The iPod has been around since 2001 and since then it has gone through a lot of changes. Although digital music players had been around before then, Apple really revolutionised what it meant to carry around your music in your pocket. Whereas before MP3 players had quite clunky interfaces and unappealing aesthetics, Apple turned this around and presented the slick and cool iPod.
Apple’s desire to bring out their own MP3 player was headed by CEO Steve Jobs and hardware engineering chief Jon Rubinstein. They assembled a team of hardware, software and designer engineers to develop the music player. On a trip to Toshiba, Rubinstein saw the small 1.8 inch hard disk that they had developed. They were not sure what it could be used in, but Rubinstein realised it would be a perfect fit for the iPod. Although the development schedule was rushed and hectic, the team managed to successfully finish the product in time. Not only did it function well, but the minimalist design of the iPod was hugely successful and influential throughout all industries.
The name iPod was thought up by a freelance copywriter. He was part of a group Apple had hired to try and figure out how to present their new MP3 player to the general public. The copywriter, Vinnie Chieco, saw similarities between Apple’s device and that of the white equipment in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, Apple found that the trademark for iPod was already in use by a man in New Jersey who was using it for internet kiosks. Eventually these products were discontinued and the trademark was assigned to Apple.
The first iPod launched in October 2001 and came, at first, with 5 GB capacity. This model had a mechanical scroll wheel and had the tagline that you could have “1000 songs in your pocket”. Success of the iPod was almost overnight.
It wasn’t long before the second generation of iPod was born. In July 2002, a new model was introduced with 5 GB, 10 GB and 20 GB capacities. This saw the introduction of the touch wheel (doing away with the mechanical buttons) that is still in use today on the iPad Classic.
Various different models of the iPod launched each year, introducing increased storage, smaller device size and a colour screen. In January 2005 the iPad Shuffle was launched and the iPod Nano (now using flash memory) followed just a month later. Towards the end of the year came the fifth generation iPod, the first to play video. September 2007 saw the introduction of the iPod Touch, offering what was essentially an iPhone without the phone.
iPods became the swish, hip accessory to have. The white headphones were instantly connected to the brand. 2008 was the biggest year for the iPod, in which it sold well over 50 million units worldwide. The iPod continues to sell well (although sales are on the decline) through a variety of different models, colours and capacity sizes. Although, who knows where the future lies for the iPod in the world of the all-encompassing smartphones…?