Ten Years of the iPod - A Celebration!

I remember many important musical events. I know where I was when Lennon died, when Live Aid rocked the world and when Wacko Jacko died from too much of his special milk, etc etc.

But I have no idea where I was when Apple launched the iPod on October 23rd 2001. Most likely I didn’t give a shit about it, or I was ignoring it in the hope it would fail. But I have no idea when in entered the world. In fact I don’t remember seeing my first iPod until the third generation appeared. It struck me initially as being clunky and unimpressive. I’d go as far to say I told the owner of the device (a manager of a well known band) that I thought it was nice but pointless. Two years into the iPod and I still thought it was nothing more than a fad, a gadget that would sit in a drawer beside my already defunct minidisc player.

I didn’t buy my first iPod until July 2005 when the fourth generation iPod appeared, and only then once they’d introduced a colour version with 60gb hard drive (now four years into it’s existence). Finally they’d created the iPod that an audiophile like me could appreciate.

The beginning of 2004 saw the first mini’s make their way into the stores and Apple started to gain mass appeal. Prices for these entry devices 4gb meant everybody could have an iPod. In reality they were horrible devices, felt cheap in comparison to the ‘Classic’ models but were priced accordingly and helped or more likely ensured apple would dominate the marketplace. The mini lasted one more incarnation with options of a 4 or 6gb hard drive. However the Nano, introduced in September 2005 quickly became the entry device of choice with it’s colour screen and slim futuristic stick like quality saw Apple take a 74% stake in the marketplace. The 6th incarnation of the Nano was launched in September 2010, five years after the model launch and has set new levels of usability and functionality.

One device that I didn’t want to mention as I personally loathe it (but it has to be added to complete the picture) is the basic Apple Shuffle, introduced during 2005 just before the Nano. It found a niche, due to its low price and in latter models, funky colours with people looking to buy a technology gift. In my opinion painfully restricted 512mb storage at launch and a useless 2gb today. To my disdain, five years and four incarnations on the shuffle still exists at a £40 entry point. No matter how much I hate it though, even the USB spec Shuffle 1 sold over 10 million units. However I’ll never understand why people would want such a limited device.

The iPod technology took a huge leap forward (in some respects) during 2007 with the launch of the iPod Touch. The first iPod with Wifi and a multi touch surface. For the first time ever a device that played music had the ability to search and buy it within the unit. Quite frankly it was a creation of genius. It looked sexy, it played video, did a multitude of things that we didn’t see coming. But after all that for those few of us with 70,000 songs all saved as Apple Lossless format it was still woefully under resourced as a storage device, thus us, the real music lover had only one option, to stick with our iPod Classic. Four generation’s on the biggest storage still sits at a meagre 64gb. Yes it has a camera, yes it does everything you could want but it still doesn’t store my hard earned music collection….yes ladies and gentlemen, I’ve paid for my music! and apple still don’t make a Touch to stick it all on.

The recent announcement of the apple cloud goes some way to limiting the need for such space requirement and hopefully will prove to be another genius move from the now sadly deceased Steve Jobs. Ten years on and Apple have sold over 275 million iPod units.

I am sure the future of the brand is very bright. I’m sure there is much evolution in the product however the revolution in mobile audio is very much over. I am also sure there is nothing more we should ever need. Apple made the best device, made it affordable and made it feel like an event. Apple Accessories sell in the millions, hundreds of thousands of iPod docks and players litter stores like Comet, PC World and now ironically and tragically HMV (the last bastion of music is now reduced to selling items that mean you buy your music elsewhere – somebody 'feel free to ask us' needs to be let loose inside that company to realign it's focus!)

So there we have it, Ten years of the iPod in a nutshell. The iTunes software has lovers and haters, record labels blame Apple for destroying the music industry and the supplied 'earbuds' were awful sounding at best, but that’s all for another day. This week let us all plug in our iPods, turn them on and rejoice at these wonderful devices. I suggest we all shout about it, really loud, 10 years old!…..what? nope, sorry you’ll have to shout louder…..I’m a little deaf nowadays!