RIP iPod: A Look Back at One of the Best Loved Tech Products of All Time
Last month, Apple announced it would be taking its faithful iPod Classic out of its online store altogether, after 13 years of sales from the humble product.
Now however, things look more bleak for the Classic and its successors, as Apple has revealed that all iPods will now be placed in the category of ‘Other Products’ for future sales reports.
Its perhaps not surprising really when you consider that the most recent iPod, the Touch fifth generation, was launched in distant 2012. There’s been no sign of a sixth as of yet, suggesting that Cupertino is switching his focus to the iPhone and iPad full time.
We decided to take a look back at the many varieties of the iPod in what is essentially a tribute to the many hours of portable music bliss it has brought us throughout the years.
iPod, we salute you.
October 2001 saw the release of the very first iPod (which wasn’t actually named the Classic until later in 2007). It offered 5 or 10 GB of space and a fairly decent ten hour battery life.
The second generation iPod Classic was unveiled in July 2002, offering larger space allowances of ten and 20 GB and bringing with it Windows compatibility.
The wheel was also made touch-sensitive – an early foray into the technology that helped to mark Apple’s forward-thinking and innovative approach.
The third generation iPod Classic offered more space still – between ten and 40 GB, with varying space options in between. This one had an all-touch interface with a slimmer case, and the addition of a dock connector meant it could be plugged directly into the iPod speakers.
This year saw the release of two new generations of iPod Classics, in July and October respectively, with the latter being an upgrade on the first.
The first model brought an enlarged capacity of 20-40 GB, whilst the second expanded this to 30-60 GB and added colour screen and photo viewing capabilities (great for album artwork). Each version also featured the addition of a USB port.
January 2004 was also the year that Apple released the iPod Mini – a smaller, thinner alternative to the iPod everybody knew and loved. It featured a 1.67″ display and a less generous 4 GB of space.
However, the iPod Mini was the first time colour casings were introduced, with the first model giving customers five colours to choose from. It is here that the ‘click wheel’ was also first integrated.
The fifth generation of the ipod Classic launched in October 2005, with another full redesign. This included a slimmer case and larger display, as well as video playback and a space capacity of between 30 and 80 GB.
Consumers were also excited with the release of a new iPod Mini, giving an extended battery life of up to 18 hours (up from 8 hours previously). It was made available in brighter colour variants (although the gold version was at this point discontinued).
And as if things weren’t exciting enough, Apple had gone out of its way to provide an even smaller, daintier iPod – the iPod Nano. Launched in September, the first Nano was designed to eventually replace the Mini and had a body that measured just 40mm wide, 90mm long and 6.9mm thick. It had a generous battery life of 14 hours, but this was compensated for by its relatively little 1-4 GB of space. It also continued the colour screen, but wasn’t yet available in colour variations.
Meanwhile, for those constantly on-the-go or on a smaller budget. Apple introduced the ipod Shuffle – a 512 MB-1 GB little thing that used a flash memory to store the user’s music and provided a battery life of 12 hours. The lack of screen made it a new, appealing way to enjoy one’s music, without needing to worry about navigation controls.
The second generation of the iPod Nano was released in September the following year, featuring an anodized aluminium casing in a choice of six colours. Its battery life was also boosted to an impressive 24 hours.
A second iPod Shuffle was also let loose into the market – a smaller design with a clip attached; an aluminium casing and four colour options to choose from. Its capacity was improved to 1-2 GB.
The sixth and final generation of the Classic brought a whopping capacity of 80 – 160 GB, and was given the anodized aluminium front plate treatment. Whereas its predecessor had been available in both black and white, the white version was at this point replaced with a silver option instead.
This year saw another iPod Nano come into the fray, the model edging up its credentials with 4 and 8 GB of space and video playback capability. It was given a redesign to become smaller and square-shaped – Apple clearly thought this would be more ‘palm friendly’. It was given a smaller click wheel to accommodate the new shape.
September saw the arrival of the iPod Touch – a model with a multi-touch surface and between 8 and 32 GB of space. It was the first iPod to have wifi capability, giving access to Apple’s Safari browser, the Apple Store and YouTube.
The new ipod Nano took a quick reversion to the more familiar, taller interface…presumably due to a lack of popularity for the square shape. All-aluminium enclosed, it featured shake-sensitivity and the potential for landscape viewing when watching videos. It had 4-16 GB of space and offered a greater choice of nine colours.
The second generation of the iPod Touch came with 36 hour battery life, six hours of video playback and 8 – 32 GB. It also featured Nike+ functionality (presumably for fitness fanatics) and an in-built speaker.
The fifth generation of the iPod Nano took on probably the biggest upgrade yet – an extra hour of battery life; a video camera; FM Radio; in-built speaker; pedometer and larger screen were all added to the new model. We presume Apple had started to realise by this point the many uses for the iPod and what it was exactly capable of. And at the same time of course, it had the iPhone to compete with in terms of functionality and appeal.
The new Shuffle was also smaller than it predecessor still. Its controls were moved to the right earbud cable and a VoiceOver feature was added. Its capacity edged towards 2-4 GB.
And an updated iPod Touch offered 32-64 GB of space and included upgraded internals from the iPhone 3GS. It also featured VoiceControl Support.
The new Nano reverted back to the square interface, and the video, speaker and camera features were removed. What happened exactly, we’re not sure…but it was evident that Apple had perhaps done too much too soon with this one.
A clip was added however, imaginably to help the Nano affix more conveniently to one’s clothing when running or at the gym, and the product was now fully touchscreen.
Meanwhile, the final Shuffle generation was revealed, with a newly designed square casing and the controls reverted to their original position. The VoiceOver feature was maintained and it was available in five colours; however, its capacity crept back down to 2 GB.
A new Touch was also unveiled, with 40 hours of battery life, 7 hours of video playback and this time two cameras – one for FaceTime and one for HD video recording. The new thinner design also flaunted a retina display and offered 8 – 64GB.
The final generation of the iPod Nano boasted 16 GB of space, a 30 hour battery life and its video capability restored. It also had the addition of bluetooth and returned to its tall interface. However, the touchscreen functionality remained intact.
Meanwhile, the most recent iPod Touch (and probably the last iPod of all) came with a new aluminium design and various colour case options. An A5 processor was added, along with a longer 4″ retina display and Siri, Apple’s virtual voice-controlled assistant. Its capacity reached 16 – 64 GB.