While most of the attention these days is on the iPhone, the venerable iPod is still chugging along. I wanted to take a moment to mention how profoundly important that product has been.
When it was introduced, in 2001, MP3 players were only used by geeks, and only Mac fans paid any attention to Apple. With its great design and ease of use, the iPod changed all that. When Apple released iTunes for Windows in 2003, it became the product to have, and millions of people who had never before bought an Apple product soon formed a dangling-white-wire army.
Between then and now, Apple kept coming out with attractive computers, great retail stores, improved operating systems, clever “digital hub” software, and memorable ad campaigns. At the same time, Microsoft Windows XP came under assault for its well-publicized virus, spyware, and security problems. While Microsoft eventually cleaned up many of these issues, the damage was done, and Windows had earned its reputation. Then, last year, Microsoft stumbled again last with the performance and compatibility problems of Windows Vista, while Apple was earning rave reviews for Leopard, the newest version of Mac OS X.
This has created a huge opportunity for Apple. Several of our clients are new to the Mac, deciding to try Apple rather than automatically buying another HP or Dell as they had before. Apple has the iPod to thank for this; it introduced Apple products to millions of Windows users. Even those who didn’t own an iPod saw them everywhere. It was a masterful stroke of brand-building, and Apple is now reaping the benefits with brisk Mac and iPhone sales.
In 2001, the original iPod could hold 5 GB, or about 1000 songs. It had a failure-prone mechanical hard drive and cost $399. Seven years later, the iPod is smaller, holds more, lasts longer, plays movies, and displays your photos. Here’s the current lineup, as recently announced by Apple.
- iPod Shuffle: A truly miniscule clip-on music player that doesn’t have a screen. Great for the gym or a gift, but not being able to visibly navigate your music makes it hard to recommend as your full-time iPod. 1 GB ($49) or 2 GB ($79), in five colors.
- iPod Nano: A very small, slim player. The latest version is tall and narrow (the previous model was short and squat), and the screen senses whether you’re looking at it vertically or horizontally. If you want an ultraportable iPod, don’t mind the small screen, and don’t need to have a huge music or video library with you at all times, then this is the iPod for you. 8 GB ($149) or 16 GB ($249), in nine colors.
- iPod Classic: The closest descendent of the original iPod is the only one which still has a mechanical hard drive, which makes it more likely to fail than other current iPods. But it stores a massive amount of music, video, and photos, so it’s great for those of you with large collections that you want with you at all times. The screen is a bit larger than the one on the Nano, but still pretty small for watching movies. 120 GB ($249), in silver or black. If you really want to max out, you can still get the previous 160 GB model at Amazon ($299), while they last.
- iPod Touch: This is basically an iPhone without the phone. Instead of a navigation wheel, it has a touch-sensitive screen, and when you are connected via Wi-Fi, you can browse the web, check your email, manage your contacts and download new software, just as you can with an iPhone. The big screen is great for watching movies and tv shows, but if you primarily want a music player, consider that the Touch is larger and heavier than other iPods. 8 GB ($229), 16 GB ($299) or 32 GB ($399). Black only.
If you have any iPod questions — like how to get your music off your old iPods, for example — don’t hesitate to give us a shout. We’ll be glad to help you out with those and any other questions you might have.