Apple owes a lot of their success to their line of portable media players. It all began with the iPod, which skyrocketed into popularity.
Before we knew it, there were Minis, Shuffles, Nanos, a phone and a Touch. We don't blame them for constantly reminding us how successul the products are. It probably gives investors something to cheer about. It gives Apple fanboys something to brag about. And it gives snarky bloggers something to write about.
Still, no matter which way you cut it, the device has helped to change the way music is distributed. Of course MP3 players existed long before the iPod, but Apple helped to push it forward. The launch of their iTunes Store was also a major factor.
It makes one feel old to think that iTunes was launched in 2001. The original iPod held 1,000 songs, and by today's standards it wasn't pretty.
By 2002, the device was compatible with Windows systems, and Apple had sold 600k.
Fast forward to 2010 and Apple still has a lot to boast about: More than five billion Apps have been downloaded from the App Store, over 10 billion songs have been purchased from iTunes and as of September 1, the company has sold 275 million iPods.
Looks like it's working out for them.
If you want to read the entire iPod + iTunes Timeline, you can see it here: iPod History