The iPod Turns Ten – Still Rules the Market

Posted by at 10:41 am on October 24, 2011

Apple’s iPod on Sunday marked its tenth anniversary. The MP3 player was unveiled on October 23, 2001 at an event in Apple’s Town Hall at its Cupertino headquarters in what’s now considered one of the late Steve Jobs’ crowning achievements. Its first iPod, available in just a 5GB capacity with only Mac and FireWire support, reached stores on November 10 that year for $399.

Many questioned the wisdom of Apple getting into portable devices and MP3 players in particular, especially in the economic plunge due to 911. Apple was still struggling and was introducing one of the most expensive MP3 players in the field to a limited audience. The iPod had been preceded by other MP3 players, including Rio’s lineup, but many consider the iPod the first to establish MP3 to the mass market and get the experience right.

The iPod’s momentum grew slowly during its first two years. Windows users initially didn’t have any support and only got makeshift support through third-party apps like MusicMatch; 2002-era Windows users often had to get a FireWire add-on card. It wasn’t until April 2003, with the launch of the third-generation iPod with USB as well as the iTunes Music Store, that iPod sales started accelerating in earnest as it both opened up the audience of Windows users and gave Mac users a place to shop for content. The launch of iTunes for Windows that fall was an even larger help since it gave Windows users the full feature set and music store.

The day before Steve Jobs‘ death a couple of us here at TOT had a diner with Jim Barry, CEA’s Digital Answer Man, and he pointed one of the most remarkable things about the iPod – “Even 10 years into the game, it still leads the field. Sony never did the with the Walkman”

While many will say the iPhone or iPad are Steve’s crown jewels while retuning to Apple. Without the iPod, those would not have happened. Happy Birthday iPod!!!

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