To iPod on its 15th birthday: Thanks for revolutionizing digital music

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited October 2016
In 2001, Apple unveiled a singular product that launched the company out of the niche PC market and started an evolution that morphed the company into the world-dominating presence we know now. That device was iPod.




Since its debut 15 years ago, iPod's music player capabilities have been integrated into smartphones and other emerging technologies, making the once top-selling device an almost extinct product. Yet, it was the iPod that ushered in the age of digital music, an idea Apple cofounder Steve Jobs marketed as "1,000 songs in your pocket."

Although it's forever etched in our collective consciousness as the first stepping stone for portable music players, iPod was a leap into the unknown for Apple. At the time, iPod came with a hefty $399 price tag and Mac-only connectivity using the FireWire interface, bold strategies from a company looking to break into a new market.

At first, consumers didn't take to iPod, and tech reviewers panned the device. Sales outside early adopters and the Apple faithful were anemic -- but there were enough for the Apple that Jobs built to keep on.

Eventually, a market was born, helped along by the release of iTunes for Windows in 2003 and the iTunes Music Store.

If you're of a certain age, you'll remember the popularity of CDs and dodgy peer-to-peer music sharing sites. With the advent of iTunes, neither were required -- just pick some songs, load them onto your iPod and your favorite music was made ultraportable. It delivered an unparalleled end-to-end solution for music consumption.

Sales skyrocketed, setting the stage for 15 years of iPod evolution. We saw an iPod mini in 2004, the shuffle in 2005 and nano in 2005. With a diverse product line, Apple was able to offer the idea of iPod at almost any price point.





Now, the silhouette ads and white earbuds are an iconic part of pop culture, along with the device itself. Even the podcast -- named after the iPod itself -- can thank the iPod for its existence.

Apple unveiled iPhone in 2007, another revolutionary product that ushered in the beginning of the end for iPod. With iPhone, not only could you have thousands of songs in your pocket, but also a mobile phone, camera, PDA, web browser, video player and more.

The iPod touch borrowed some of iPhone's technology, including a large multitouch display, and launched later that year, throwing the device line a bit of life-line.

The iPhone brought with it the age of the smartphone, and within a few years the need for separate music players was effectively nullified. Sales went from 55 million iPods per year in 2008 to just a fraction of that in recent years. Apple no longer breaks out iPod shipments into its own earnings category, instead lumping the product in with other accessories and miscellaneous hardware.

Apple's revolutionary music player has since been relegated to niche buyers focused mainly on finding a low-cost device for working out. The current shuffle and nano models remain small, compact and fairly inexpensive. There were also third-party inventions -- like the LunaTik Watch Wrist Strap for the iPod Nano that was released in 2010 -- that showed signs for the need for the iPod, and Apple itself, to push into other markets.

The death of the iPod Classic in 2014 signaled an end to iPod innovation.

With the unveiling of the Apple Watch in 2015, even the iPod models in the wild face extinction as runners not only have streaming music offerings while they run or swim, but also a wealth of additional services and benefits from the watches and the fitness apps they house. That year also saw the debut of Apple Music, an all-you-can-eat streaming service that might prove to be the nail in iPod's coffin.

However, for die-hard fans and those attached to the classic wheel design, there are longevity programs thought up by enterprising third parties. One example is the iFlash, a DIY kit that allows users to replace the internal hard drive in the iPod Classic with an SDHC or SDXC flash media card -- giving up to a 128GB of capacity.

Although the iPod is reaching the end of its lifecycle, it's important to remember that it changed the way we listen to music. It was a revolutionary idea -- being able to carry in your pocket thousands of songs delivered direct through iTunes -- one that can easily be taken for granted.

So here's to you, iPod, on your 15th birthday! Thanks for revolutionizing the way we listen to music and helping us get rid of those clunky, awkward Walkmans.
Mike Wuertheledsd

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,000member
    I read somewhere that the term "iPod" was an Apple-owned trademark that was originally intended for an internet kiosk in public places. (E.g., I=Internet, POD=Workstation). That product didn't fly well, so they re-used it for this device. Perhaps a more apt name would have been mPod (M=Music). In which case we would be using the mPhone now.
    repressthis
  • Reply 2 of 18
    Quite the evolution!
  • Reply 3 of 18
    Back in the day I was using a program called Messer to record MP3s of streaming audio to Mp3 to save to CD. I did that every day so I could listen to my favorite radio show on the way home on an MP3 capable portable CD player. Back in my day, electronics sucked but we liked them!
    cali
  • Reply 4 of 18
    anomeanome Posts: 1,439member
    I read somewhere that the term "iPod" was an Apple-owned trademark that was originally intended for an internet kiosk in public places. (E.g., I=Internet, POD=Workstation). That product didn't fly well, so they re-used it for this device. Perhaps a more apt name would have been mPod (M=Music). In which case we would be using the mPhone now.


