The iPod Timeline – So Far In Just 9 Years (And What’s Next)

by Randy Murray on September 16, 2010

In addition to announcing the 2010 slate of iPods, Apple recently published a timeline of the iPod models, starting with the original one in 2001. It’s a fascinating look at the changes and advances in the product and its design over a very short period of time. If you haven’t seen this timeline, check it out, then come back. Apple – iPod History.

I still have my original iPod from 2001. It’s a 5-gigabyte marvel. It could hold a thousand songs and I used it for over three years before upgrading to a 60-gigabyte model, which I still use, although it’s docked in a speaker system in our kitchen. I now carry my second iPhone (which is also an iPod) and an iPad (yep, iPod built right in). That original little plastic and metal brick was a thing of beauty, although now it is heavy and angular and crude compared to current models.

For most companies, take Sony or Nintendo for example, once they release a product, they stick with it for years before making even the most minor changes and updates. But Apple continually pushes the envelope, cannibalizes their own product base, and completely transforms their products.

Look at that timeline. See that original iPod with its physical hard drive and tiny gray-scale screen, physical buttons and wheel. Now look at the iPod Touch or the iPhone. They don’t even appear to be related. They might as well be decades apart when they are really only separated by about six years/generations. The device I now carry with me everywhere is closer to the Star Trek Communicator AND Tricorder than it is to a Sony Walkman tape player.

While other companies are struggling to introduce a new product this year, Apple is planning YEARS in advance. The company appears to know where it’s going not just this year, but three to five years down the road.

So what’s to come? What will that timeline show in another nine years?

Hold an iPhone 4G or a new iPod Touch in your hand and think, “What would make this elegant thing of beauty seem crude, clunky, and hopelessly out of date?” That’s what you’ll see on this timeline. I can imagine that 18th generation iPod being a single piece of glass, completely transparent, unbreakable (God, I hope so), and capable of (taking a leap here) fully realistic, holographic 3D images and video.

And it will play music.

The The iPod Timeline – So Far In Just 9 Years (And What’s Next) by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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