Apple’s iTunes wins “Coolest Innovation” of the Year award

The 99¢ Solution: Time magazine picked Apple’s iTunes as the “coolest new technology” in the music category for 2003.

Ironically, there’s not very much new technology in iTunes — just a good set of ideas executed very well, using existing tech. Perhaps the innovation was that “Steve Jobs’ new Music Store showed foot-dragging record labels and freeloading music pirates that there is a third way . . .”

Here’s an excerpt:

“When Steve Jobs holds forth in public, it’s usually to a mob of fawning Apple-ites—the true believers who still develop software and accessories for Apple products. Not so last month at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. This crowd was more mack daddy than Macworld. Bono, Mick Jagger and Dr. Dre made video appearances. Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart was in the audience. Sarah McLachlan sang her latest hits live. What was pulling these musical supernovas into Jobs’ magnetic field? A software product that just might save their free-falling industry: the iTunes Music Store.

It’s a disarmingly simple concept: sell songs in digital format for less than a buck and let buyers play them whenever and wherever they like—as long as it’s on an Apple iPod. Jobs had proved the idea back in April when he launched the Music Store for Mac users, who represent only 3% of the computer world but promptly gobbled up a million tracks in the first week of business. By October he was ready to set the Music Store aloft in the 97% of the world that uses Windows PCs, and the prospect of converting millions of music pirates into credit-card wielding music buyers was enough to make even the most jaded rock stars take notice. How did Jobs do this trick? In a word: simplicity—the transparent ease of use that is the hallmark of Apple’s entire product line, including the Music Store. “I’m a complete computer dummy,” McLachlan told Time after the event. “If I can use this, anyone can.”

And, it seems, just about anyone is. Three days after the Moscone event, PC owners had downloaded a million copies of the software and paid for a million songs (adding to the 14 million music downloads already made by Mac users). In a year when record labels hit a sour note by suing students, grandparents and 12-year-old file sharers, Jobs had effectively brokered a peace agreement: he had shown the music industry how to win friends and make money on the very Internet that was being used to steal their songs.”

Note: The full list of winners can be seen here.

The 99¢ Solution

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