    The version I heard was that the kiosk never got out of testing, and they were desperate for a trademark for the music player so they could get it to market quickly. Hence using the disused iPod trademark.

    Really, the "i" was introduced with the iMac to mean "internet" and the iPod didn't really have much to do with the internet until 2007/8. Maybe if they hadn't used the iPod trademark, they'd have moved to using the "Apple" (can't do the icon version on this computer) prefix earlier, and we'd have the "Apple"Phone, etc.

    repressthis
  • Reply 5 of 18
    Take the memes outta this article, and it's even shorter, and quite empty, but not so irritating.
    I wish Dilger had written on this topic: historical context, insight, wit, and healthy sarcasm!
    The iPod was proof that Apple and Jobs had the right ideas, understanding, and execution, and this article is incredibly weak. Is the author an Android user, or merely shallow?
    I feel insulted that this is the best AppleInsider can do.

    Points and details missed:
    iPod was built using the tech ms tried to kill off in the 90's
    iTMS was built using tech removed from dell
    Jobs didn't design the iPod
    Cook was responsible for all logistics - pattern of efficiency set
    iPod set stage for Apple to change name
    Nano pre-empted Watch
    ms repeatedly tried destroying iPod
    iTMS and iPod were directly responsible for introducing ms-entrenched to Apple's elegant user experience, such as me! :D 
    iPod profits were directly related to iPhone
    The iPod app
    The end of the iPod app with Music

    The derived, vapid, superficial article as presented above completely fails to capture the resounding changes iPod brought to Apple, the music industry, the vaporware business model of ms, and millions of people, if not billions. This product was prelude to both iPhone and Watch, and deserves just a little more thought and acknowledgement, wouldn't you say?
    radarthekatbrometheusjony0repressthisluvmymacs
  • Reply 6 of 18
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    Seeing iPods tucked on a shelf in the back of the Apple Store was depressing.
    Like a former king on his deathbed. Which is why I hope Apple Watch becomes the new iPod.
    watto_cobrarepressthis
  • Reply 7 of 18
    brakken said:
    Take the memes outta this article, and it's even shorter, and quite empty, but not so irritating.
    I wish Dilger had written on this topic: historical context, insight, wit, and healthy sarcasm!
    The iPod was proof that Apple and Jobs had the right ideas, understanding, and execution, and this article is incredibly weak. Is the author an Android user, or merely shallow?
    I feel insulted that this is the best AppleInsider can do.

    Points and details missed:
    iPod was built using the tech ms tried to kill off in the 90's
    iTMS was built using tech removed from dell
    Jobs didn't design the iPod
    Cook was responsible for all logistics - pattern of efficiency set
    iPod set stage for Apple to change name
    Nano pre-empted Watch
    ms repeatedly tried destroying iPod
    iTMS and iPod were directly responsible for introducing ms-entrenched to Apple's elegant user experience, such as me! D 
    iPod profits were directly related to iPhone
    The iPod app
    The end of the iPod app with Music

    The derived, vapid, superficial article as presented above completely fails to capture the resounding changes iPod brought to Apple, the music industry, the vaporware business model of ms, and millions of people, if not billions. This product was prelude to both iPhone and Watch, and deserves just a little more thought and acknowledgement, wouldn't you say?
    Excellent points and yes those would have helped this article tell the story of the iPod! You missed just one - completely changed the music business for ever!

    Or was that Drake? /s
    edited October 2016 entropysrepressthisbrakken
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Actually I think it was *snicker* Tidal that changed the music biz.
    entropyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    The Classic iPod 1 is still superior to anything Apple has yet to offer: You don't need anything but your finger to change tracks, adjust volume, move forward/back within a track and more. No, not even eyesight, all by feel and touch even while wearing work gloves. No optional equipment or add-ons needed. I'll never give it up.
    luvmymacsbsenka
  • Reply 10 of 18
    The Classic iPod 1 is still superior to anything Apple has yet to offer: You don't need anything but your finger to change tracks, adjust volume, move forward/back within a track and more. No, not even eyesight, all by feel and touch even while wearing work gloves. No optional equipment or add-ons needed. I'll never give it up.
    Epilogue: Old Oak Tree’s battery died the very next day. He was last seen jerry rigging newer batteries into his first-gen, which summarily caught fire. Digging through the smoldering remains of his house, he found that the battery had come from a Note 7.
    entropyswatto_cobrabestkeptsecretrepressthiscityguide
  • Reply 11 of 18
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    "That device was iPod"

