Though Microsoft is now downplaying reports that it is working on a music store and portable music player to rival Apple's iPod, it is no secret that Apple faces an uphill climb. As the distant market leader, it faces an array of challengers all determined to do one thing: knock Apple out of first place. In addition, the near-ubiquity of the iPod, combined with how long the product has been shipping, means that many people have now heard of someone somewhere having a problem with their iPod, and the frequency of those stories will only increase with time.
What can Apple do to continue to press forward and ensure that people looking to buy the next generation of player again choose an iPod? How can they add new features people want without compromising the simplicity and elegance that is their trademark?
The First Generation iPod debuted October 23, 2001. It was marketed with the tagline "Put 1,000 songs in your pocket," and was an instant success. Apple sold 125,000 iPods by the end of the year, even though the devices only worked with Macintosh computers. It had a 5GB capacity.
In March, 2002, Apple released a 10GB iPod, and now you could "put 2,000 songs in your pocket."
On July 17, 2002, Apple released the Second Generation iPod. Now with a 20GB capacity, the device worked with both Windows and Macintosh computers, though Windows users had to use MusicMatch Jukebox, and iTunes for Windows had not yet been developed. Most importantly, the 2G iPod was the first to eliminate the scroll wheel.
The 1G iPod had wheels that physically turned, and like all moving parts, that meant problems. My own 10GB iPod scrolls a little roughly, but it still works. Others weren't so fortunate. With the 2G iPod came a touch-sensitive "wheel" that didn't actually move at all.
Apple announces the Third Generation iPod on April 28, 2003. The new device came in 10GB, 15GB, and 30GB models, and were smaller, lighter, and had a different button layout and adaptor. More importantly, iTunes 4, released that same day, also featured the debut of the iTunes Music Store.