Farewell to iPod – New York Times

The iPod started with a modest goal: let’s create a music product that makes people want to buy more Macintosh computers. In a few years it will change the consumer electronics and music industry and lead to Apple becoming the most valuable company in the world.

First arrived in October 2001, the pocket-sized rectangle in white and with a polished steel frame weighed 6.5 ounces. It was packed with white headphones, tailored in color, moon gray, and could hold up to 1000 songs.

He gained popularity in the following years and created what became known as the iPod generation. For most of the 2000s, people roamed the world, earphones hanging from their ears. iPods were everywhere.

Apple will officially say goodbye to all of this on Tuesday. The company announced it had phased out production of its iPod Touch, ending two decades of product line that inspired the creation of the iPhone and helped turn Silicon Valley into the epicenter of global capitalism.

Since the introduction of the iPod in 2001, Apple has sold about 450 million of them, according to Loup Ventures, a venture capital firm that specializes in technical research. Last year, it sold about three million iPods, which is part of the estimated 250 million iPhones it sold.

Apple has assured consumers that music will continue, mainly through the iPhone it introduced in 2007 and Apple Music, a seven-year service that testifies to modern consumer preferences. The days of buying and owning 99 cent songs on the iPod have largely given way to a monthly subscription, providing access to a wider catalog of music.

iPod has been Apple’s plan for decades with unmatched industrial design, hardware engineering, software development, and service packaging. He also showed that the company rarely ran in the first market with a new product, but often won.

In the late 1990s, the first digital music players appeared. Early versions could store dozens of songs, allowing people who copied CDs to a computer to carry those songs in their pockets.

Steve Jobs, who returned to Apple in 1997 after being released more than a decade ago, considered the emerging category as an opportunity to make Apple’s legacy computing business more attractive today. A loyal music fan who has named the Beatles and Bob Dylan among his favorite performers, Mr. Jobs thought access to music for people would convince them to switch from Microsoft PCs, which had more than 90, to Macintosh. Percentage market share.

“You do not need to research the market,” said John Rubinstein, who was head of engineering at Apple at the time. “Everyone loved music.”

Mr. Rubinstein facilitated product development with the discovery of a new hard drive made by Toshiba during a trip to Japan. The 1.8-inch disc had the capacity to store up to 1000 songs. Essentially, it made possible the Sony Walkman-sized digital player, which had far more power than anything on the market.

The development of the iPod coincided with Apple’s acquisition of an MP3 software company that would become the basis of iTunes, a digital jukebox that arranged people’s music libraries so they could quickly create playlists and deliver songs. He reinforced Mr. Jobs’ vision of how people would acquire music in the digital age.

“We think people want to buy their music by buying downloads on the Internet, just like they were buying LPs, they were buying cassettes, they were buying discs,” he said in a 2003 speech.

At the time, a service called Napster was tormenting the music industry, allowing people to share any song with anyone around the world. Mr. Jobs has been involved in marketing the new Macs with the ability to copy CDs with the commercial slogan: “Rip. Mix. To burn. ” The campaign put the music industry at the forefront of Apple, according to then-Universal Music Group CEO Albhi Galuten.

Mr Galuten said the labels had finally agreed to sell Apple songs on iTunes for 99 cents. “We folded because we had no leverage,” Mr Galuten said. “The easiest way to fight piracy was to be nimble.”

The $ 399 price tag on the first-generation iPod slowed demand, limiting the company from selling less than $ 400,000 in its first year. Three years later, Apple released the iPod Mini, a 3.6 ounce aluminum body that came in silver, gold, pink, blue and green. It cost $ 249 and carried 1,000 songs. Sales exploded. At the end of the fiscal year, in September 2005, it sold 22.5 million iPods.

Apple has enhanced the power of the iPod Mini by making iTunes available for Windows PCs, allowing Apple to introduce its brand to millions of new customers. While the maneuver would later be announced as a stroke of business excellence, Mr. Jobs resisted at the time, said former executives.

Soon iPods were everywhere. “It flew like a rocket,” said Mr. Rubinstein.

Still, Mr. Jobs was pushing Apple to make the iPod smaller and more powerful. Mr Rubinstein said the company had stopped production of its most popular product, the iPod Mini, to replace it with a thinner version called the Nano, which started at $ 200. Nano helped the company nearly double its sales to 40 million over the next year.

Perhaps the most important contribution of the iPod was its role as a catalyst for the creation of the iPhone. When cell phone makers began introducing devices that could play music, Apple executives were worried about leaps and bounds with better technology. Mr. Jobs decided that if that happened then Apple would have to be the one to do it.

The iPhone continued to integrate software and services, making the iPod a success. The success of iTunes, which allowed users to back up their iPhone and paste music into their device, was reflected in the development of the App Store, which allowed people to download and pay for software and services.

In 2007, the company lost its long-standing corporate name – Apple Computer Inc. – and became simply Apple, the guardian of electronics for six years.

“They showed the world that they had an atomic bomb, and five years later they had a nuclear arsenal,” said Talal Shamoun, chief executive of Intertrust Technologies, a digital rights management company that worked with the music industry at the time. “After that, there was no doubt that Apple would take over everyone.”

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