A Short History of Apple Part 2 - iPod Changes Music Forever

Apple dominate the portable music sector, having sold in excess of 300 million iPods and a market share of 78% to date. We explore how they revolutionise music.

In 2001 and with many observers stating that personal computers were on the demise, Steve Jobs announced the creation of the Digital Hub. In essence, the computer would be the centre piece of technology enabling users to control all of their digital devices. As part of this revolution, Apple began creating software that would be intergrated into existing devices and computers such as cameras and PDA's but when they looked at personal music players, Jobs was left unimpressed by the lack of available models. Indeed, he described them as having limited features and that they were difficult to use and immediately began to look at Apple creating their own. Jobs formed a creative team that included Jonathan Ive, the creative force behind The iMac and within a year they introduced the first iPod, a name chosen by Vinnie Chieco who was working at the time as a copywriter. He saw similarities in the relationship between the new music player and a computer and that of an EVA Pod and spaceship in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although the name had already been registered previously and used for a brand of internet kiosks, as the company had since folded, the copyright owner was persuaded to sign it over to Apple in 2005. The device initially came with a 5GB hard drive, mechanical scroll wheel and black and white LCD display. Priced at $399 and with a tag line of ' A thousand songs in your pocket', the first generation initially sold well although users were limited by the fact that it was only Mac compatible and that they had to use iTunes to copy music onto the device. The following year, Apple released a 10GB version and four months later came the second version, a device that was Windows compatible but used Musicmatch Software instead of iTunes. The new version had a replaced, touch-sensitive wheel, FireWire port and a slightly rounder appearance. In 2003, Apple decided to completely overhaul the iPod, giving it a new all- touch interface and slimmer design but dropped support for Musicmatch, instead users had to use iTunes as well as a new USB dock to sync music. Just over a year later, Apple released the iPod fourth generation which again was slightly slimmer and had another re-designed wheel. The fourth generation sold well and led to the introduction of the premium version which came with a colour LCD screen and was capable of displaying photos as well as music. At the same time, Apple began to charge users extra for items they had previously bundled with the iPod, such as dock and FireWire cable, citing the fact that most users already owned the required accessories and that they would save on packaging and resources. Many critics, however saw this as just a way for Apple to ultimately charge customers more. 2005 saw the fifth version released which brought features such as the ability to play videos through its QVGA screen in MP4 format.. Along with a new design, the iPod was available in black or white and had a plastic front. The fifth version was also the first that was capable of playing games that users could download from the iTunes store although it no longer came with an installation disk. Instead users had to download the latest version of iTunes in order to start using it. The sixth version was introduced in 2007 and came with a aluminium front plate, extended battery life and the white option was dropped for the first time, instead being replaced by a silver design. Since its creation, the iPod Classic has been available in various special editions including U2, Madonna and Harry Potter, each with specific designed cases. Although the iPod classic continues to sell well today, it is thought that Apple are looking to discontinue the range and instead focus more on its flash based models. Apple currently have four variations of iPods available - the iPod Classic, iPod Touch which has features including a touch screen display, front and rear cameras and Internet browsing), iPod Nano, a small form iPod which sold over a million units in 17 days and has an fm radio and multi touch interface but initially suffered from reports of the screen becoming scratched through normal usage and the iPod Shuffle which was the first model to use flash memory. The Shuffle was introduced to enable Apple to break into the lower end of the MP3 market and although critics complained about a lack of specs, it has gone on to sell over 10 million units worldwide. Apple continue to dominate the portable music sector, having sold in excess of 300 million iPods and a market share of 78%, however with most Mobile Phones having the ability to download and play media files, Apple will have to continue to create specific features to convince users that iPods still have a role to play.
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