RIP iPod: A look back at the handheld music player that changed the world

iPods dominated the mp3 market for more than a decade Credit: AP

Apple has announced it is discontinuing the iPod after more than 20 years on the shelves.

On Tuesday the company said they would stop producing the iPod touch - the only version of the device still on sale - and anyone who wants one should buy one while stocks last.

The iPod has been a victim of its own success, as the core design of the Touch version was essentially just a cheaper version of the early iPhone, which remains Apple's most successful product.

An early iPod with the iconic spinwheel Credit: AP

But with music playing and all other features an iPod could offer being moved onto the phone justifying a standalone expensive music player became less and less desirable for many consumers.

First launched in 2001 with the iconic spin wheel for navigating music it took the world by storm and revolutionised the music industry.

What did the world think of the first iPod?

Although MP3 players had been around for a while in 2001, their storage capacity was infamously small with even the most expensive models only being able to handle 100-200 songs.

The iPod launched with the ability to store 1,000 songs and a 10-hour battery life - much longer than any of its competitors.

Along with the iPod revolution came the iTunes revolution which completely change how people listened to music.

Marking the beginning of the end of the CD when iTunes first came around Apple was so new to the market it listed its main competitor as illegal piraters who used software like Limewire to download their music.

ITV News 2004 report on the launch of iTunes in the UK

The first generation was bulky and was only available with a black and white screen, but this was still revolutionary at the time and sold in its millions.

Apple dominates the market

In the first few years of its life, the iPod went through numerous generations with Apple quickly innovating on its core design.

It got smaller, the hard drive got bigger and colour displays were added.

In 2004 Apple introduced the iPod Mini and in 2005 they released the iPod Nano and the iPod Shuffle slimming down the size of the iPod.

ITV News report from 2011 reporting on Steve Jobs death when the iPod was still the dominant force in music players

By 2007 Apple announced it had sold 100 million iPods making it the fastest-selling music player in history and completely outstripped all other MP3s and Walkmans.

By 2008 sales peaked at 11 million sales in the final three months of the year and in 2011 Apple controlled a 70% global market share of the MP3 market.

The iPod Touch

The iPod Touch was unveiled in 2007, about 18 months after the release of the iPhone.

Apple knew their iPhones had been a huge hit with customers but also knew many people couldn't afford their steep cost.

The iPod Touch was effectively just the iPhone without 3G and a camera at a considerably cheaper cost.

The iPod Touch and the early iPhone were almost exactly the same Credit: AP

The Touch did add web browsing through a wifi connection, and with its second-generation model, access to the brand new App Store.At first, it was extremely popular and sold over 100 million units in six years, but it was fast outpaced by the rise of the smartphone.

The slow decline

As time moved on and smartphones began to dominate every aspect of the handheld technology device industry the iPod struggled to find a place in the market.

The traditional iPod was replaced by the Touch entirely in 2014, while the Nano and Shuffles were discontinued in 2017.

At one point Apple controlled 70% of the mp3 market Credit: AP

Apple still sold the Touch but stopped releasing software updates for it in 2019.

Apple stopped releasing the figures for iPod sales in 2014 but by that time they accounted for less than 1% of its sales.

In a statement announcing the discontinuation on Wednesday, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, said the “spirit of iPod lives on”.

“Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the way iPod did impacted more than just the music industry – it also redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared,” he said.

Will I still be able to repair my iPod?

Apple did not reveal anything about continued support for iPod maintenance when they said they would be discontinuing the line.

They stopped releasing software updates for them in 2019.

On their website, they still offer repair services for the Shuffle and Nano and say if they can't repair it they may be able to replace it - despite both of them being discontinued in 2017.

There are still various third party companies that offer repair services for iPods including some of the earliest generations that are almost 20 years old.

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