Monday, October 23, 2006


The iPod music player marked its fifth anniversary Monday as a must-have fashion accessory which has also helped earn healthy profits for its developer Apple.

The California-based company launched its mini music player five years ago on October 23, 2001 and has never looked back as sales of the trendy gadget have continued to rise and rise.

Apple shipped over eight million iPods during its fiscal fourth quarter, marking a 35 percent increase in such shipments over the year-ago quarter, according to the company's latest earnings statement released last Wednesday.

And the sleek little music player has already become the "first cultural icon of the 21st Century," according to Michael Bull, a media lecturer at Britain's University of Sussex, who is researching the social influence of the iPod.

Apple has shored up the diminutive music player's popularity and ease of use by making it compatible with Windows PCs, and in 2003 the company launched its iTunes online music store enabling iPod devotees to download their favourite hits.

However, industry competition is mounting, and software giant Microsoft announced in September that its Zune MP3 music player will hit US stores on November 14 as it seeks to challenge iPod's grip on the lucrative market.

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