    Actually it 
    wasn't: it was 'the iPod'

    Ok, it seems I recollected that wrongly: Steve did say 'iPod' consistently, apparently I blocked that.
    Impressive presentation by the way, Steve was really 'The Man'.
    I wasn't impressed a bit at the time, I didn't like a non computer product from Apple and thought it was much to bulky (like the AWatch is now) and wasn't interested in music devices in general (I don't use them, still don't), but it turned out to be a master move from Apple (and Steve) and resulted in the billion iDevices we have now and the breakdown of the MS imperium (quadratic kudos!) ...
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 12 of 18
    knowitall said:
    "That device was iPod"

    Actually it 
    wasn't: it was 'the iPod'

    Ok, it seems I recollected that wrongly: Steve did say 'iPod' consistently, apparently I blocked that.
    Impressive presentation by the way, Steve was really 'The Man'.
    I wasn't impressed a bit at the time, I didn't like a non computer product from Apple and thought it was much to bulky (like the AWatch is now) and wasn't interested in music devices in general (I don't use them, still don't), but it turned out to be a master move from Apple (and Steve) and resulted in the billion iDevices we have now and the breakdown of the MS imperium (quadratic kudos!) ...

    Sometimes you just can't knowitall...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    brakken said:
    Take the memes outta this article, and it's even shorter, and quite empty, but not so irritating.
    I wish Dilger had written on this topic: historical context, insight, wit, and healthy sarcasm!
    The iPod was proof that Apple and Jobs had the right ideas, understanding, and execution, and this article is incredibly weak. Is the author an Android user, or merely shallow?
    I feel insulted that this is the best AppleInsider can do.

    Points and details missed:
    iPod was built using the tech ms tried to kill off in the 90's
    iTMS was built using tech removed from dell
    Jobs didn't design the iPod
    Cook was responsible for all logistics - pattern of efficiency set
    iPod set stage for Apple to change name
    Nano pre-empted Watch
    ms repeatedly tried destroying iPod
    iTMS and iPod were directly responsible for introducing ms-entrenched to Apple's elegant user experience, such as me! :D 
    iPod profits were directly related to iPhone
    The iPod app
    The end of the iPod app with Music

    The derived, vapid, superficial article as presented above completely fails to capture the resounding changes iPod brought to Apple, the music industry, the vaporware business model of ms, and millions of people, if not billions. This product was prelude to both iPhone and Watch, and deserves just a little more thought and acknowledgement, wouldn't you say?

    Also, no mention about how the "father of the iPod" isn't really the father of the iPod.
  • Reply 14 of 18
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    knowitall said:
    "That device was iPod"

    Actually it wasn't: it was 'the iPod'

    Ok, it seems I recollected that wrongly: Steve did say 'iPod' consistently, apparently I blocked that.
    Impressive presentation by the way, Steve was really 'The Man'.
    I wasn't impressed a bit at the time, I didn't like a non computer product from Apple and thought it was much to bulky (like the AWatch is now) and wasn't interested in music devices in general (I don't use them, still don't), but it turned out to be a master move from Apple (and Steve) and resulted in the billion iDevices we have now and the breakdown of the MS imperium (quadratic kudos!) ...

    Sometimes you just can't knowitall...
    Your right, its just a name.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    wozwozwozwoz Posts: 252member
    iPod IShmod. I much prefer physical formats:  hi-rez SACD - and sometimes even vinyl which is far more cool than digital can ever be. Makes music special and purposeful ... not just tracks that stream and shuffle.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    noivadnoivad Posts: 186member
    There is an error in the article. The iFlash supports up SDXC 512GB flash media per slot, and there is a 2 slot version. Storage available after formatting with a single card is about 465GB. This means the maximum storage available using a dual bay iFlash is over 900GB. However, this capacity not available on 6th-gen iPods (Classic) due to firmware limiting it to 128GB. I know this because I have a dual bay iFlash with a single 512GB SDXC card, and bought a 5th-gen iPod for about $50 to enable me to hold more of my music collection.
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 17 of 18
    wozwoz said:
    iPod IShmod. I much prefer physical formats:  hi-rez SACD - and sometimes even vinyl which is far more cool than digital can ever be. Makes music special and purposeful ... not just tracks that stream and shuffle.
    The medium is not what makes music special and purposeful.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    If you're a music collector, the classic is a must. Until Apple finds away to put 100 gigs of music on the watch, I'm babying my classic.
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