Goodbye iPod: Breaking down Apple's media player over 15 years

It has been a long 15 years and it is time to finally say Goodbye to the Apple iPod.

With Apple struggling with declining smartphone (iPhone) and tablet sales (iPad) sales, it is easy to point out, that Apple wants to make a come back with its refreshed MacBook line up after ignoring it for a really long time. With Apple's current hero product, the iPhone soon running out of steam, today also marks a day that should get a bit nostalgic for some, as it has been 15 years since Apple's first hero product, the iPod was announced.


Apple iPod 2001

Steve Jobs unveiled its Apple iPod, in 2001, not knowing that it would be the company's next hero product. What he could have known was that iTunes would change the way we buy and listen to music. The first iPod featured 5GB of storage, a Firewire port for data and a rotating wheel which over the next seven years became the identity of the iPod.


Apple iPod 2003

Despite its problems, Apple had a good first run with its music player. Two whole years later, Steve Jobs showed up with an improved version of the iPod (third generation). It looked a lot different (more modern similar to the MacBooks, and less rudimentary) and this where Apple separated the click wheel from the media control keys and introduced a touch interface. While the move made it easier to navigate music collections, it added more keys and 'more keys' (in Apple's philosophy) means more spends and more parts that can get damaged. Apple would soon move back to the older set up a few generations later. What happened this year was that iTunes was now available on Windows, which would make the iPod appealing to larger Windows-happy audience as well.


Apple iPod 2004

Apple announced 2 models of the iPod with the introduction of the iPod mini. The mini was a less serious, more fun take on the iPod offering a variety of colours and was able to compete with players from Sony, Creative and others. A major leap with this generation of the standard iPod, was colour displays and the ability to store, browse and view photos.


Apple iPod 2005

Apple introduces three models of the iPod. We had an affordable iPod Shuffle, a slimmed down iPod Nano and a fifth generation iPod that could now display, photos, videos and play music. Apple improved on the 2004 model's click wheel and new design was now the standard for iPods going forward.


Apple iPod 2007

The beginning of change. This was when Apple introduced an iPhone slapped onto the back of an iPod minus it radios. It was a time when Apple began to understand that the iPod was losing out had to introduce something new. With that in mind we had the first generation of the iPod Touch and many who could not afford the iPhone, could use a Touch to run iOS apps. What was memorable about the iPod Touch was how it gave iPod users a taste of Cover flow which until now was already present on iTunes, and iPhones. Sadly, it was not meant for power users because of its low storage capacity. What it did give iPod users was a way to consume media, apps and games from the iTunes Store. In the same year, Apple introduced the iPod Classic (160GB), the name itself gave it away, that this was going to be a downward trend going forward.


Apple iPod Nano 2009

With iPhone on the rise and with flash memory becoming more reliable and popular, it was clear that Apple had to ignore the iPod, and focus on its iPhone, its next hero product. Apple started scavenging what was left of the iPod and came up with the colourful fifth generation Nano which had a different form factor. It was slim light, but offered little storage and felt more like an after thought to keep the iPod alive.


This is more so, because users would be buying, apps, games and music on the iPhone 3GS, which also connected those apps to a fast 3G connection. Times were changing.


Apple iPod Shuffle 2010

The year 2010 saw the launch of Apple's tinniest iPod, the Shuffle, it lost its stick-like form factor introduced with the first Shuffle. It was tiny and it could easily have been mistaken for a headset remote.


Apple iPhone 5se iPod hot pink

In its current form, the iPod Touch in its sixth generation does not even need to exist. It is easy to point out how the iPhone cannibalised the sales of the iPod. While things did not change immediately after the launch of the first iPhone, this could be blamed on the storage problem.

Back in 2007, Apple offered its first iPhone with 4GB, 8GB and 16GB storage capacities. Compare this to the iPod Classic which offered 160GB of storage (HDD) meaning that it was easy to pick one if you loved to carry around your music. In fact, even back then, I knew of folks who would carry around their life's worth of music in two iPod Classics. After the launch of the iPhone 4 that capacity went up to 32GB (maximum) and saw a big jump with the iPhone 5 with 64GB option available. Today's iPhone 7 takes it to another level by offering storage capacities of up to 256GB on both standard and Plus models. So why did Apple introduce the iPod Touch last year, when it also announced that it no longer disclose iPod sales going forward? Well, as Fortune points out, it is aimed at kids, who will not usually get a cellphone this early, giving them an idea about what the Apple Ecosystem has on offer.

It has been a long 15 years and it's time to finally say goodbye!

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