The iPod was six years old last night, and has transformed Apple's fortunes and been an agent of trans-industry change.

Sadly I don't have time to do justice to the iPod's sixth birthday today, but it would be churlish to let the anniversary of the incredibly popular device go unremarked.

iPod has grown from a pocket music player equipped with 1,000 songs to the wide array of media playback devices - and the iPhone and iPod touch Apple offers today.

Apple's iTunes Store - which followed the iPod - has become the third biggest music retailer in the US.

And the music industry has changed forever - while such change was inevitable, the incredibly blinkered (and rapacious) attitude of the major labels is best illustrated by Universal Music's foolish decision to try to build its own music download service.

Music fans and artists won't be interested, as more artists both small and large realise that they don't want to sign across all their merchandising and tour receipts income in exhange for distribution and recording support they can build for themselves.

And while the iPod may have turned six, music is eternal, umbilically linked to the history of humanity and civilisation. The fact major acts such as The Charlatans and Radiohead have now given their approval to the notion of making music free can only mean the quality of music itself - and the effort the artists put into it - will get better and better.

Music's entering a golden age.

Happy birthday, iPod.