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A McDonald's Moment: Over 100 Million Sold

**It's guest columnist time! Doug Barney is traveling this week, so filling his chair today is Michael Desmond, former editor-at-large of Redmond and founding editor of our newest publication, Redmond Developer News. Stay tuned for more guest columnists throughout the week.**

Apple today announced that it had sold its 100 millionth iPod digital audio player (DAP). The now-iconic brand, which kicked off back in November 2001, helped revitalize Apple and inspired an entire industry of imitators, including Microsoft's Zune line of DAPs.

Even as it broke sales records and changed forever the way people listen to -- and buy -- music, the iPod helped escalate an ugly battle around the issues of intellectual property, ownership and fair use. That battle, which first flared around peer-to-peer services like Napster and Kazaa, has grown to engulf every area of consumable media --- from music and videos to books and software.

The 100 million sales mark also comes at an interesting time for Apple, which just announced that some of its EMI catalog music will be available on the iTunes Store sans DRM.

That's a huge change for Apple, which has pioneered DRM technology as a way to enable online music sales. What's more, the company has adamantly opposed unlocking its DRM scheme so other players might work with it. The result: Anyone who wants to shop the world's largest catalog of online music must play it back on an iPod family DAP.

For veteran IT managers, the iPod proves what many of us have long known: A good idea can become great if it's fronted with a truly compelling interface.

What will the music industry and the state of intellectual property look like when the iPod hits 1 billion sold, I wonder? After all, Ray Kroc probably never envisioned a McDonald's menu including items like Fruit and Walnut Salad, Snack Wrap and McLean Deluxe.

Posted by Michael Desmond on April 09, 2007


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