Before the Macworld keynote this morning some of us were talking about the sea of MP3 players that were on display at the recent CES show. I asked a reporter who had attended the event how some of those players stacked up against the iPod. He said they were fine, but they certainly weren’t as easy to use.
My theory is that it’s really iTunes that makes the iPod rise above the competition. My music library is so easy to manage — rip, mix, purchase, and upload — that I spend my time listening to music, not organizing it. In general, I think a lot of people agree with me. That’s why Apple needed to come out with iTunes for Windows. And look what happened once they did.
Little did I realize this morning that my theory would be put to the test. The just announced iPod shuffle is the model of simplicity. How can Apple get away with a Flash music player that doesn’t even have an LCD screen? The answer: iTunes. The lines of code that power the iPod shuffle are so good that the whole thing “just works.”
Apple is master at creating great software to drive hardware sales. iPhoto and Mac OS X Tiger are two solid examples. But in my view, iTunes is king. We just wrapped up the year of the iPod, and another good one has just begun. I’m tipping my hat to those great software developers that make it all work so well.