On this day…
On October 23rd, 2001, Apple released the first line of iPods, offering “1,000 songs in your pocket.” The iPod is a line of portable media players designed and created by Apple Inc. The first iPod was released about 8 months after the release of the Macintosh version of iTunes, Apple’s media player and media library. With a 5 GB hard drive, the first generation iPod held about 1,000 songs.
Even though the Apple iPod was released in 2001, sales were relatively slow until 2004. This was, for the most part, because of its price and Mac-only compatibility. Sporting a Gameboy-like boxy design, it had a black and white LCD screen, about 10 hours of battery life, and was priced at $399. Among the things that helped the iPod stand alone amongst its competitors were its relatively small size, and its easy to use navigation. The small size was achieved by using a 1.8” hard drive, while competitors, at the time, were using 2.5” hard drives. Navigation of the device consisted of using a mechanical scroll wheel, a center select button, and four supporting buttons (play/pause, forward, backwards, and menu) around the outside of the wheel.
The attribute that truly set the iPod apart and helped revolutionize the music industry, however, was the use of the iTunes Store. Two years after the release of the original iPod, iTunes was updated to include the iTunes Store, a new way to purchase music. Previously, customers had basically three ways of accessing music: music shops, record-label-owned subscription services, or illegal downloads. The iTunes Store supplied a simple way to purchase individual songs all at the same price, without an additional subscription fee (most online music stores at the time charged a monthly access fee). Within its first 18 hours, the iTunes Store sold about 275,000. This number jumped to over 1,000,000 within the first 5 days.
Worldwide sales of the iPod now exceed 150 million, and iTunes has sold over 5 billion songs!