Posted by Billyjam, November 10, 2009 11:05am | Post a Comment
The Apple iPod turns the big 8 today. On the morning of November 10th, 2001, Apple first began selling its original version of the iPod MP3 music player. Pictured left, that original iPod sold for $399 + tax, and was marketed as an "Ultra-Portable MP3 Music Player" that "puts 1,000 Songs in Your Pocket."

Up to that point there had been many types/brands of MP3 players around (I knew a lot of folks who favored using their MiniDiscs as MP3 players) but no company had streamlined and made an MP3 player as user friendly as Apple did with the iPod. In 2001 it came with a 5GB hard drive, coupled with the first scrolling wheel and interface on an MP3 player.

Of course, in retrospect, compared to the variety of models of iPods and other MP3 players available to us today, this prototype iPod seems both bulky and pricey in contrast. Such is the way in this fast paced, ever-changing digital age. But what is most significant about the iPod is that in eight short years, it has not only changed the fortunes of the company that manufactures it (just as Apple's next big hit, the iPhone -- almost at 45 million in unit sales -- has similarly done), but it also has altered how the world listens to and consumes music.

Immediately before its commercial release back in late 2001, the iPod was being billed as the coming "Next Generation Player" and boy, that could not have been closer to the truth, since it literally signaled the generation of music consumers to come. The iPod was largely instrumental in changing everything to do with music; from listening to it, to buying or acquiring it, to selling, sharing, & storing music, etc, from that point on. In fact, in the music business that date, November 10th, 2001, could well be considered the watershed moment that divides two eras: BiP/AiP (Before iPod and After iPod).

Two and a half weeks before that date, on October 23rd, 2001, Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO prophetically said in a statement from the company's Cupertino, CA headquarters, “With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again...Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you iPodput your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go."

I remember back to this time eight years ago when the iPod was first trickling into the market place and how some luddite-like cynics scoffed at those foolish enough to fork over $400 for what some labeled "a glorified CD player." I also remember stories of iPod owners, easily identified by the trademark white earbuds, being held up and robbed of their valuable iPods by thieves on BART and buses in the Bay Area and being warned to use other types of headphones so that they wouldn't be so easily targeted.

In the final seven and a half weeks of 2001 when the original iPod was first made available it sold 125,000 units. In the eight years since, iPod's cumulative sales have exceeded 220 million units. And that figure represents a lot more than sales of one electronic product -- it represents a whole shift in how music is now consumed in the years AiP.

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Bart (5), Steve Jobs (4), Ipod Apple (1), Music (15)