The iPod Economy

I am impelled (or possibly compelled) to ask, when did we enter an iPod based economy? Over the past year or so, I've noticed a gradual trend in the economy in which all goods and services are gradually becoming replaced by iPods.

It all started in terms of incentives: suddenly, the prize to every competition is an iPod. Enter this simple text quiz (only 50p per message) and win an iPod! Call this premium rate phone number and win an iPod! At work, there was a system set up to encourage new product ideas to be submitted. To encourage participation, all suggestions were put into a raffle, and the winner got... an iPod. I'm going to a one day research workshop tomorrow where students are encouraged to put up posters on their work. The best poster will win a prize -- which is an iPod. Check out all those borderline-illegal websites, that used to popupad you with claims that you could "get a free laptop" or whatever; nowadays these are uniformly all "get a free iPod".

Why? Who decided that it was better to have an iPod than the equivalent amount of cash (a few hundred dollars)? Why do people seem to find it more exciting to get an iPod when, if the statistics are to be believed, we all own 0.9 iPods each already. I have my own (non-apple produced) digital music hard-disk player, which I carefully chose after deciding that the iPod didn't have the combination of features that I wanted. Why should I feel that it's worth dropping everything to enter a competition to win an iPod? What if I already had one, why would I want another? If things carry on like this, we'll all have a hundred iPods each.

And then I realized -- we are entering an iPod economy. At some point in the next few years, we'll reach a point where we all do have a hundred iPods, and so they will lose all value as a music player, and instead take on a new value as a novel currency. The dollar and the Yen will crumble and fall, and we will instead transact all our business by exchanging iPods (worth approximately $300 each). For smaller units of currency, the sub-unit of the iPod will be the iTunes, conveniently pegged to 0.99USD, for relatively easy convenience of exchange.

Shortly after, we'll get fed up of humping around these large lumps of plastic and metal, and start issuing convenient paper/plastic based-iPod surrogates, readings "I promise to pay the bearer the sum of 0.5 iPods and 99 iTunes", with the grinning face of Steve Jobs glistening in a hologram on one side, and custom messages from U2 engraved onto the back. And so the whole evil scheme will come to pass, and apple's secret masterplan will finally take effect. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to head off now -- don't suppose you could lend me an album* till the weekend?

1 album = 10 iTunes = $9.90

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