Apple’s iPod is the other device that saved Apple and set the stage for the iPhone


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It was the iMac that saved Apple Computer, but it was the iPod that made the company a mainstream tech hit — and it lasted 21 years.

From launch to shutdown, the iPod lasted 7,504 days, and in that time it went from limited appeal, to incredible mass-market success, and then to being all but forgotten. Originally, if only briefly, only for Mac users, the iPod has somehow managed to become both status symbol and ubiquitous, all at the same time.

“We lured you here today,” Steve Jobs told reporters gathered October 23, 2001, “with the promise of a revolutionary digital device that isn’t a Mac. And that’s exactly what we’re going to To do.”

“We love music, and it’s always good to do something you love,” Jobs continued. “Most importantly, music is part of everyone’s life. But, interestingly, in this brand new digital music revolution, there is no market leader.”

At this point there were CD players, limited Flash players, both of which held about 15 songs. There was an MP3 CD format that held 150 songs and there were hard drives that held 1,000 tracks.

“We’ve looked at that and studied all of that, and that’s where we want to be,” Jobs said. “iMac, iBook…iPod.”

“The iPod is an MP3 player that contains CD-quality music,” Jobs continued. “The coolest thing about the iPod is that your entire music library fits in your pocket.”

The iPod revolutionized music

Apple’s iPod was far from the first MP3 player. Even its software was based on the existing SoundJam that Apple bought in early 2001. But the renamed and redesigned iTunes made the iPod the first music player anyone could use, and anyone would want. .

Apparently, the name iPod was coined by freelance writer Vinnie Chieco, who remembered “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the line “open the pod bay doors, Hal.”

At launch, Jobs gave the impression that the iPod was driven by a love of music, but it also came about as a very practical coincidence. Apple’s Jon Rubinstein was shown a miniature 5GB hard drive by Toshiba engineers who had practically designed it as a proof of concept.

The developers certainly had no client in mind, no project. When it was shown to Rubinstein, however, he recognized its value.

With Jobs’s quick approval, Rubinstein purchased all of Toshiba’s inventory to manufacture the iPod. It cost ten million dollars, or $15.63 million in today’s money.

This set up the inside of the iPod, and the famous wheel design came from Phil Schiller. But ultimately the rest of the hardware design was developed by Tony Fadell, who would later become known as the father of the iPod.

He is certainly the father of his arrival on Windows as soon as he did. Fadell says he had to get journalist Walt Mossberg to see Steve Jobs and persuade him not to limit the iPod to the Mac.

Launched without fanfare

In his new stories covering the launch of the iPod, the New York Times quoted an analyst saying it was good for Mac users. “But for the rest of the Windows world, it makes no difference,” the article correctly stated.

Even so, Jobs told the newspaper that Apple may struggle to meet the initial vacation request. And, of course, he predicted that the iPod would drive customers to buy Macintoshes.

Curiously, the iPod garnered more praise from PC Magazine. “Let Apple bring out the world’s coolest – and dare we say the best – MP3 player,” read a review headline, “Not Just Candy.”

Apple has revamped the original iPod form factor under the

Apple revamped the original iPod form factor under the “iPod Classic” brand.

“Its usefulness and simplicity make it a remarkable product, even for the price,” he continued. “Our only gripe: While the Mac-compatible iPod is available now, a rumored PC version won’t appear until spring, if ever.”

The first version of Windows was launched in July 2002.

iPod takes off

This version of Windows was officially the second-generation iPod, and it was followed by a third in 2003. A fourth, called iPod photo, was released in 2004, when Hewlett Packard briefly released a badged version.

But while specs kept getting better and storage capacity kept increasing, the iPod was still more than the sum of its technology.

Just as you see AirPods everywhere today, in the early 2000s you saw everyone wearing the famous white headphones. Whether they used an iPod or the latest iPod mini and iPod nano, the headphones were the same.

It was impossible to imagine how successful the iPod would become – and at the height of its success, it was inconceivable that it would ever disappear, that there would ever be a rival.

In the end, the iPod’s greatest enemy turned out to be Apple itself. He first took the iPod mini, the world’s best-selling music player, and ditched it altogether in favor of the iPod nano.

It was Apple that was willing to sacrifice one success when it believed it had another.

