It’s 2001. Steve Jobs is back at Apple trying to right the ship and re-energize the company. He did. And it all started on a day 15 years ago when Jobs took the stage to announce a new product that was a departure from everything the company had done. It was the first iPod. And it was the iPod that gave Apple a hit (eventually) and helped helped bring back the company’s mojo.
That’s why it’s funny to watch the video of the event. It’s far from the huge, masterfully presented press extravaganzas we attend today. I recognize a few long-time Apple reporters in the audience. The room is very small, and the seats aren’t even completely filled up. The attendees look only mildly interested in the presentation. A slide projector is shooting some really sketchy-looking slides up behind Jobs. The bad graphics. The goofy font.
“To have your whole CD library with you at all times is a quantum leap when it comes to music,” Jobs told the audience. “You can fit your whole music library in your pocket.” Here’s the MacWorld news story about the event.
The $399 iPod went on sale November 10 and by the end of the year had sold a grand total of 125,000 units. Of course, that first iPod spawned numerous versions, which together sold millions around the world.
By 2004 Apple was selling almost 40 million iPods a year. Sales peaked in 2008 when Apple shipped 54.8 million units. After sales of the iPhone (which launched in 2007) started to take off, iPod sales began to decline rapidly. The smartphone had swallowed the music player.