Apple put out a press release a couple of days ago that got me thinking. It announced Apple selling PowerSchool, their student information systems division, to Pearson. And on the back of it Apple have agreed a ground breaking agreement with Pearson whereby they will develop educational content for teachers and students compatible with iPod. Given that Pearson are one of the largest educational publishers in the world, this is no small achievement.
And what it really proves is that the iPod is fast going way beyond its roots as a music player and is now becoming a powerful handheld computer, which will soon carry a plethora of applications, only one of which will be iTunes. The iPod will take off where the Newton collapsed - as the first truly mass market PDA!
When Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's) hit the market around 25 years ago everyone thought that the killer application which would take the PDA mass market would be the digital diary/agenda. How wrong they proved to be. The diary/agenda PDA managed sales of no more than around 11M per year at its peak.
No, the killer applications for the mass market PDA will prove to be music and mobile communications and the devices that will deliver the promise will be the iPod and mobile smartphones. Both are now selling in the tens of millions.
So to go full circle back to Apple's iPod, they just need launch an iPod Smartphone and they could have it all. If they do not - Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson will one day eat their lunch.