If you’ve been an Apple user for a long time, you probably remember your first iPod. For many people, it was their first MP3 player and their entry into the world of Apple. In 2022, Apple decided to discontinue the iPod for good. But we wanted to take a moment to see how this revolutionary device paved the way for today’s smartphones.
So here are all the ways the iPod made devices like the iPhone possible.
1. It was Apple’s first successful wearable device
The iPod has a long history, but you might be surprised to learn that it wasn’t Apple’s first attempt at a portable device. That title actually goes to the lesser known Apple Newton, an early PDA that launched way back in 1993. That being said, there’s a reason you probably haven’t heard of the Newton. It was not a commercial success.
The iPod, on the other hand, was a sales monster. The creation of the iPod helped Apple break into the growing portable electronics market, allowing Apple to experiment with mobile design, marketing, and user interfaces. It turned out to be a valuable experience, providing lessons that Apple would use to create the first iPhone.
Although many creatives and students swear by their Macs, today Apple is best known for producing portable devices like the iPhone and iPad, and that tradition started with the release of the first iPod.
2. It saved Apple
Even though Apple is a giant today, the company has seen more than its fair share of ups and downs in the past. In the mid-1990s, Apple was not doing very well. After a string of less-than-stellar product launches, Apple was on the verge of sinking.
That all changed when the company reinvented itself and released a slew of hugely successful products, including the first iMac, the iBook, and most importantly, the iPod. The release of the iPod brought huge amounts of attention to Apple, and with it, much-needed cash flow. In fact, in 2007, nearly half of Apple’s revenue came directly from iPod sales.
Without the iPod, Apple might not even exist today. Even if it did, it probably wouldn’t be the tech giant we know. The iPod can be considered one of the key products that brought Apple from the brink of bankruptcy to one of the biggest companies on the planet.
3. It made tech cool
The iPod did not invent the portable music player. Sony had launched the Walkman in 1979, and by the mid-90s there were tons of MP3 players on the market. But these devices were only music players, the iPod was much more.
Before the iPod, it was common to think of technology as a tool, and not much else. Unless you were in industry, computers were probably something you used for work or school, but not much more. The iPod overturned this idea.
Choosing an iPod meant you had style. You weren’t just listening to music, you were listening to music on an iPod. It was the birth of the “Apple person”. Nowadays, when a new iPhone comes out, one of the first things many people care about is the design. What materials is it made of? How has the design changed? The iPhone is as much a status symbol as a phone, and that trend started with the iPod.
4. There was a version for everyone
These days, if you are an iPhone user, you know that you have many options to choose from. Apple sells a whole range of devices under the iPhone name, ranging from the high-end Pro Max, which can cost thousands of dollars, to the iPhone SE, which is designed to be more affordable.
But this idea of creating a device for everyone started with the iPod. When the iPod was first launched, there was only one design, with only one color: white. While that lasted a few years, Apple slowly but surely started giving consumers more choice. Eventually, we saw the iPod line grow into a huge product line. There were iPod minis, iPod shuffles, iPod nanos and finally the iPod touch, all in different colors.
Just like iPhones today, there was an iPod for everyone.
Before the launch of the iTunes Store in 2003, there weren’t many options for putting music on the iPod. Many people were still burning physical CDs. That all changed when the iTunes Store launched.
iTunes has become Apple’s single music marketplace for the iPod. The iTunes Store has transformed the iPod from a simple music player into part of an entire ecosystem. iTunes not only made music more accessible, it also made it cheaper. In the past, people often ended up buying whole albums just to get a few songs. On iTunes, instead of buying an entire album, you can preview and buy just the songs you want, and you can do it all without leaving home.
iTunes became a huge hit, and Apple later expanded it to include movies, podcasts, and more. Today, it seems like almost everyone subscribes to a music streaming service. Whether you’re a die-hard Spotify user or prefer Apple Music, today you can access millions of songs for a low monthly fee. But these types of streaming services might not have existed without iTunes and the iPod.
The iPod legacy lives on
After a 21-year run, Apple finally discontinued the iPod in 2022. Even though the iPod’s history is now over, it will always be remembered as one of the most successful and influential products in the world. ‘Apple. Money talks, and 450 million units sold speak for themselves.
Although many people may think of devices like the iPod as “just” an MP3 player, this little music player not only saved Apple, but made products like the iPhone possible.
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