Evolution of iPod

BDES 1001: Digital Media and Computing History: Assignment #1

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Quick History of the iPod Nano


IPod may not be the first MP3 Player but it was the first to influence and invent a whole new category of digital music player much like the good old Walkman did for analog audio, that lets users listen and put their entire music collection wherever they go, in a fit of their pocket. As Steve Job said during the first launch in 2001 conference, “With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.”

The device itself was much more than your typical MP3 player, it provided larger scale of storage, use of FireWire to transfer music much faster, compatible with both Mac and PC operating systems and a combination of hardware and software such as iTunes that made it easier to use than any other that was out in the market. Thanks to the iPod’s far-reaching impact over the last decade, you can see electronics are no longer a stand-alone product. They connect to a wide arrange of software and online services such as the Internet T.V. connecting to Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, etc.

You begin to see that Apple is becoming a brand that it well known for its highly functional interface and diverse services to achieve the 6 usability goals (i.e. effective, efficient, safety, utility, learnability and memorability) and the general concept of design principles (i.e. visibility, feedback, constraints, consistency and affordance) for their users.

Usability Goals for IPod Nano (5th Generation)


Effectiveness: Capable for users to learn and access through their choice of music, photos and videos that they want or need by using iTunes as well as transferring music to any Macs or Windows operating systems.

Efficiency: The iPod is portable, compact and capable for users to enjoy toggling through the scroll-wheel to access through their playlist and sustain a high productivity of music playing

anywhere they go while still carrying out their own daily task, whether it was to go to the gym or during the subway ride to work, etc.

Safety: The interactive system allows the users to confidently pick their choice of song, add and delete multiple songs to their created playlist (flexibility) as well as explore the realm of iTunes music playing by adding optional information (add album artwork, genre, title, etc.). While still making sure if the user is sure they want to delete a song, playlist, contact, video or photo with a confirmatory dialog boxes that give the users another chance to consider their intentions.

Utility: The simplicity of the iPod’s design speaks for itself. Aside from their sleek and colourful options to choose from, there were no unnecessary buttons or wheels. Just one element scrollwheel that enables the user to navigate intuitively through the product’s entire music library.

Learnability & Memorability: iPod’s simple interface is optimized for music playing. The “fun” scrollwheel let users easily move through large lists, as well as with a visible dial for you to skip, rewind, pause and play a song. The device’s pocket-sized ergonomics with a narrow body and large screen was comfortable to use as well.

The physical affordance of rotating the scroll-wheel with your thumb, having it pocket-sized friendly and having it easily grip into your palm of your hands was something users were really content with their experience. The feedback to shake to shuffle your music was also very unique and a useful affordance, as well as the consistent interfaces with other Apple products and services were all interconnected in one hub.


The addictive nature of all of these pieces created an amazing user experience that just wasn’t possible with anything else on the market. Apple was the company to truly think of the central activity of purchasing, organizing, and listening to music as well as designing their ecosystem to make that activity a pleasurable experience from beginning to end, which created a digital lifestyle. In 2001, Steve Jobs reveals Apple’s Digital Hub Strategy, which was connected to Apple’s first portable ecosystem devices, the iPod. He addressed that his computer strategy and release of the iPod as part of a wider, social and cultural vision of the role of digital media in peoples’ everyday lives, which was called the “new digital lifestyle.” He believed PC and the Mac, can become the digital hub of the new emerging digital lifestyle, with the ability to add a great value to these other digital devices. He saw that benefits of combining hardware, operating system, the application, the Internet, and marketing to create this solution to these important components under one roof. Computers then became hubs linking multiple personal digital devices.

Even the iPod’s headphones were strategically designed. The white headphones were a great asset and advertisement for the iPods. Consumers became to realize it’s great quality and aesthetics that they were apparently stories of people switching to the black headphones because of thieves were targeting the white ones.

Before the iPod, it was all about burning CDs. Once the iPod arrived with iTunes becoming the management software, it created this flexibility for users to construct their playlists, rearrange songs, and load them in and out of their iPod using the USB cable. It revolutionized how people listen to music because it was portable, you didn’t need a flash player or disks for music. When the first iPhone arrived in 2007, iTunes still served the same role. It was even required for activating the phone when setting it up at home, having the computer running iTunes was an essential part of the process. At this point, technology revolved much more after the multitouch screen interface was used and introduced.


Balbi, Gabriele and Paolog Magaudda. 2018. “Chapter 2: The Computer” A History of Digital Media: An Intermedia and Global Perspective. New York: Routledge.