updated 05:45 pm EDT, Sat October 23, 2010
iPod hits 9th birthday in shift to phones
Apple today reached the ninth anniversary of the iPod in the midst of a shifting climate. The MP3 player was first unveiled on October 23, 2001 at a special event on Apple's campus. Early versions were Mac-only, used Firewire 400 to sync and had just 5GB of space, which at the time was enough to hold Apple's well-known 1,000 songs but also cost $399.
Today, the least expensive screened iPod, the iPod nano, is just a fraction of the size but holds 2,000 songs, shows photos and holds FM radio.
The birthday has come as Apple is rapidly transitioning away from the iconic jog wheel and music-first focus that defined the early players. Its best-selling device is now the iPod touch, which is not only a touchscreen player but has been pitched primarily as an apps and gaming device with video capture and chat as equally important. Only the iPod classic, which has remained largely unchanged in the past three years, still has a wheel for input.
The timing is unintentionally symbolic as Sony is ending cassette Walkman sales. The device helped pioneer portable album listening and was eventually replaced by CDs and later MP3 players, when Apple took over from Sony as the leader in portable music.
2,000 songs, 2010