I came, I saw, iPod

To the relief of friends and relatives, I joined the iPod nation, in the Special Edition U2 region, over the holidays. No more cassette-playing Sony Walkman for me.

The user’s manual gave me fresh insight into iPod fetishism: It calls the iPod, well, not “the iPod” but simply “iPod”—like Madonna or Sting or … Bono. As in, “Learning to Use iPod.” “Connecting and Disconnecting iPod.” Or maybe one day, as the technology becomes more advanced, “How to Get iPod into the College of iPod’s Choice.” I found it so peculiar that I actually looked on Apple’s Web site to see if the company considers the iMac to be simply “iMac.” It doesn’t.

The other observation—well, shocking factoid: Remember how the U2 iPod comes with preloaded U2 songs? Well, turns out it doesn’t. The iPod—oh, exuse me, iPod—looks cool. It’s New York black, with a Target red click wheel. But there’s nothing loaded on it—not even the 30-second snippet of “Vertigo” from the commercial. (What you get instead is a $50 coupon toward the $150, 446-song Complete U2.) I have no idea where the misconception comes from, but it’s rampant. I saw it mentioned just the other day in The New York Times. “What fueled the ability of Apple to sell single songs profitably? It wasn’t merely because U2 made a splashy deal with Apple to sell its latest hit album preloaded in custom iPods. It was the growing acceptance of micropayments on the part of consumers and merchants.”

Maybe that’s why the first thing I loaded onto iPod was Radiohead.

—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor