However, Sony, which was ahead of Apple in personal music playback with the Walkman, made the biggest mistake in history by failing to invent a device like the iPod.
In 1979, the Sony Walkman personal music player was born, shocking people with its compact size and new headphones. Within 3 months, the sales of Walkman reached 30,000 units, and the whole line was “out of stock”. Sony distances itself from the following competitors. A decade later, Sony’s Walkman’s market share in the U.S. and Japan remained at 50 percent and 46 percent, respectively, albeit around $20 more.
In the late 1990s, tape began to give way to new music formats (CD and MP3 files). The global electronics industry predicts that CDs will soon be as extinct as magnetic tapes. Who will be the first to launch an MP3 player and become the next “pedestrian”.
In 1998, the South Korean company Sahan Information Systems made the first portable digital music player called MPMan. It sold 50,000 units worldwide in its first year. When the iPod was released in 2001, there were about 50 MP3 players in the US, but none were as successful as the Walkman.
MP3 is completely different from Walkman and cassette tape. You can’t buy MP3 files in physical stores. Downloading an album online (whether legal or illegal) can take hours. If MP3 and broadband weren’t popular, then MP3 players wouldn’t be popular. But the iPod changed all that, even though Apple was a latecomer.
Apple waited for the right moment. The iPod’s recipe for success sounds simple: sleek, modern design combined with smart software. The late Apple founder Steve Jobs understood that if you only depended on the device itself, the iPod was just a trash can. He understood that for the device to be valuable, the MP3 player ecosystem needed to come together. In October 2001, when Apple introduced the iPod, both MP3 and broadband became popular.
The first-generation iPod cost $399 and had 5GB of memory that could store up to 1,000 songs. It has an easy-to-use interface and is very lightweight. The iPod’s real value lies in its iTunes music management software. Although it’s only available to Mac users, the iPod remains the best-selling MP3 player of all time. In April 2003, Apple launched the iTunes Music Store, an online music library where customers could browse and buy music for 99 cents per song or $9.99 per album. As of the end of 2009, apply
During the 2004 holiday season, portable CD players still sold more than twice as many MP3 players, according to NPD. However, between the third quarter of 2004 and the third quarter of 2005, iPod sales increased. 616%. In 2008, Apple had a 48 percent share of the MP3 player market, well ahead of its closest competitor, SanDisk’s Sansa (8 percent).
The iPod is a great product that not many can deny. After all, Apple is 3 years behind the competition, but their timing is welcome. Like the iPhone, Steve Jobs often worked later than everyone else because he wanted everything to be ready. In 2008, talking about embracing tech waves, he said that we often see new waves before they actually happen and must choose wisely which one to go to. “If you don’t choose carefully, it takes a lot of energy, but if you choose carefully, it happens fairly slowly, often over a period of years.” His discipline paid off. In the 3-year gap between MPMan and the iPod, every element of the MP3 player ecosystem has matured. So instead of waiting for a red light like everyone else and wasting precious time and resources, Apple chose the time when the red light turned green and aimed for victory. As The Economist puts it, the iPod has become “the Walkman of the early 21st century.”