The end of the ipod
After 20 years Apple has made the decision to retire one of the devices that helped it become a household name, the iPod. When we talked about it in the office, surprisingly, it's a device that a lot of us remember fondly, so we thought we'd take the time to look at how it evolved throughout its lifetime.
Prior to 2001 most of us were familiar with traditional mp3 players, with the most popular ones being a large usb stick with a small display. When the iPod was launched with its distinct visual design and bold claim '1,000 songs in your pocket' it looked totally different to all those that came before it. Locked down for mac users only, it wasn't long before it saw an update.
Roughly 9 months after it's initial release Apple released an updated version, the second-gen. This is where things started to change, as the biggest revelation was the opportunity for Windows PC users to be able to use the device via the Musicmatch Jukebox software. Along with opening up to more users, they expanded the memory capacity, from 5GB to 10GB and later a 20GB version. So much room for all the tracks you were ripping from your CD's.
Apple released the 3rd Generation device. This is the one that definitely sticks out in mind, as a young whippersnapper at the time, I remember this device is the one where people started bringing them into school. Realising that 5GB was nowhere near enough memory for anyone to hoard their music. As people risked giving their computers lives with the digital equivalent of an STD and downloaded their music through sharing platforms like limewire and frostwire. They released the third gen as 10GB, 15GB and 30GB capacities, later adding 20GB and 40GB. The third Gen saw the introduction of iTunes and the Dock connector which began the spawning of all sorts of third-party accessories, like this toilet roll monstrosity!
This year Saw the introduction of the iPod Mini, iPod Photo and the 4th Gen. All of which came without the buttons which were now integrated into the click wheel, making it super easy and intuitive. The Mini was the first to come in an array of colours and the photo introduced a colour display. Over the week people have been arguing as to which part of the iPod's lifecycle was the one that affected the music industry the most and interestingly one of the features that keeps coming up, is the shuffle feature. First introduced in this generation, it gave people the opportunity to listen to their whole music collection out of order. Previously artists and record labels had claimed to spend hours working out the order of songs on an album, to have as much effect as possible, but shuffle killed this part of the industry.
Further innovation as Apple took their winning formula and shrunk it down. Introducing the iPod Nano and Shuffle as well as introducing video to the 5th Gen iPod. Making the move to flash memory over the hard drives used previously, making them skip free and avoiding the risk of dead hard drives. The shuffle and Nano, were more affordable smaller form factors, with less memory than the traditional iPod. This made owning an iPod more achievable for everyone.
A quieter year, with the range getting a facelift, the shuffle getting smaller, which led apple to claim it as 'the world's smallest mp3 player". The Nano got a revamp and all metal shell and was available in 6 different colours, brighter screens, better battery life. These were the last real iteration of the iPod as it was intended and an opinion that a few of us in the office shared, the end of an era. This was also around the time of the now famous silhouette adverts, who can forget them.
If you're reading this, then I'm sure you're aware that 2007 was a big year for apple. Having already become a household name having sold more than 88 million iPods, Apple branched out in a move that ultimately would lead to the death of the iPod. June 29th 2007 they launched the iPhone. with all the same functionality as the iPod, but with the added functionality of the phone, we know how the story goes. That same year Apple launched the iPod touch, similar to the iPhone, but without the phone part. Other than touch, the Nano and Shuffle still remained with added features on the previous versions.
Slowly but surely as the iPhone gained in popularity, and the world began to be taken over by smartphones, that have now become these multitasking devices, for music, video and social media consumption. The iPod has continued on, slowly becoming less relevant as it struggles to find a place amongst smartphones which can do everything, and the devices looking more and more like an iphone over time. We could go through them all, however when we talked about it in the office, they just weren't the same after this period.
Whilst reminiscing we all talked about the satisfying clicky wheel and how if they re-released them now, we would all snap them up in a second. If you've ever looked into why people continue to read on a kindle instead of a tablet, one of the common reasons is that everyone is trying to get your attention all the time and when you want to sit down and read, you want a device that does just that and doesn't allow you the opportunity for distraction. As people start to look for more ways to live distraction free, who knows, maybe there's room for a an 'old-school, clicky wheeled' iPod in the future. What's your thoughts?