10 reasons to celebrate the iPod's 10th anniversary

Well they say age is just a number, and this can't be more true as Apple’s iPod turns 10.

When the late Steve Jobs launched the portable media player that put '1,000 songs in your pocket' on 23 October, 2001, much of the world fell in love.

The original creation has significantly evolved over the years, at the same time as other nifty portable players competed for our affection. But there's just something about the iPod that's captured the hearts, ears and wallets of so many in every corner of the world.

And as the miniature music maker shuffles into its second decade, we reckon there are a few reasons - 10 in fact - to celebrate.

Here's a look back at the changing face of the iPod, and why we think it's still hip:

Music for the masses

Whether you’re an Apple fan boy or Apple hater, there’s no arguing with the sales figures. In the last 10 years, more than 300 million iPods have been sold around the world to people young and old. The iPod carried the digital music revolution in a way none of its competitors could. Many rival MP3 players from the likes of Creative, Sony, SanDisk and Microsoft’s own stab with the Zune failed to match the hype, ease-of-use and style that has defined the iPod’s reign.

There's life in the iPod yet

Even after 10 years and a decline in sales figures, there’s still reason for Apple to cheer. Earlier this week the company announced sales of the devices for the last quarter to September were down by 27 per cent. However CEO Tim Cook appeared to clear this up at the iPhone 4S launch when he said that half of all new iPod sales are going to people purchasing their first one ever. The iPod may be ageing, but it's clearly still transcending generations.

iTunes – the good and the bad

It’s not always been the easiest piece of software to use, doesn’t support all sorts of file types and let’s face it, most of us know someone who, in the past 10 years, has fallen foul of their iPod being wiped by the wrong kind of sync. But iTunes wasn’t launched on Windows until 2003, and by 2010 Apple was able to announce it had sold 10 billion songs. From Cover Flow to album art to Playlists and Genius suggestions, iTunes has always been at the forefront of innovation and is the backbone of the iPod success story.

Touchscreen technology

When the iPod touch was first released back in 2007, its controls were a long way from the mechanical click-wheel on the original devices. But by bringing a touchscreen display to the device, Apple paved the way for the explosion in apps and games. With its intuitive simple controls, it ensured Apple won over those who were less technology-minded and had no need to make phone calls.

Don’t worry, be 'app-y

Similarly, the advent of the iOS software platform for the iPhone ensured a whole new lease of life for the iPod. With the touch, Apple offered much of its mobile’s functionality at a fraction of the price. Free software updates have continually brought new features while having iOS on iPods ensured developers could maximise revenues from a much larger audience available. In turn that surely offered a boost to the iPhone making the development of costly apps far more worthwhile.

Now limitless songs

The maximum amount of storage in the original iPod was just 10GB, enough for around 2,500 tracks. That’s now 64GB with the current top-range iPod touch, so a whopping 16,000. And thanks to the latest iCloud innovation, you can actually have far more music on tap as long as you’re connected to the internet.

Console-style gaming

Portable gaming has always been big business from the early days of Snake on the old Nokia mobile handsets to the Nintendo DS. In the mid-90s, Apple released some games for its original-style iPod line including Pac-Man and Tetris. But it never really caught on until it revolutionised gaming on the move through the iPod touch. Console-like graphics and gameplay at a fraction of the cost of buying a DS or Sony PSP cartridge, it was always going to be a winning move.

The Pope and the Queen

It may not seem likely, but both the Pope and the Queen of England do in fact own one. It doesn't get much more iconic than that. The gadget has always done well with celebrity endorsements and by becoming a firm favourite of legends from across the music world and beyond, it built a hype around itself no piece of technology has ever truly matched. Whether you put that down to clever marketing, functionality or a bit of both, it’s no mean feat.

Smaller wasn’t always better

The ill-fated iPod mini in its garish metallic colours lasted just two years and two models. It was soon replaced with the colour screen iPod nano using flash memory for a smaller thinner size and better battery life. The nano broke the mould again becoming the first iPod to include a video camera but that didn’t last long either with it being removed on the last refresh when the nano went square and got a touchscreen. But along with the ever-decreasing in size shuffle, these smaller devices ensured Apple continued to offer an iPod for every taste, need and pocket.

Keeping the classic

If it’s not broken, then why fix it? Despite all the new models and redesigns, Apple kept faith with the classic style of iPod and retained it in the product line. Now on its 6th version, which ushered in the classic name, it was last refreshed in September 2009 and has as much as 160GB of storage. It’s just a shame Apple didn’t bring out a 10th anniversary edition to mark its decade of life. But then… there’s still time yet.

Where does the iPod go from here? Let us know what you think the future holds for it with a comment below. What would you like to see featured and how long can its success continue?

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