Happy 15th Birthday to the iPod!

Sam
Sam
Oct 24, 2016 · 4 min read

On the 23rd of October, 2001 Steve Jobs announced the iPod, the gadget that put “1,000 songs in your pocket” and changed the course of the music industry forever. “With iPod, Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go,” said Steve Jobs as the first iPod launched in 2001. “With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.”

The iPod had a 5GB hard drive storing 1,000 songs. It became hugely successful due to it’s incredibly small size due to the smaller hard drive, it’s user intuitive design and the iPod had a rated battery life of ten hours (which we could say the same about the iPhone).

The iPod was born from Apple’s “digital hub” strategy. Here’s how Jobs introduced his plan:

“We are living in a new digital lifestyle with an explosion of digital devices. It’s huge. And we believe the PC, or more importantly the Mac, can become the digital hub of our new emerging digital lifestyle, with the ability to add tremendous value to these other digital devices..”

Watch Steve Jobs reveal the iPod here:

They explored the idea of Digital cameras, camcorders but they were already established. On the other hand, digital music players were found to be “big and clunky or small and useless” with user interfaces that were “unbelievably awful”.

The iPod’s design is iconic. Design museums around the world display iPods proudly.

“The iPod truly ushered in the era of portable digital consumer electronics, much as the Walkman did for analog audio,” states Jordan Selburn, principal analyst of consumer electronics at IHS-iSuppli.

“When the first iPod was put into the market in 2001, it was a breakthrough and changed portable music from scratch” — Zec. “There are only few products that shaped the lifestyle of a generation, found its way into popular culture and became the archetype of an entire product group like this.”

The iPod had an enormous effect on the UI/UX of consumer electronics, completely changing the game from the day it was launched.

iPod cutaway by Silvan Linn

Let’s not forget the The iPod’s signature Click Wheel. The iPod had five buttons that were integrated into the click wheel — a design which gives an uncluttered, minimalist interface:

The iPod’s signature Click Wheel

“The simplicity of the iPod’s design speaks for itself: There are no unnecessary buttons or wheels, just one single element to navigate intuitively through the product’s entire music library.”

“When the first iPod was put into the market in 2001, it was a breakthrough and changed portable music from scratch”, continues Zec. “There are only few products that shaped the lifestyle of a generation, found its way into popular culture and became the archetype of an entire product group like this.”

The first ipod ad

The initial reaction from the public wasnt always good. Critics thought it was too expensive and does too little. “All that hype for an MP3 player? Break-thru digital device?” said one commenter on MacRumors forums.

As an example, there’s this:

hey — heres an idea Apple — rather than enter the world of gimmicks and toys, why dont you spend a little more time sorting out your pathetically expensive and crap server line up? or are you really aiming to become a glorified consumer gimmicks firm?

Another one

I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! Who cares about an MP3 player? I want something new! I want them to think differently! Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!

“Music is a part of everyone’s life,” Steve Jobs said, “and because it’s a part of everyone’s life, it’s a very large target market all around the world. It knows no boundaries.” The ipod showed no boundaries, it spiraled off into something amazing, changing the relationship between the tech and music industry. Look at how we consume music now.

“The genius of the iPod was (and still is, with the iPhone) that, while the music industry actually believed that it had found a good (i.e., closed and controlled) way to extract money from otherwise freeloading consumers, the iTunes/iPod/iPhone ecosystem became the dominant hardware solution for the consumption of free music.”

On September 9, 2014, Apple announced that it would no longer be making the iPod Classic. Apple CEO Tim Cook later explained. “It wasn’t a matter of me swinging the ax, saying ‘what can I kill today?’ The engineering work was massive, and the number of people who wanted it very small.” RIP to the iPod, you may not be here anymore but your impact lives on forever.

Sam

Written by

Sam

@samworldpeace

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