Apple iPod turns 15: Here's a look at how iPods transitioned over the years

It was on this day fifteen years ago that Apple launched the first iPod, bringing music to users' pockets for the first time and pioneering a new generation of portable music players.

We take a look at the story of Apple's iPods which turned 15 today.

2001- iPod 1st Gen

Back in October of 2001, Apple launched the first iPod, a path-breaking piece of technology that preceded the first iPhones by six years and which laid to rest the generations-old Walkman technology. Available in 5GB storage model, the iPods let users store as many as 1,000 songs and listen to them on the go. The iPod arrived with a little display which arranged songs as per artists and playlists as well as a large scroll wheel under it which let users switch between tracks and access the main menu. By the end of 2001, Apple sold as many as 125,000 iPods!


The first generation iPod is now a delight for collectors and back in May, a 1st Gen iPod was put up for sale on eBay for an astounding $14,900.

2002- iPod 2nd Gen

Less than a year after the first iPods were released, Apple unveiled the 2nd Gen iPod which was compatible with Windows and featured much larger storage than its predecessor. It arrived in 10GB and 20GB models and while the overall design didn't change, the scroll wheel was replaced by a touch wheel.

While you could buy a 5GB iPod a year earlier for £299, you could buy a 10GB one for £329 in 2002 and a 20GB on for £399. However, pricing of the 5GB model went down to £259. We don't know if the pricing had an impact, but Apple ended up selling as many as 600,000 iPods in the calendar year.

2003- iPod 3rd Gen

In April of 2003, not only did Apple launch the 3rd Generation iPod, but also introduced the iTunes Music Store for the first time. The iPod was not only thinner and lighter, but also featured as much as 30GB of storage- enough for 7,500 songs and thanks to a redesigned scroll wheel and an LCD panel, looked a lot better too.

The third-generation iPod was available in 10GB, 15GB and 30GB storage models and its popularity showed after Apple announced the sale of its millionth iPod in June of 2003. By September, the iTunes sore also recorded downloads of as many as 10 million songs and by December, 25 million songs.

2004- iPod Mini & iPod 4th Gen

Afer selling two million iPods in the calendar year of 2003, Apple introduced the iPod Mini in January of 2004- a smaller iPod with just 4GB of storage but which cost just £199. The new iPod was available in five colours and while it turned out to be quite popular, the iTunes store also launched in the UK for the first time, letting users download tens of millions of songs to listen on their iPods.

In July of 2004, Apple launched iPod 4th Gen in 20GB and 40GB storage models and which it priced at  £299 and £219 respectively. The scroll wheel no longer protruded out of the face of the iPod and the controls as well as the display grew larger and wider.

Thanks to the popularity of iPod 4th Gen and the iPod Mini, Apple recorded sales of as many as 10 million iPods in 2004. The iTunes store also announced 200 million song downloads by the end of the year.

2005- iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano and iPod 5th Gen

Exactly a year after it launched the iPod Mini, Apple launched the iPod Shuffle, a remote-shaped MP3 player which was as cheap as an iPod could be. It lacked an LCD display and couldn't be docked, but the scroll wheel remained, letting you switch between tracks even if you couldn't see them. Priced at just £69, it featured a meagre 512MB of storage with space enough for fewer than 500 songs.

iPod Shuffle

Later in 2005, Apple also launched a successor to the iPod Mini which it named the iPod Nano. The company now terms it as the 'best-selling music player ever'. Available in Black for the first time among iPods, iPod Nano cost £139 and £179 for 2GB and 4GB models and was also the first to arrive with flash memory. The fifth generation iPod which followed the iPod Nano also arrived in 30GB and 60GB models which were priced at £219 and £299 respectively and was the first iPod with the capability to play videos.

Apple ended up selling 42 million iPods in 2005- more than four times than it sold in the year earlier.

