapping/adding hard drives.
14. My physical CD purchases slowed to almost nothing, so the idea of ripping everything I buy seems much less onerous now.
15. Oh, yeah, and CD-ROM drives are now 10-40 times faster.
16. Oh, yeah, and burning software became cheaper or even FREE, depending on what you like. Also, they got better. Also, the music databases work better.
17. Oh, yeah, and blank CDs now cost 1/20th of what they cost when I was making that comparison.
18. I have a full-time job now where I COULD listen to an iPod, if I so desired.
20. Macs stopped being so goddamn pricey (I remember when you couldn't get a Mac for under $3000. At that time I was bitching about the iPod, you couldn't get a Mac for under $1899.)
21. Vista seems determined to drive normal people out of computing.
22. I started using WMP instead of WinAmp. I stopped fighting The Man and just used whatever was at hand.
23. My car stereo STILL won't play burned CDs and is becoming flaky about playing normal CDs, so the idea of buying a good digital music player and integrating it into my car makes a little more sense.
24. We bought a house, then refinanced to a lower interest rate, so I can't think of an iPod as half-a-year's-principal any more.
25. I got older, and so did my friends. I'm less of a judgmental firebrand now.