iPod Users: You Aren’t Special Anymore

by Gregory Ng Feb 04, 2005

iPods are everywhere! And white earbuds are in everyone’s ears. Apple is taking all of these iPodders (mostly PC users) straight to the bank: to the tune of $295 million dollars of net profit in the 4th quarter of 2004. Now marketshare just might be building. This is good right? Not if you’re a Mac user it’s not.

Almost 2 years ago, I wrote about what I called, the “iPod Nod of Approval.” This, I explained, was the friendly gesture I received from passersby signifying the experience we shared in owning iPods. That article was written after Apple’s announcement of the one millionth iPod sold. I wrote about a situation where, “When I see a fellow iPodder all of a sudden, my misgivings about whether they are PC users or not are thrown out the window. They are no longer an enemy, they are my brother or my sister in iPod Nation. Because they may have gray boxes at home and at work, but when it comes to their most personal time, they only trust the white and silver.”

That passage was from a different time where those who crossed battle lines to enjoy their iPod was a big deal. A time where you actually had respect for someone who made the leap to the Cult of Mac (Even if that leap only involved their iPod). The iPod Nod of Approval is sadly no longer a gesture of hope to mend the fences between PC and Mac users. After all, most of the masses who have purchased iPods since that first article are Winboxers. It’s now harder to find an actual Mac enthusiast sporting an iPod than it is a PC user. It doesn’t even warrant a nod anymore.

So what am I getting out of this deal? The price of iPods have not dropped since it’s inception. There is not a boom in third-party software due to this cross-platform domination. The best thing that I as an Apple user gets out of this situation is the comfort Apple won’t go out of business anytime soon. Oh and countless accessories but how many protective cases can you possibly use or need?

We, as Apple users, who have iPods, have lost our identity. In the past, Macheads have been able to band together to embrace our decisions to “think different”. And the early success of the iPod gave us a sense of pride. The fact that some early adopters included PC users was added gravy. At the time, I felt that, “IPod Nation can make a difference. We can spread the word about how great our music experiences are. We can promote the iPod to our PC and Mac friends alike. We can push Apple to continue to advance their technology to always remain on top with MP3 Players.”

Well MP3 has given way to AAC and Apple is still on top so why am I still worried? I am sick of frequently seeing people on the train listening to iPods and working on their ThinkPads. I’m fed up with friends and family members on PCs who are emailing me for iTunes troubleshooting.

When my beloved Red Sox won the World Series last year I admit, I had a concern that the idea of being a Red Sox fan was tainted. After all, for my entire life, being a Red Sox fan meant getting your hopes up and losing at the last minute. Before the iPod, being a Mac user meant having the knowledge that you were using a superior product despite it’s widespread use. Being that individual who went against the grain meant something. Would the iPod be enjoying as much success if Apple had not released iTunes for Windows. No. Not even close. But the widespread, cross-platform popularity of the iPod has made being a Mac user not so special anymore. Now the special people are the ones who use Creative Zens.


  • Think of the iPod as the “Bridge” drug.  Those PC users will awaken and see the light eventually.

    hmurchison had this to say on Feb 04, 2005 Posts: 145
  • It’s interesting to note how being different is ingrained in Apple’s identity.  This brings about problems when they start winning, in the case of the iPod for example.  What happens if the Mac Mini starts taking over the budget computer market?  It’s good for Apple, but it also ruins part of its appeal. 

    Jonathan Pichot had this to say on Feb 04, 2005 Posts: 1
  • “In the past, Macheads have been able to band together to embrace our decisions to ‘think different’.”

    Thinking different is what Windows users do when they try to use their computers.  Most likely that’s why the Think Different campaign was a failure. It confused people. It also confused Mac users who thought that they themselves were special and unique because of a product they used.

    If you want to be different and part of an elite group, try doing something on your own to set yourself apart.  Relying on a product to define your differentness and elite status will only result in disappointment with yourself.

    Whining about how you don’t think you’re special anymore is pure drivel.

