Some of you may be aware that Apple iPhone celebrates it’s ten year anniversary is next year. And everyone is expecting big things from Apple, as the iPhone is a milestone in their history. Quietly, Apple has just celebrated another big anniversary – the beloved iPod. The iPod became one of Apple’s most famous products, and arguably the first product to prove popular with the masses.
Why Apple gave us iPod
Up until iPod, everyone was still using Walkmans. A big, awkward device you would put your CD into and attach your headphones to. Steve Jobs looked at this design, and in typical Steve Jobs fashion, decided it was too big and too difficult to use. Jobs fashioned a small, compact MP3 player we now know as ‘iPod’. And even the bare minimum of devices that had flash memory, they could still only handle a couple CD’s worth of songs. Apple’s ‘portable jukebox’ came with memory options of 8, 16 and 64GB. Enough to easily hold over 1000 songs.
Jobs also got rid of the traditional headphone’s that went over your head. Apple leaned towards the legendary white Apple earphones. The white cable hanging down on display for everyone to see became a fashion trend as the iPod took off, starring in the device’s marketing campaign.
In terms of using the device, Jobs wanted it simple. The iPod shouldn’t just be a newer version of tapes and CDs, instead, it needed to be better. No more skipping through the songs you didn’t want to hear, the iPod was fitted with a screen and navigation wheel. This allowed users to browse their library of tracks. All without interrupting the current song they were listening to.
Not only did Jobs change how we listened to music, he changed how we purchased it.
Apple, iPod, iTunes
Introducing iTunes. Not a lot of people are aware that Steve Jobs did not create iTunes. In 1998, SoundJam MP was developed by a man called Bill Kincaid. In 2000, it was purchased by Apple. SoundJam allowed you to rip CD’s onto your computer to use as MP3 files. In 2002, Steve made a deal with five major record labels allowing Apple to sell digital copies of their albums. Later on, this would move on to selling and renting movies, TV shows, and Apps. In April 2003, we saw the launch of the iTunes Store. The idea was that one album wouldn’t be worth 10 dollars and another is only worth 5 based on popularity. Jobs introduced a fixed price for all the music, offering singles for .99c each. Although in 2007, they tiered pricing.
As the years went on, the iPod began to evolve. They became more compact. They had more memory. Better quality sound. The first big change we saw was the introduction of the Nano. A thin sleek device that fits perfectly in the small pocket on your jeans. Soon after, they brought out the fifth generation iPod, with a bigger screen for watching videos. At this point, Apple was very much involved in MP4 and was looking to provide the best possible experience for its users.
The birth of Touch
In September 2007, following the release of the iPhone, Apple released its sixth-generation iPod, its third generation iPod Nano, and its new iPod Touch. A product Apple hoped to completely replace the classic iPod with. Even their Nano’s had touch screen on them. Apple could see that the world was transitioning from click to touch. The Touch initially only had 8GB and 16GB, but came with 32GB the following February due to the popularity of the new iPod.
In April 2008, Apple overtook Walmart as the biggest music vendor in the US, at this point selling well over 1 billion songs.
Skip to 2010. Apple has six generations of iPod, four generations of Nanos, four generations of Shuffles and is has the fourth generation Touch, selling over 275 million products since its release in 2001. At this point, Apple has nearly taken over the digital music industry. Last year saw the release of the sixth generation Touch which comes with the same processor as the iPhone 6s, an A8 chip. This is more power than most phone service out there.
And it’s not stopping any time soon…
15 years down later, the iPod is still on sale today. In a time when everyone’s phone has a built-in music player or streaming service, it’s still going. There were rumours floating around that Apple had discontinued it, but they weren’t confirmed. Realistically, Apple may discontinue the device in the future. But they still have a firm grip on the digital music industry and as long as they do, iPod will probably still be around. Parents also appreciate having an option of a gaming and entertainment device that isn’t a phone for their kids.
But we won’t ponder over whether or not iPod will be gone in the next few years or not. For now, we’ll just say, Happy Birthday iPod.