The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

January 26, 2005

Regional differences

Up until my recent stay in London I may have had a completely wrong idea about the impact of Apple's iPod music player. At any rate I never quite understood why everybody in the media and on the Internet was so excited about it. They made it sound like the iPod was a huge success, and that seemed odd. That's because here in Vienna, you hardly ever see the iPod's very distinctive earphones in people's ears in the streets. Hardly anybody buys iPods here. No idea what they buy because shops have an extensive selection of MP3 players, but you hardly ever see iPods anywhere.

And then I was in London and noticed that almost everybody who's wearing earphones is wearing iPod earphones. Compared to Vienna, it seemed almost as if nobody was using anything other than iPods. Suddenly I understood that the success of the iPod existed, it just didn't exist in Austria.

Which again proves that Vienna is a technological backwater in the grasp of cheap Taiwanese imports. But then iPods are much less affordable here than they are in London: the price of an iPod is roughly the same, but people here earn significantly less than they earn in London, and they'd rather spend the money on mobile phone bills anyway.

That's another interesting thing to notice: the number of times an average person in London hears mobile phones ringing during one week is about the same an average person in Vienna hears mobile phones ringing during the train ride from the airport to the city. For some reason people here think that mobile phone ring tones are much cooler than iPods. It's one of the things I'll never understand.

Posted by Horst on January 26, 2005 12:43 AM to the body electric | Tell-a-friend

Adalbert said on January 27, 2005 12:15 AM:

I actually did see a few people in Vienna wearing those distictive white ear plugs. There where also iPods at Mediamarkt, although they have a very weird categorization at the Mediamarkt website, describing the memory as Fixspeicher instead of either harddisk or flash memory.

Armin said on January 27, 2005 12:47 AM:

I politely disagree: Most Brits are very fashion and fad conscious. The iPod was hyped enormously here in the run up to Christmas, it was _the_ must have Christmas present and a lot of people were maxing out their credit cards to get one. It's also a status symbol, another important reason why a lot of people have one. That's why you see so many of them.

And people earning more in London? Yes, may be, in particular a few bankers and media types, but not the vast majority. Not to forget the high costs of living. But more maxed out credit card limits.

Horst said on January 27, 2005 10:33 AM:

An underground train driver in London earns significantly more than an academic librarian in Vienna (and about twice as much as an underground train driver in Vienna). Actually, an academic librarian in London earns about 50% more than an academic librarian in Vienna. Don't know anything about the vast majority though.

Of course, most things (iPods excepted) also cost a lot more in London than they cost in Vienna, so people certainly aren't any richer. But iPods are more affordable.

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