    DF in Boston had this to say on Feb 04, 2005 Posts: 15
  • It seems to me that the PC users are the switchers, and the one “thinking different.” And now we MacHeads will have to rein in our pride. We weren’t so smart after all, we were just the first lemmings over the cliff, and now the debris of the PC users will fall over us like, well, you know.

    Not only is the essay about wounded pride, but that is also what Apple is selling more and more. They aren’t just technology company, they want to be cool(er.) You can’t be cool without an iPod? You can’t be cool with one? For shame.

    I thought it was just a portable hard-drive. Insanely great. But there will always be something better.

    Steve Consilvio had this to say on Feb 04, 2005 Posts: 47
  • Self-pity is a narcotic. And some where I knew, in the back of my mind, that Boston Red Sox fans would lament their loss of their loser status.

    You must not have known, as it was the talk over every major league city other than Boston, it was the obligation of every team in baseball to keep the Red Sox unique by beating them in the World Series or at least knocking them off in the playoffs (this terrible burden fell heavily on the Yankees ever since the acquired el Bambino) and just so, it is the burden of PC users to remain stone stupid so that Mac users can be unique and special.

    America is a nation of people who indulge in their self-pity—its the pity-Nation. Just imagine not being able to live in a country where we could not kvitch all the time about things like this!

    DoctorRich had this to say on Feb 04, 2005 Posts: 2
  • Hmmm… I usually kind of like what you write. But now I am reading the same stupid thinking Harley riders excel at.

    Using a product doesn’t make you think different. That only happens when you actually think different.

    I wouldn’t be surprised you own a HD bike so people can see you riding it (clumsily), just as you use your iPod to belong to a “brotherhood”.

    hukes had this to say on Feb 06, 2005 Posts: 1
  • Any real MacFan knows what Gregory Ng is talking about. When I meet someone who also owns a Mac we share the same experience. Everybody around us uses the same Wintel boxes, but we made a choice. This mean we aren’t talking about our computers as problems, about virusses, etc. There is a whole cultere among college’s at work talking about PC problems and how smart they are and how cheap they bought this or that. It’s like talking about the soap’s.
    Now these people who never made a choose to use “our” platform use an iPod. The iPod really changed the way I relate to other Apple product owners.
    But I don’t mind. Because it’s just a matter of feeding the masses. And this time Apple is feeding them!

    Michel had this to say on Feb 06, 2005 Posts: 5
  • As a Windows user with an iPod who considers herself very computer-savvy, I hate to break it to you, but for the most part, PC users are unlikely to make the jump.


    Because Mac doesn’t support anything.

    And you’ve made the biggest reason painfully clear—MacHeads are elitist. They are possibly the most elitist group out there, right behind old-school U2 fans.

    Seriously, though. When people see my with my iPod (with non-iPod headphones, as the earbuds caused me great physical pain, and I don’t like pain unless there is more leather involved) they eventually ask me what is my platform, and I tell them Windows XP and Windows 2000. And if they are PC users, they nod. If they are Maccers, I get The Look. The Look of Superiority.

    Do I like the flaws of Microsoft? No, I don’t. I hate them, in fact. I hate the sudden crashes, the cryptic error messages (but no more cryptic than a single folder with a flashing exclamation point!). But I use Mozilla, and I use the best programs to almost completely eliminate those problems, and I get to use all my favorite programs that otherwise I would not be able to use properly on a Mac.

    Until Mac can support the things that I love, I refuse to make the switch, no matter how much it will endear me to the 2% of the population that sports iBooks. I’ll pick functionality over aesthetics any day.

    And I know how you feel about the Red Sox. Amen, brother.

