It’s been exactly five years since Apple launched the iPod on 23 October 2001. Looking back over the past five years, it’s interesting to note how much the perception of Apple has changed as the iPod has grown in popularity.

Is this the iPod halo effect that analysts and Apple have been talking about? Well, ordinary people now know about the company I’m talking about when I say what I do. In fact, not only do they know about Apple, they own an Apple product. That increased awareness definitely has a lot to do with the iPod.

But the real difference is that the PC gurus I know are starting to think about owning a Mac. Where there used to be a perception that Apple computers were strictly for creative types, and people who liked pretty boxes, it’s suddenly a viable option for them to own a Mac.

This change in opinion isn’t because of the iPod – although the music player has certainly had its part to play in increasing their awareness of the brand. It’s because suddenly - and I can't quite pinpoint when this happened - they have realised that Apple offers the advantages of Linux in a user-friendly operating system, as well as a load of really cool applications.

Maybe the popularity of the iPod meant that they were reading and talking more about Apple, and therefore found out about Mac OS X and all the benefits that come with that operating system. Maybe the visibility of Apple increased thanks to the Apple Stores that opened up on our high streets. Maybe it was all the negative coverage of Microsoft and its viruses. Whatever the reason, the fact is, Mac’s are now credible even in the eyes of the PC geeks.

There is more to that changed perception than a pocket music player, but the headline grabbing iPod has certainly helped raise awareness of the company.