The Rise and Fall of the iPod

The Rise and Fall of the iPod

Do you remember the days when you shared MP3 CDs with your friends? Back then, listening to your favourite music was a hassle.

Then came iPod, which changed the way we listened to music.

In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod under Steve Jobs, who transformed Apple from a business on the verge of bankruptcy to a $3 trillion company. On May 10, 2022, almost 20 years after releasing its first iPod, Apple said it would no longer produce the device. But, the iPod touch will continue to sell until supplies run out.

Why did Apple stop producing iPods?

Discover the journey of a whopping 40% revenue share in 2008 to a meager 1% revenue share by 2014 - The success and decline of the Apple iPod.

The Introduction of Apple iPod: A Love Story Between Music and Computers
iPod Revolutionizing the Music Industry
Apple Taking a Risk With iPod to Achieve Success
What Led to the Decline of the iPod?

The Introduction of Apple iPod: A Love Story Between Music and Computers

1999 was the best year yet for the US music industry. Two things were expanding during this period. There were computers in more than 40% of homes.

Additionally, internet usage was multiplying.

People were burning CDs and listening to their friends' mixes. They downloaded songs from Napster and then bought MP3 players. But they were bulky - gray rectangles that weighed down your purse or pocket.

Apple introduced a portable music player iPod in October 2001. The iPod mp3 player, with a 5GB hard drive, promised to hold 1,000 songs in your pocket. It was easier to use for loading and purchasing music.

Apple offered a physical portable music player compatible with iTunes' online platform. The iPod allowed users to scroll through songs with their thumbs in a circular motion. People took notice of this easy-to-use control scheme.

Due to its high cost and only being able to be used on iMac computers, the device was received with mixed feelings.

As a result, Apple opened the Itunes music shop in April 2003. The Windows version was released six months later. It allowed customers to start their music libraries for $0.99 per song.

Anybody could now use an iPod and buy music.

Evolution of Apple and Its Business Model
Apple Inc. is an American multinational tech company headquartered in California. It designs, develops, & sells electronics, software, and online services.

iPod Revolutionizing the Music Industry

When the iPod came out, it was a game changer.

The Sony Walkman had been the standard portable music player before the iPod mp3 player. With Apple's iPod product, Sony's device became obsolete since it could only hold 250 songs with no expansion or more storage options. Apple's device allowed for up 1500 songs on one device alone.

With an iPod, you can listen to only the music you want when you want it. You don't have to buy the entire tape to listen to the one song you want. You don't have to wait until you can afford your favorite CD. You can listen to music while doing something else.

Now you have a tool that allows you to change the parameters of the tape and select only songs you enjoy. In turn, it had a ripple effect on the economy and how music was produced.

Apple Taking a Risk With iPod to Achieve Success

In 1999, CD sales accounted for $21 billion in US music sales. But CD players and early portable music players had many issues, including being big and clunky, skipping during playback, and holding few songs.

Apple saw an opportunity to create something small and powerful but needed to know what it was. Until former head of hardware, Jon Rubinstein met with Toshiba at a Macworld expo in Tokyo, who displayed a 1.8-inch hard drive. This small but revolutionary hard drive combined portability and storage.

On October 23, 2001, the first iPod was unveiled.

The iPod underwent design iterations throughout its existence. From a music player with a hard drive to a screenless fob to a scaled-down iPhone. It acquired several other capabilities over time.

The iPod Shuffle had only a few controls. It was called the "radio station" of iPods, making sense by its motto, "Controlling your radio station." The Nano, Mini, and Touch models followed. The Classic has a scroll wheel and is relatively large compared to its counterparts.

Due to the iPod's closed environment, Apple attributed its success to its popularity. Apple went on to become the largest company in the world thanks to this device.

What Led to the Decline of the iPod?

Tony Fadell - The co-creator of the iPod
Tony Fadell - The co-creator of the iPod

Apple kept the momentum going by introducing the iPod Mini and iPod Nano in 2005. Apple sold 22.5 million iPods in various configurations that year. It doubled its previous record from 2004 and four times the volume moved in 2003.

During its peak, iPods captured 80% of the market share. The true rivalry occurred when cell phones began to get data and MP3 capabilities. The co-creator of the iPhone, Tony Fadell, said that cell phones started to be 2.5G and started to resemble Sidekicks when they began putting on MP3s.

Before Apple introduced the iPod touch in 2007, they offered another device. It was known as the iPhone and included a phone, internet communicator, and iPod music app. It's not an iPod with an antenna. It allows users to browse the web, make phone calls, and play music.

The above graphs show the global sale of Apple iPod from 2006 to 2014 in million units
The above graphs show the global sale of Apple iPod from 2006 to 2014 in million units

In 2008, Apple introduced new iPod models. But the sales started to fall off when the iPhone experienced rapid expansion. There was a gadget with all the features of an iPod combined with a cell phone and internet capabilities.

Apple sold 14.4 million iPods in 2014, down from 55 million in 2008. The iPod only contributed 1.25% of Apple's revenue that year (2014). Apple stopped making the iPod classic, shuffle, and nano in 2017.

The iPod touch was last updated in 2019. It has stayed popular among kids and app developers as a low-cost iOS device. The upgrades were insignificant, though, appearing more like a feeble attempt to prolong the life of the last iPod.


Apple's iPod had a massive impact on music. It was the first device to popularize the concept of having music on the go. Although it is no longer for sale, the iPod touch pioneered that now-commonplace ability.

It's exciting and sentimental to remember what the iPod meant to us. It was an era when you could access music through infinite possibilities of streaming services.


Does iPod still exist in 2022?

Yes, iPod does still exist in 2022 as Apple still has an availability of the 7th generation of iPod touch which was first released back on May 2019.

What replaced the iPod?

Some of the devices that replaced the iPod are iPhone, Sony NW-A105 Walkman A Series, Aiworth, M17 Media Player, etc.

iPods were popular for multiple reasons. The best reason for it being popular was that no other company was able to introduce such a product in the market before Apple integrated iPods. iPods were way much easier to use and carry. The iPods were connected to iTunes stores for easy services.

Why did Apple stop selling iPods?

Apple slowly declined the production of iPods primarily because of the declining sales rate of iPods. Another reason was the introduction of a device with better abilities being made available in the market by Apple led to the shift in focus of customers that eventually closed the doors for the iPod market.

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