October 25th: Happy Birthday iPod

15 years ago this week, a technology company released a product that fundamentally changed not only the music industry but, in many ways, the world of personal data forever. Thus was born Apple’s iPod.

Over the subsequent 15 years, iPods got smaller, bigger, developed larger screens and fewer buttons, and created an industry around the ownership and sharing of music. While mp3s existed before the iPod, the product became the gold standard of music portability.

Interestingly enough, the iPod is all but dead. Apple doesn’t even have iPods as a tab on their website, only a music tab where you have to scroll down to figure out how to buy one. iPods have almost entirely been swallowed by the cell phone industry. Why carry a second device when your phone can carry your music and do so much more?

While this may be true, it is impossible to ignore the influence that these early toys had on the development of the modern cell phone, and the ways in which music purchasing and sharing changed as a result of the departure from physical music sales (i.e. records, CDs, etc.)

As iPods celebrate their 15th birthday, it is very reasonable to believe that there won’t be a 16th. Yet, as the iPod specific brand passes on, it is impossible to ignore the fingerprints that they have left all over the evolution of modern technology.

See the evolution of the device on The Verge.


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