An Integrated History of the iPod: From 2001–2022

The iPod is officially being discontinued by Apple after more than 20 years. After discontinuing production of the majority of MP3 players over the past few years, Apple will also stop producing the remaining devices in 2022.

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The popularity of Apple’s music player had a significant impact on both the company and the rest of the globe, as can be seen by looking back at the history of the iPod. Let’s reflect back on that history and recall the iPod’s existence, from its inception in 2001 through its demise in 2022.

The first iPod, from 2001 to 2003

On October 23, 2001, the original iPod was released. The all-white music player, about the size of a deck of cards, weighed 6.5 ounces and featured 5GB of storage. It could store and play roughly 1,000 songs thanks to this, which was more than any other MP3 player at the time could manage.

The design of what became known as the iPod classic line was based on the first iPod, which set the bar for other devices to follow. The scroll wheel and center choose button was used to navigate these square, rectangular iPods. As opposed to being incorporated with the wheel like subsequent models, the scroll wheel on the first iPod had buttons surrounding it. When the touch click wheel and iPod mini were developed in 2004, the extra buttons would no longer be needed.

iPod commercials at this time, commercial songs were used to promote iPods just as much. While dancing with their white iPods against vividly colored backgrounds, black figures would play music. Finally, these advertisements gained the same notoriety as the iPod.

Fortunately, the launch of the iTunes Store in 2003 and the need for greater song storage coincided with the iPod’s storage capacity reaching a peak of 40GB. However, the iTunes Store didn’t launch until April 28, 2003, even though iTunes has been around as a media player since 1999. You could purchase albums in MP3 format as well as single songs for $0.99 apiece through it, which was the sole legal digital library for all major record labels.

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The iPod gets smaller in 2004–2005

In 2001, the iPod was always quite compact as compared to other MP3 players. But that didn’t stop Apple from shrinking it. On February 20, 2004, Apple introduced the iPod mini, which was approximately half as heavy as the original iPod at 3.6 ounces. The iPod mini came in a variety of colors, just like the first iMac versions. However, it only had 4GB of storage, which was a quite tiny amount. If the iPod nano hadn’t become more popular and forced the mini’s discontinuation, it may have changed.

The iPod nano, which was unveiled on September 7, 2005, was 1.6 by 3.5 by 0.27 inches and weighed under 1.5 ounces. When it was first released, it was available in a variety of colors and in 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB capacities. In 2006, it would acquire an 8GB capacity.

The iPod shuffle, a new tiny iPod, was also unveiled and released in 2005. The 0.78-ounce shuffle had a 512MB or 1GB storage capacity and no screen (2GB capacity became available in 2008). Although the shuffle was more expensive than the nano, it was more difficult to use. Users could only navigate the internal song list using the forward and back buttons due to the absence of a screen.

Additionally, the shuffle was unable to handle playlists; instead, users may choose to play music in the order in which they were uploaded or in a random, “shuffled” manner. Therefore, people were exchanging size and travel convenience for the quantity of music they could listen to. It was a worthwhile sacrifice for many. In the coming years, though, making that decision would be more difficult if the iPod could accommodate media other than music.

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Don’t Just Listen, Watch Your iPod in 2005–2006

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A version of the iPod with an LCD screen that could store and display images was called the iPod photo, and it was released by Apple in 2004. A video-capable iPod was unveiled by Apple on October 12, 2005. For more screen real estate, the iPod video has a smaller click wheel. In its first introduction, it had a maximum storage capacity of 60GB, however, the next generation’s models had maximum storage capacities of 80GB and extended movie playback periods.

You may add your own videos to the iPod video as well as buy and download movies and TV shows from iTunes to store there. Over the following few years, the purchase of TV series and movies digitally underwent a significant transition that significantly altered media consumption and extended the iPod’s useful life. By introducing the iPhone, Apple would alter the playing field once more for themselves, and the iPod would follow suit.

The iPod gets a touchscreen in 2007–2008

After years of advancements and firsts for smartphones, the iPhone was released in August 2007. However, it is debatable whether the iPhone is to blame for making smartphones a commonplace part of daily life. The iPod touch was also influenced by the iPhone. Similar to the iPhone, the iPod touch debuted in September 2007 and featured a sizable touchscreen as well as a Home button.

Like the iPhone, the iPod touch could connect to the internet via Wi-Fi, enabling users to both stream and download music and video to the device. On both devices, users may use most of the same apps, including chat apps, and play the same games.

The key distinctions between the iPhone and the iPod touch were that the latter was unable to access cellular data and lacked cameras, whereas the former did. The iPod touch was a fantastic choice for consumers who desired some iPhone features but didn’t want a full smartphone because it was slightly less expensive than the iPhone due to the absence of these functions.

The generations of iPods based on the original iPod design were given the label iPod classic rather than just iPod with the introduction of the iPod touch. Later iPod nano models also got touchscreens thanks to it.

Playing with Shapes and Features from 2009 to 2013

Apple modified the form of the iPod nano a bit during the ensuing years, but the iPod classic and iPod touch didn’t undergo many significant changes.

The fifth-generation iPod Nano, which is widely regarded as the forerunner to the Apple Watch, was released in September 2010. This particular iPod featured a tiny square with a touchscreen and a clip on the rear that allowed users to attach it to themselves or to a watch band. It may function as both an iPod and a digital watch by initially displaying the time when the screen is touched.

In 2010, cameras were added to the iPod touch, enabling FaceTime calls similar to those made on iPhones.

Other than that, most iPod models now have longer battery lives and all of them now have more storage space. Most iPods now come with VoiceOver, and some even come with voice control. Some iPods have FM radio channels that they could connect to for live music.

But the core of the iPods was the same. They have some extra functions on top of being digital music players. This apparent stagnation may have been a sign of the iPod’s demise in the future.

The iPod’s Final Chapters from 2014 to 2022

The iPod classic would no longer be produced, Apple stated in 2014. For the iPod nano and iPod shuffle, similar announcements were made in 2017. Although the sixth generation of the iPod touch was released in July 2015 and the seventh generation was released in May 2019, the iPod touch was still being produced during that time.

It turned out that Apple would stop producing iPods after the seventh generation iPod touch. A 256GB storage variant was available, and it had an A10 processor. Unlike the newer iPhones, which lack a headphone jack, it also had a 3.5mm audio jack.

Apple did, however, declare that it would also stop producing the iPod touch in May 2022, which was three years later. Purchases of iPods from Apple are still possible as of this writing, but only while supplies last.

Apple’s decision to discontinue producing iPods isn’t exactly shocking, given that many people are wondering what to do with their old iPods rather than purchasing ones these days. Just that such a well-liked technology fizzled away in such a comparatively brief period of time is noteworthy.

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End of an Era

In just two short decades, the iPod went from being a product that was a must-have to one that was essentially useless. The iPod is much to blame for how we currently consume music and the explosion of digital media sales. These developments paved the way for streaming services, which the iPod, however, was unable to compete with. It introduced a period in which it couldn’t contend.

So, even as we bid the iPod farewell, we do so with the knowledge that Apple is correct to do so and that so much of the technology we adore would not exist if it weren’t for the iPod. Thus, we really appreciate your contribution to the world, iPod.

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