Among all of the new product announcements from Apple this week, the deletion of the iPod classic from their online store front received no fan fare. The Cupertino company announced an upgraded iPhone and debuts the Watch digital wearable, however, made no mention of the removal of the product that changed the music world from their catalog.
The iPod, introduced in October 2001 at a price point of almost $400, revolutionized the music industry. While the original device had a minimal amount of storage compared to products of today, a smart marketing strategy captured the world’s attention. With energetic, visually striking commercials and print ad campaigns combined with a digital music player that worked and was simple to operate, Apple had a hit. Similar to how Sony revolutionized portable music with their Walkman system a couple of decades earlier, the Cupertino company did the same with digital music.
Over the years the original iPod added features and refined itself. Overall, it was the same device that came to the market in 2001. Adding the ability to display photos or videos, increasing storage sizes to levels that a consumer could almost carry an entire music store with them, where ever they went just added to Apple’s dominance in the digital music player market.
Apple’s original iPod, later to be added Classic to its name, introduced the world to iTunes. The only way to download music to the device was through iTunes, and Apple was able to start swaying PC users to the “dark side” once a USB PC compatible iPod was introduced. Ripping CD’s and building a library of playlists became the norm. In 2003 Apple opened the iTunes store. This new tool included in iTunes simplified adding music to the small, portable music players.
The now deleted iPod Classic spawned other Apple products that may have been a component of the demise of the groundbreaking device. The smaller iPod Nano products and iPod Shuffle were an option that was smaller and portable for active users. The iPod Touch gave users a larger screen for videos and games. The ability to put your music onto your iPhone and cease the necessity to carry both a digital music device, PDA and cell phone answered the demands of customers. What compact discs did to audio cassettes, the iPod did to compact discs. There was no longer a need to wait in line for a new album or search for those difficult to find albums or singles. It was likely available on the iTunes store, and if it wasn’t yet, likely it would be soon.
However, with all the variations of the iPod that came out, the Classic continued to be a major component of Apple’s portable line until this week. The truth about the iPod, the hit product was directly responsible for making Apple into the company it is today. Before the little digital music player hit the market, Microsoft, IBM, and HP dominated the personal computer market. However, after the debut of the iPod, the winds started blowing into Apple’s sails as they surged past the competition.
And the needed iTunes that came with the iPod was an additional marketing success. While PC users were starting to migrate from the awkward MP3 players available from other manufacturers to the iPod, they started learning how to use iTunes. That was a step towards swaying PC users to purchase Mac computers. When consumers found out that the Apple operating system was as simple as iTunes, and similar in its layout, it became less of a scare of trying to learn something new.
Since the start, the sleek, modern device was in high demand. And that demand meant large profits for Steve Jobs and Apple. The money that was earned from the sales of the original iPod was invested back into the company towards product design, research and production. This eventually led to the iPhone and its overnight dominance of the smartphone market.
So as Apple wowed consumers with a bigger iPhone and the new Watch, the iPod classic, the device that changed the music world was deleted. While sales have dropped off over the years of the revolutionary device, the continuing iPod product line that continues to grow and evolve are all here as a result of the Classic, and its digital genome will continue to be around for a long time and revolutionary products will continue to come from Cupertino due to what the iPod started.
By Carl Auer