If you live in a town where most traveling to and from places is done by auto, you might not experience this phenomenon, but I see it every day: when I walk down the street I pass person after person plugged into a pair of white iPod headphones. In New York, this is almost a given feature of pedestrian life, a subtle way in which Apple has left a mark on the character of the city. The other day I started wondering how many iPods I actually see during, say, my walk from home to work in the morning, was it just a few that seemed like many, or was there really an iPod consumer on just about every block?
Below: Map quest. Thirty-two iPods (each in red) I passed on the way to work.
So last Thursday morning I printed out a map that covered my route from my apartment in the East Village to my office on 27th Street, and as I walked, I made a little dot every time I spotted someone wearing those telltale headphones. In total, I counted thirty-two iPods; not an insignificant number by any means. Assuming that the average cost of one of these things is, say, US$300, you could say that I passed about US$9,600 of Apple revenue in just a thirty-minute walk.
Of course, using this count to measure the iPod phenomenon is hardly sound analytical methodology. You’d need a larger sample size and more rigorous controls in place to really derive any useful data — not to mention a theorem more interesting than iPod pervasiveness to work on. Still, I think it would be an amusing experiment to create an aggregate map of, say, twenty Manhattanites’ walks to work. That would make for an interesting if still unscientific information graphic — you’d see a city covered in little red squares. Granted, it wouldn’t necessarily be useful for proving anything other than that, yes, there are too many people with enough disposable income to spend on overpriced MP3 players. It’d be neat all the same, though.