The Difference Between iPod and an MP3 Player

By Erin Monaghan
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One of the most common questions to sales people is, “what is the difference between an iPod and an MP3 player?” The truth is there is no difference, at least in functionality. An iPod is an MP3 player. Think of iPod as a brand name MP3 player, it’s the Nike of its business. And with more than 100 million iPods in circulation today, it is easily the most popular MP3 player on the market.

What makes iPod so popular is its simplicity, seamless integration with its iTunes software and easily accessible accessories in every Wal-Mart in the land. When iPod made its debut it was just like every other MP3 player on the market; except it was designed by and for Mac lovers. The iPod was designed to work with Apple’s already existing music organizer program called iTunes. At this time iTunes did not offer the option to purchase music.

Without getting into a history lesson, the reason iPod took off is largely due to its use with iTunes. iTunes was the first online music store to sign with all five major record labels of the time and provide legal music downloads at a minimal price. Currently, it is the largest online music store on the Internet with more than six million available tracks. 

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There are many other companies that manufacture MP3 players, like Creative Labs, Microsoft, SanDisk, Toshiba and many more, but none have been able to package software or make deals with other music download sites to rival the simplicity and usefulness of iTunes. The one major downside to downloading songs from the iTunes music store is most of the music is protected by certain copyrights that only allows the songs to play on an iPod, computer or burn to CD. Music bought through iTunes will not work on any other MP3 player brands.

As iPod gained popularity, additional manufactures saw an opportunity to supply users with accessories like speakers, car stereo attachments, microphones, FM transmitters, wrist bands, skins and more. One begot the other and soon every major discount store in the country was selling iPods and iPod accessories, making iPod (in the customer’s mind) synonymous with all things MP3.

The beauty of iPod is its simplicity spanned across the generation gaps and became a product that people of all ages could use and understand. Remember, there is no real difference between an iPod and any other MP3 player, except iPod has managed to take a potentially confusing process and make it easy, even for Grandma.  To see how the iPod ranks against other MP3 players, take a look at our review of MP3 Players.

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