Memories and special events seem to mingle in the mind for years.
Here’s a back to the future look at the early hours of the iPod, and why it matters for today’s iPod, today’s Mac and tomorrow’s Apple.
Where were you when Apple launched the iPod? Do you remember your first impressions of the now ubiquitous music player?
I was in San Francisco shortly after the iPod launch in 2001 and remember thoughts such as, “pricey for the size,” and “feels solid,” and “I want one.”
Apparently, that’s one of the tell-tale signs that Apple honcho Steve Jobs mentioned about the early iPod.
He said that when everyone on the team wanted one, they knew they had something special.
The gloom and doom prognosticators were all around, too, led by none other than Cmdr Taco of SlashDot fame.
Posted on October 23, 2001 in the “well-thats-not-very-exciting” department, the iPod was summed down with, “No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.”
Remind me not to have SlashDot’s Cmdr Taco do a palm reading.
Update – Remember all the prognostications about Apple’s iPhone and how it will fail? How about the death knells for Apple and the Mac? Isn’t it remarkable how things change?
The SlashDot article and comments were often negative and acerbic in their initial review of the iPod, specifications, comparisons, and price.
That’s to be expected. Any good product will also bring out some of the more thoughtful among our geeky friends.
As I read through the comment threads I was impressed by some initial reactions and how prophetic they came to be regarding product design, or, rather, lack of it when comparing the iPod to Microsoft’s Zune.
For example, someone saw through the early negative vibes and noted this: “FireWire (400Mbps) data syncing _and_ recharging at the same time. That’s cool.”
Indeed it was cool. So cool that others began to look closely at Apple’s design expertise packaged as a deck of cards.
Others viewed the iPod with multiple levels of practicality. Music isn’t always first.
Comment by comment, Apple’s attention to detail from the user’s perspective began to gather light.
Others took a more narrow view of the iPod’s future, forgetting in the blink of an eye that, well, things change:
“Raise your hand if you have iTunes…
Raise your hand if you have a FireWire port…
Raise your hand if you have both…
Raise your hand if you have $400 to spend on a cute Apple device…
There is Apple’s market. Pretty slim, eh? I don’t see many sales in the future of iPod.”
One commenter pointed out all the steps required on a Windows PC to burn a CD. Then he compared that with the ease of using iTunes and an iPod.
Sometimes Apple’s innovation isn’t so much coming up with something new, but mixing all the parts together in a way that makes sense. Even five years ago someone could see that in the iPod.
“But, how about if you took the idea of an MP3 player, made it look nice, gave it a Firewire port for fast transfers and easy recharging, and made the whole thing sync seamlessly with iTunes.
Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. I imagine they’ll sell quite a few. It’s the right feature set at the right time.”
Another comment noted that the original $400 price tag was for those who demand the latest cool toy from Apple, but predicted the rest would buy a 20GB version for $200.
That was then and this is now. Five years later the iPods dominate the portable music player market from flash to hard drives.
Where’s the competition? Still struggling to “get it” five years after Apple got it right with the first iPod. Now, back to the future.
The Mac and iPod maker is rolling in record numbers; Mac units, iPod units, sales, profits, cash, market share.
Apple’s attention to detail back in 2001 remains unmatched by competitors today. Remember, Apple launched Mac OS X in 2001, and as with the iPod, the improvements have been steady and consistent, a constantly moving target.
Going forward, what can we expect from Apple in 2007? What will Apple do to a cell phone that’s not being done already? What will Apple’s iTV do that other living room media solutions are not doing?
Will the nattering nabobs of negativism diss Apple’s “innovations” in 2007? Or, does Apple know something about the future that we don’t know? Yet.
First, where were you when Apple launched the iPod and what was your first impression? Second, why hasn’t Apple’s portable music player competitors figured out what Apple did? Finally, what’s on tap for the future—what does Apple know about cell phones, media players, and wireless tablet PCs that the rest of us do not?