2006- iPod Shuffle 2nd Gen, new iPod Nano and iPod 6th Gen

The iPod Shuffle that arrived in 2006 was a lot slimmer and shorter than its predecessor, thus becoming Apple's first wearable product. Featuring a built-in clip, it arrived with 1GB of storage, twice compared to its predecessor, and cost £50, thus becoming the cheapest iPod of all time. The iPod Nano also featured a new aluminium design and a 6th Gen iPod was also released later that year.

With the new video-playing capability in iPods, the iTunes store started selling movies by the hundreds of thousands and Apple ended up selling as many as 88 million iPods in the calendar year.

2007- iPod touch

2007 is known as the year of the iPhone, but it didn't mean that Apple had taken its eye off iPods. Apple used the design of its first-generation iPhone to create the iPod touch, similar in size to the iPhone and with wireless connectivity. iPod touch arrived with apps like iTunes, Music, Videos, Photos, Safari, YouTube, Calendar, Contacts, Clock and Calculator.

By April of 2007, Apple achieved sales of as many as 100 million iPods since they were first launched and by July, iTunes achieved 3 billion song downloads. By the end of the year, Apple sold 141 million iPods, including the new iPod Shuffle which was made available in five new colours.

2008- iPod touch 2nd Gen

Apple made the iPod touch its most advanced iPod ever with new features but also launched new Classic, Nano and Shuffle models in 2008. The new iPod touch arrived with a 3.5-inch display, 32GB of built-in storage, a 789 mAh battery, 128MB of RAM, USB and Wi-Fi connectivity and 36 hours of music playback.

Thanks to the launch of the App Store for iPhones and iPod touch, millions of new apps were downloaded by users and iTunes offered movie rentals and the latest movies for sale. Apple ended up selling 197 million iPods in 2008 alone.

2009- iPod touch 3rd Gen and iPod Nano with camera!

In 2009, the face of Apple's iPods changed forever and they were nothing like the original iPods launched in 2001. On iPods, users could rent movies, download movies and music videos, indulge in gaming apps, download any songs they wished to and choose from hundreds of thousand of new apps on the App Store.

The year saw the release of a new-look iPod Nano with a camera to shoot videos in 640p resolution. Apple also released a third generation iPod touch featuring better processing power to let users play games and watch HD movies without encountering stutters. However, there was no change in design despite which Apple sold 250 million iPods in the year.

2010- iPod Nano 6th Gen and iPod touch 4th Gen

The iPod Nano released in 2010 turned out to be the smallest ever iPod, if not the cheapest. Shaped more like a watch face, it featured a touch screen with apps like Playlists, Now Playing, Artists and Genius Mixes. Available in six colours, it weighed just 21g and arrived in 8GB and 16GB storage models. Its hardware included a 1.54-inch display, FM radio compatibility, a USB 2.0 port, a battery supporting up to 24 hours of music playback. Apple also launched a new iPod Shuffle featuring the same design as the iPod Nano but lacking a touch screen.

Later that year, Apple released its 4th generation iPod touch, calling it 'the world's #1 portable game player'. It featured Retina Display, FaceTime video calling, HD video recording and Game Centre to let iPod users use more features than ever before. Apple sold 275 million iPods in 2010 despite the growing popularity of iPhones.

2015: The latest iPods

In July of last year, Apple unveiled its new iPod touch in space grey, silver, gold, pink and blue colours. It featured a 4-inch Retina display, an A8 processor, an 8MP iSight camera and a front camera that supports FaceTime in HD quality as well as hi-res selfies. It also supported  the recently released Apple Music, including a 24-hour Beats 1 live radio and music streaming akin to the iPhone 6.

You will be able to make the new iPod touch yours by paying £159 for the 16GB model. The 32GB and 64GB models will cost £199 and £249 respectively. Apple is also introducing a new 128GB iPod touch which will cost you £329. All these models are now available through Apple Retail Stores and the Apple Online Store.

Image source: Wikipedia, The Telegraph

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