And then in 2007, he really believed he had another hit. Apple released the iPhone, or what Steve Jobs billed in part as “a widescreen iPod with touch controls.”

At the height of the iPod’s success, it really seemed like the iPhone might overthrow it as the best music player to buy. When your iPhone does everything your iPod can do and more, that was surely the end of the one-time-use music player.

However, that was not the end of the iPod.

The iPod touch

Apple launched the first iPod touch in September 2007, a few months after Apple launched the iPhone. Taking an overview of the history of iPod, the device lasted another 15 years after the fall of the iPhone.

The first iPod touch looked a lot like Apple’s original iPhone. It had a 3.5-inch screen, multi-touch and Wi-Fi. It was basically an iPhone for those who didn’t want calling functionality.

The iPod touch was the most recent iPod available.

The iPod touch was the most recent iPod available.

From there, Apple continued to iterate on the iPod touch. A version with a built-in speaker and an even slimmer design debuted in 2008. This model was also the first to sport the App Store.

The iPod touch lacked a camera and microphone until 2010 with the release of the fourth generation version. Meanwhile, the 2011 model finally brought iMessage, notifications, and iCloud. It took until the fifth generation in 2012 to receive an LED flash.

Each change to the iPod touch only brought incremental updates as the company was busy focusing on the iPhone, Apple Watch and other devices. However, the iPod touch remained a popular device for consumer and business customers.

And, until mid-2017, the iPod touch wasn’t even the only model available.

The decline of the iPod

Although iPod touch is the most recent Apple music player, the very latest models of iPod nano and iPod shuffle were actually available until mid-2017.

It’s easy to forget that in the era of the Apple Watch and iPhone, customers could still buy an iPod nano.

A chart of the lifespan of iPod families

The seventh-generation iPod nano, which was first released in 2013, actually sported a 2.5-inch touchscreen with video playback and Bluetooth capabilities. It also contains a Lightning connector instead of a 30-pin port.

Seeds of other future devices

This iPod nano had an unexpected extra lifespan because some users strapped one to their wrists and therefore had an Apple Watch years before anyone else.

AppleInsider Writer Wesley Hilliard says he loved his iPod nano watch. “A computer on my wrist,” he says. “Just unheard of at the time. I used wired headphones in my jacket sleeve to listen to music.”

In theory, it was users like him who inspired Jony Ive and co to develop the Apple Watch, which will be released in 2015. It’s more likely that the Watch was already planned, but the popularity of this unplanned watch must have helped .

Maybe no one continued to use the iPod nano as a wristwatch after the Apple Watch came out, but it continued to be sold. The humble screenless iPod shuffle, released in 2010, was available for seven years. The fourth generation variant of this line had a simple design with nothing but click controls and a headphone jack.

The iPod legacy lives on in devices and services like HomePod and Apple Music, and podcasts.

The iPod legacy lives on in devices and services like HomePod and Apple Music, and podcasts.

While the iPod’s popularity waned once streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music gained traction, they lasted longer than expected. That’s mainly because of the longevity of the iPod touch – and for reasons beyond the mainstream market.

The end of an era

When this latest iPod touch debuted, it was already underpowered. It was an A8 machine, in an A10 world, behind the curve from birth.

Apple called it a good starter device or a good machine for kids. It was less that than it was an entrepreneurial machine, which is why he lived so long.

It is used by thousands in businesses, restaurants and amusement parks. Instead of a thousand-dollar iPhone, this iPod touch was stuck in custom-made cases, built-in with extended batteries and card readers, or special RF readers, or one of many peripherals.

So even though consumers won’t be able to buy them once supplies run out, they will still be around for a while. We have already discovered that Enterprise Supplies is a different storage bin than Consumables.

So while the iPod branding may be gone, it’s more than just a nebulous influence that Apple talked about in its press release this morning that will be felt. They will still be part of everyday life for at least a few more years.

And who knows. Enterprise customers may be crying out loud enough for a refresh in half a decade. Stranger things have happened, and Apple has inexplicably kept other products like the iPad 2 and Apple Watch Series 3 longer.

Grab an iPod while you can

Apple retailers still have stock in stock, so if you want to pick up an iPod touch, head over to Amazon or B&H Photography. And to compare our prices on the remaining offer, visit our iPod touch price guide.


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