iPod: the gadget that changed an entire industry

15 years after the launch of the iPod, we look at how the iconic device turned around the then computer company's fortunes - and share the best celebratory tweets

Fifteen years is a lifetime in the technology space. Even for iconic gadgets. On October 23, 2001, Apple CEO Steve Jobs thrust the iPod on the world, forever changing how music is bought and consumed.

The iPod also turned out to be a great example of how industry analysts can get it wrong — according to a 2001 New York Times report on the launch, the music player was thought of as a consumer-friendly device, but one with a relatively limited potential audience of around seven million Mac users. As expected, Jobs disputed this view, and was bold (arrogant?) enough to predict that the iPod would, in fact, inspire consumers to switch to a Mac — can you imagine buying an expensive computer just to be able to use a music player?

Well, it turns out enough consumers did just that. Dubbed the iPod Halo Effect, the device rejuvenated Apple’s computer business — a Macworld analysis from 2006, five years after the debut of the iPod, observes that in the first quarter the iPod was available, Apple shipped 125,000 units over two months and 746,000 Macs, reporting a profit of $38 million (Dh140 million) — up from fourth quarter loss of $195 million in 1999. Fast forward to the fourth quarter of 2006, and Apple had turned in a profit of $546 million, shipping 8.7 million iPods and 1.6 million Macs.

Though of course, times have changed and as this cute video shows, the iPod would most probably flop if it were introduced today. Kids these days are likely to roll their eyes at it and say, “Duh!”

It seems Apple has already forgotten the iPod, and did not do anything special to celebrate its 15th birthday. As Luke Dormehl at Cult of Mac explains, “The product is considered such an incidental piece of Apple’s revenue stream these days that it doesn’t even report sales of the iPod.”

But the Twitterati certainly hasn’t forgotten. Fans went down nostalgia lane and dished up memories from the glory days of the iPod — some amusing, some informative, and a few completely bonkers.