The often forgotten iPod Classic, or as it was simply known before the various updates, the iPod. It’s Apple’s original music player, and remains a favorite of ours amongst Apple’s line of products for it’s major storage capacity. Sure, the iOS devices have Apps and larger screens, but the iPod Classic tops many of those devices with 160GB of storage. Not to mention, this is the device that launched Apple’s rebranding as a gadget company rather than a computer company.
Earlier this month, the iPad 2 was unveiled and released, it was the first of what will be yearly updates to the device. This was a trend that began to really show with the iPod line (computers are a different story). In honor of the device that started the iDevice trend, let’s take a look at the evolution of the iPod.
Meet/re-meet the first-generation iPod. For it’s time, this thing was cool and sleek looking. It was released in 2001 with an amazing 5GB hard drive capable of storing 1,000 songs. This baby set you back $400. They also sold a 10GB model for $500, which came along in early 2002. As with all Apple products, there were some naysayers. Still, the device took off like no other MP3 player, and may very well be one of the strongest reasons that portable media devices are so popular today.
Apple showed this one off in July of 2002. This one added touch sensitivity to the wheel, but used the same body design as before. At the time, $400 would fetch you a 10GB iPod and $500 would get you 20GB, which seemed HUGE for the time. This was also when the iPod became Windows-friendly. Apple must have seen the potential market and made a grab for it. According to Wikipedia, the Windows version came with Musicmatch Jukebox rather than iTunes.
Welcome to 2003. This was the first major redesign for the iPod. Hello backlit screen. It had no physical buttons; just a touch surface. It was also slimmed down, making the older iPod look clunky in comparison. This was also the first iPod to use the popular iDevice dock connector. Before that, iPods had a FireWire port. The design was interesting for the time as it was plastic with a clear outer plastic that gave it a glossy, glass-like look. The models were now compatible with both Windows and Mac rather than forcing the user to buy one or the other. They also became much more affordable as the 10GB model ran for $300 (which felt like a deal given the prices of the previous-gen iPods at the time), the 15GB was $400 and the 30GB up there at $500. During this iPod’s lifetime, iTunes 4.1 was introduced and made compatible with Windows.
As an aside, this was the first iPod the author of this post owned; it was a high school graduation gift.
This was the first iPod to feature a color screen it was released in 2004. The previous model was backlit (as were the button-ish touch panel non-button thingamabobs) but the sharper, color screen of this generation iPod blew it away. This one brought back the buttons, and put all the functions back on the scroll wheel. Again, the iPod was slimmed down a bit. With this generation, you could buy a 20GB iPod for $300. 40GB would set you back $400. There was no $500 option (Apple probably noticed that people weren’t paying half a grand for a music player). Around this time, the iPod also became capable of displaying photos thanks to that color screen.
This design borrowed a bit from the iPod 3G as it brought back the clear plastic surface. For the first time, the iPod was able to play video on it’s tiny little screen. The front of this iPod was also flat, rather than rounding off at the edges like the previous models had. The year was 2005 for those of you keeping track, and $300 would get you 30GB of music, photos and video. A hundred bucks more would double that capacity at 60GB. This model also ditched the installation CD that iPods used to come with. From then on, iTunes was downloaded direct from Apple’s website.
The iPod 6G went ditched the flat front for edges that weren’t quite rounded, but tapered down. It also lost the glossy look. This was officially renamed the iPod Classic as Apple by this time had introduced various lines of iPods such as the Nano, the Shuffle the Touch and so on. The body hasn’t seen any major updates in a while. This model was introduced with an amazing 36 hours of battery life for music playback. Apple also simplified the options over time by eventually only making the 160GB version the only model available. It goes for $250, that’s more than the iPod Touch, but this remains the best option for the serious music lover who doesn’t want a Home Screen and Apps and iOS firmware updates along with their media player.
The iPod Classic
One thought has crossed our minds in all this. We wonder if Apple will eventually decide to discontinue this product. They’ve noted in past quarterly reports that the sales have dropped, and the Classic didn’t even get a mention during Apple’s special iPod event last year. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.
Note: All images (except for iPod 6G) from Wikipedia.