Paul Saffo says that technologies take 20 years to arrive from invention to our home. In this entry on the significance of iPod, he says:
The iPod is an extraordinary innovation — and still so misunderstood even on the fifth anniversary of its introduction on October 23, 2001. In contemplating it’s significance, it is tempting to focus on the iPod as a device, an artifact that is as beautiful as it is functional. But the device is only the tip of the iceberg, for the greatest long-term impact of the iPod lies in the underlying iTunes music delivery system.
I don’t mean simply the idea of coupling the device with the delivery system. Rather, it is the details of iTunes that makes it revolutionary. With iTunes, Apple accomplished two vast, seismic shifts. First, the iPod ended the era of the album as the basic unit of music sales. For the first time since the demise of 45 singles records, the song is king.
Second, Apple’s iTunes store broke the album-centric economic model that has given the recording industry its vast power.
Nice to get a perspective on a larger trends. You can find Paul’s journal here.