[FOUNTAIN]The origin of an icon

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[FOUNTAIN]The origin of an icon

Four years ago, when the iPod was first introduced to the world, it was just one of many MP3 players.
It was two years later, on Jan. 6, 2003, that the iPod’s fate changed. On that day, the MacWorld Expo was held in San Francisco. At the exhibition, Steve Jobs played the advertisement that introduced Macintosh to the world when it was established in 1984. There was only one difference from the original version ― what the little girl was holding as she escaped from Big Brother had changed from a Macintosh to an iPod. That day, Apple Computer Inc. introduced a new iPod with a built-in 4 gigabyte hard disk. Mr. Jobs boasted, “Just as the Sony Walkman changed the method of listening to music some ten years ago, iPod will do the same.”
Just as Mr. Jobs said, the new iPod changed the trend of music file storage mechanics from CD to portable hard disk. New words such as as “poddism,” meaning enthusiasm for iPods, and “poddy,” a word describing iPod users, were created. Cases and accessories for iPods were also a big hit. Dylan Jones, the British author of “iPod, Therefore I Am,” even compared iPods to the discovery of fire or development of the wheel. In 2005, iPods became cultural icons.
It is the year-end season. There are several news items that always appear in the economy section of newspapers around this time of the year. “The best company of the year,” “the best executive,” “the best hit product,” and so on. This year, iPods monopolize the economy section. There are three tests that confirm this: 1. Which company’s stock price rose the most in America? ― Apple Computer Inc. As of Dec. 9, the stock value of Apple had risen 131 percent. It exceeded Google by far, which was second at 112 percent. 2. Who was selected the best leader in the science technology section by Business Week? ― Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple Computers. 3. Which product was chosen as the best hit product of the year by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun? ― iPod. In Japan alone, around 1.5 million iPods were sold this year.
Podcast is a compound word made with iPod and broadcast. It means “Personal broadcasting that you can listen to on an iPod.” A couple of days ago, the New Oxford American Dictionary chose Podcast as the word of the year. It officially approved the new world created by iPod.
Dorothy Leonard of Harvard University defined a cultural icon as a “symbol of existence and passion.” Leonard saw that when technology met with the ability to read the world, it could create a strong cultural icon. iPod proved this in just four years.

by Yi Jung-jae

The writer is a deputy business news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
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