The Evolution of the iPod: 10 Years and Counting

It’s hard to imagine life without an iPod. It’s been embedded into our everyday lives and incorporated into popular culture. It’s changed the way we listen to music, watch videos, play games, exercise, drive, interact with friends and more! Apple’s iconic media player even changed the music industry, shaking up its entire foundation. It’s been 10 years since the iPod’s introduction and throughout the years it’s been revamped into an even better version of itself, but one thing always remains the same…it’s one of the best devices of our century!

The Beginning: 2001

Back when it was first introduced on October 23, 2001, the iPod was welcomed with less than stellar reviews. In what was predominately a Windows-based world, and hardcore techies didn’t think it would really make a huge impact on the industry. Boy, were they wrong!

With intentions to enter the very popular personal digital device market that was beginning to take off, Apple decided to enter it with its own rendition, but didn’t want to make it big or clunky as others had been. When the late Steve Jobs showed off the first generation iPod, he promised “1,000 songs in your pocket” for $400. Instead, he delivered an entirely new gadget that has grown into the world’s leading way we listen to music, as well as helped propel other such devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Like all first versions, it was expensive, especially for only being 5GB (nothing compared to what’s out there now). It was white and very boxy; about the size of a deck of cards. While it wasn’t exactly clunky, it was a bit bulky. The interface was simple with its mechanical scroll wheel that dictated its functions on the small black-and-white screen. What made it so cool was that the spinning wheel interface as fun and new, which is what helped give the new iPod an edge over the competition. A new era of music was officially born.


iPod 2G: 2002

A year after its debut, Apple give its fairly new iPod some minor updates. First the price is now cut to $299, making it more affordable to the masses for the 5 GB. Then begins the cycle of offering different and more expensive versions of the gadgets. The new 10 GB and 20 GB version are born, selling for $399 and $499, respectively. These larger iPods now featured a touch-sensitive scroll wheel and a wired remote. But, the big news was that Window users could now use the iPod on their PC, allowing them to download music via MUSICMATCH Jukebox.


iPod 3G and iTunes Music Store: 2003

The third-gen iPod got a totally new design for the first time in April 2003, when it showed up with a new lighter and thinner enclosure. Again, Apple did some price adjusting, launching the 10 GB at $299, but also dropped a new 15 GB for $399 and 30 GB for $499. But then later in September, Apple decided to just upgrade the two more expensive ones to 20 GB and 40GB. The era for bigger and better for Apple’s iPod was in full force…and only three years from its birth!


iPod Mini: 2004

Aww, the iPod Mini that so many love came to be right at the beginning of the year, when Steve Jobs announced that 2 million iPods had been sold thus far and showed us the baby iPod. Half the size of the original one, the iPod Mini was the first to get some color (enclosure-wise). They came in silver, gold, pink, blue or green and were made of anodized aluminum. The iPod had now entered the fashion world! But that’s not all the Mini did. It was also the first to include Apple’s new-styled “click wheel” instead of the scroll one. Since it was half the size of an iPod, it was also priced so, coming it at $249 for a 4 GB model, offering 1,000 songs.

Color Screen iPod: 2004

After the success of the colorful iPod Minis that debuted earlier that year, Apple decided it was time to bring some color to the iPod’s screens and unveiled a new version in October 2004. It was capable of storing 25,000 digital photos, but we’re not sure if anyone if did that, but it was still cool, nonetheless!

iPod Shuffle: 2005

Deciding that the iPod Mini was still too big, Apple dropped their iPod Shuffle the very next year. They weren’t wasting any time trying to take over the digital device market with every kind of size imaginable. The MP3 player was “smaller and lighter than a pack of gum,” according to Jobs. Apple marketed the new version as a random way to listen to your music, making it perfect for those on the go and who liked a compact version of the iPod while out exercising or whatnot. IT plugged into a USB drive and had 512 MB of storage, which was 120 songs, for $100. It also brought out a larger version 1 GB for $149, which held 240 tunes.

iPod Nano: 2005

So the Shuffle wasn’t small enough, or the Mini, which brought the new iPod Nano. Slimmer, thinner and lighter than any of the previous versions, its claim to fame was that it was “thinner than a standard No. 2 pencil.” Not only was it the smallest one with a screen in the fairly short history of the iPod, but it had the smallest capacity for an iPod with a screen. It sold for $199 for the 2 GB version and $249 for the 4 GB one. Despite having less capacity, the Nano was a success!

iPod Video: 2005

Apple had a big year in 2005, with the Shuffle and Nano and its new iPod video that they released in October. Not only was it a music device, a hard drive for pictures, but the new video could also hold up to 150 hours of video and boasted a high-res display. Also notable, was that it was the first time a full-sized iPod came in another color besides white; black was now an option.


iPod & Nike Collaboration: 2006

As if Apple wasn’t a huge iconic company on its own, it decided to partner up with Nike, which was one of the first extensions of Apple’s non-music platform marketing. So Nike made special shoes that synched with the iPod Nano to store data on exercise and the like. It did wonders for athletes everywhere.


iPhone & iPod Touch: 2007

From the great iPod came the idea to make a phone from the same concept…and volia! The iPhone was born. Taking a lot from its famous iPod, the iPhone was Apple’s first phone that featured touch controls, including “swiping” through menus. The iPhone has obviously become its own iconic device, but that’s an entirely different post! While the iPod might have inspired what many believe is the best phone on the planet, the iPhone inspired something great on the iPod…a new touchscreen version. Basically, the new iPod Touch was an iPhone without a phone. Genius, right?!

App Store & iPod revamped: 2008

Every year gets better and better for the iPod and in 2008, Apple launched it’s new App Store and the 2.0 iPod Touch that could play music, browse the web and more.


iPod Nano with Video: 2009

The iPod Nano received a video camera and FM tuner in 2009, as well as slashed the price on the Shuffle and added new color options. Again,


The Present

The iPod hasn’t exactly changed much since 2009, but the iPhone has evolved significantly. Also, the iPad is now part of the family, helping the extremely innovative company stay on top of the mobile device game.  And to think, it all spawned from the iPod.

We no longer listen to music the same way we did and the industry has felt the repercussions of it. Nobody goes to buy full-length CDs anymore at a record store; they instead download their favorite tracks online from the App Store or some other MP3 online site. Car radios don’t make a CD player an upgrade option, but have now made iPhone/iPod-enabled features standard. Life has definitely changed thanks to such a small device…has it been for the better? Hell yes and we have the Steve Jobs to thank!


The Future

It seems Apple will obviously be redesigning and upgrading their current line of successful products. For sure, expect an iPhone 5 soon and from what the rumor mill says, an Apple-based TV. But with Steve Jobs gone, his memory will obviously live on and inspire more innovative tech from Apple…at least we hope he left them in good hands.


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