Geek Trends: iPod Pockets

I’m a certified bag nut. I seem to acquire them everywhere and frequently have to purge my collection to make space for actual possessions — otherwise I’d just be carrying around bags in larger bags (it’s happened before). That said, I’m distinctly aware of pack-efficiency. The more they can carry, the better, as long as the size doesn’t expand.

There is, however, one trend that I can’t figure out; a feature common to practically every new bag in production. I’m referring, of course, to the iPod pocket, a “feature” with no true utility.

While researching this column this week, I found myself gawking toward the people on subways much more than I would have liked. It created a few odd situations, but it wasn’t them I was curious about. It was the method in which they stowed their DAPs. My observations have led me to the conclusion that an exceedingly small group of individuals actually use the compartments. It’s a position that I empathize with — because those pockets are impractical.

Sure it provides one with a special place for an audio player, but I’ve got a little secret for everyone who doesn’t know: So do rear pants pockets. All that iPod compartments do is conceal your device and make it difficult to access. As an experiment, I’ve tried using these compartments for the past week, and it’s a total pain in the ass. It might look cool having your cabling route out of your bag, but any sense of cool is immediately vaporized the instant you have to spin your bag around, open it up, dig for your audio player, adjust the track and put the bag back on. Oh wait, this album is louder. Well, I guess you’re going to have to repeat the process; the whole damn process.

Meanwhile, that hipster with too tight jeans need only figure a way to wedge his hand into his back pocket and pry his iPod out in order to adjust his tunes. Fortunately he didn’t eat his vegetables as kid, so his had is emaciated anyway — it fits no problem. You’ll just have to wear looser jeans.

So if those compartments are useless, why the hell are they on every bag made? Good question, and one for which I have a couple of answers to (I probably could have researched it, but this is my column, so I’m going to depend on opinion and speculation to answer this one). As I discussed in my previous column about the death of innovation, the iPod is the last gadget to truly change the world. Bag makers couldn’t let the phenomenon simply pass by. They had to latch on. It makes sense. To avoid iCulture is to essentially live under a rock (a surefire way for a company to go out of business). So being bag makers, they did what bag makers do. They added a compartment for the device. Unfortunately, like most of the “innovations” since iPod, these compartments just make our lives more difficult.

If someone really wants to create a valid solution for carrying an iPod, they might consider making some sort of third ass pocket. That might make sense, but I’m just speculating here. But to be clear, I’m not condoning those Levi’s iPod pants. Those things were just stupid (and ugly).

And so again, I leave with a challenge to innovate. If you’re going make an iPod compartment on a bag, make it easily accessible. Because if it isn’t conducive to fluidity of motion, it’s useless to us. Now get to work.