    Megan had this to say on Feb 06, 2005 Posts: 1
  • the other thing he fails to realize is not all winbox users primarily use windoze.  some of us use that crazy linux as well.

    you know.
    the one you actually have to know how to PROGRAM for?

    i think id take some light c++ compilations or a windows control panel menu than the stupid ass chooser any day.

    maybe im biased because the first computer i ever owned was a mac.  a 75 mhz power pc.  i wanted to kill it with all my human flesh.  did it do anything worthwhile except type papers?

    hell no.

    macs are pretty, well made, and have nice functionality for SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS.

    unfortunately, these applications do not stretch far past what i could do with a 166mhz linux box if i wanted to make a server or do on my winbox if i want to use photoshop or edit and create my own movies.

    oh wait, shouldnt i have viruses?

    no.  because im not an idiot who doesnt know how to use my own equipment.  i use firefox, adaware, norton, and i dont go to websites that will infect my pc with useless b.s.

    yes there are millions of idiot pc users, but for every drooling cro-magnon idiot who thinks he’s superior for using a mac theres a kid who knows his stuff on a windows machine.

    we are the few, the proud, the kids who dont mess up their windows boxes frequently.

    and if no one else remembers, i get stupid errors and crashes all the time using that stupid macintosh.

    seriously, the chooser must die.
    one port for modem and printer?
    how practical is that.

    apple is only recently making the move to well made sleek hardware, and i will agree with that wholeheartedly, i love what they are doing.

    but there is nothing ‘different’ about it.  its about how to use it and what you need it for.  im talking function, not fashion.

    i bet you dont even listen to good music on your ipod.

    creed and linkin park suck.

    bah, im done even talking about this.  you make good posts until this one.  stop waxing poetic and get down the computer science.

    bob cock had this to say on Feb 06, 2005 Posts: 3
  • As a Macintosh user with an iPod who considers himself very computer-savvy, I hate to break it to you, but for the most part, Mac users are unlikely to make the jump.


    Because PC doesn’t support anything.

    And you’ve made the biggest reason painfully clear—PCHeads think there are no alternatives.
    What’s the movie “Der Untergang” and you know what I mean.

    I am serious!.

    Until the PC can support the things that I love, like Final Cut Pro, Motion, DVD Studio Pro, Logic, I refuse to make the switch, no use in torturing myself. I’ll demand functionality and aesthetics any day.

    BTW I mean Windows PC users. Linux is a nice atlernative, not a criminal organization like MS.

    Michel had this to say on Feb 07, 2005 Posts: 5
  • The following is my bloglike complaint about this article: Mac had a valid argument for being superior before Windows XP. As much as I hate to admit it, XP works. I count the number of times I crash by year.


    Ng seems to consider this cultural shift a problem. I think one could argue he’s being a snob. Mac users have always seemed to need to be different in order to establish their identity to me. Ipod means living in a world of music, and that’s a good thing.

    I’ve also been stunned by the increased number of Ipod users, but see the shift as remarkably positive. You can ignore the music industry all together and live in your own world.

    The whole Mac/PC war seems very pre-millennial.

    Mistress Nine had this to say on Feb 08, 2005 Posts: 2
  • If you’re worried about the Red Sox Nation actually achieving something now that they’ve won the series, you can always join us on the Cubs bandwagon. 97 years… and counting.

    Keith Sheehan had this to say on Feb 09, 2005 Posts: 11
  • The Cubs win the world series? That should NOT happen, will not happen otherwise the universe would have to realign.

    Oh gawd, am I sick already of platform wars… that is too tired, cut and parry for mental morons and a pointless nillistic waste of time. WHAT IS MOST ANNOYINNG is hearing people talk without knowing about that which they speak. For instance, that Mac don’t support a wide spectrum of specific applications—this is someone not in possession of knowledge and they should not open their mouths and speak. These idiot observations all makes a person want to YAWN! Gain some intelligence before you speak! You’ll be doing us all a favor but mostly yourself.

    DoctorRich had this to say on Feb 21, 2005 Posts: 2
  • “...The best thing that I as an Apple user gets out of this situation is the comfort Apple won’t go out of business anytime soon. Oh and countless accessories but how many protective cases can you possibly use or need?”...

    Actually, the best iPod accessory is not a protective case (lame), it is software: MPFreaker 1.0 (http://www.mpfreaker.com) But as you are leaning towards the darkside and MPFreaker is only available to Mac users, you are SOL mah fren!

    In platform wars, to be fair, it must be said that PC’s are cheap and provide internet access. If however you have evolved (at all…hello?) you must have a Mac. No question. No bias. Truth.

    bren had this to say on Feb 22, 2005 Posts: 1
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