Tony Fadell, former employee of General Magic and Phillips, envisioned a brand new MP3 player. Unlike the flash memory-based MP3 players from existing companies, Fadell wanted to deliver a small hard drive-based player that was linked with a content delivery system where users could legally obtain and download music. The first company he pitched it to was RealNetworks (in 2000), who were already in control of a large content delivery system through Real's premium radio and television channels. Real could not rationalize going through the trouble of releasing an accessory to their already profitable system. Fadell then turned to Apple. The executives at Apple were very enthusiastic about implementing Fadell's plan at Apple - unbeknownst to Fadell, Apple had bought the rights to SoundJam MP months before. He was hired in early 2001 and was given a development team of around thirty people and a deadline of one year to release a successful product.
In early October, Apple began hyping the iPod's release (which was still a secret from the press after eight months of development). The hype culminated in an announcement that Apple would make a major announcement on October 23, 2001, and that it was "not Mac". The iPod was announced to the world from a rented auditorium near Apple's corporate campus in Cupertino. The audience - and the rest of the computer industry - was shocked by the product. No one grasped the importance of the device to Apple and the music industry in general until much later. Many reacted to the product with hostility, with criticisms that ranged from its $400 price to the scroll wheel and its lack of Windows compatibility.
The iPod's been around for a few years now but rather than being long in the tooth, it's been re-invented numerous times by Apple Inc. and is now a seriously impressive piece of kit. The recent advent of the iPod Touch has added to the line of existing models, rather than simply replacing existing technology. The result, is a lineup of different models, each bringing their own speciality to the table. From the ipod Nano, with solid state memory and minimal size to the iPod classic, with hard drive and excessively large storage capacity, the range of iPods available will suit everyone from Gym freaks to music fans.
So why is it so popular? Well, it's not so much the design any more, but the hype that surrounds the Apple iPod. You see, when originally released, the iPod was at the top of it's game, with the largest capacity, intuitive design and ergonomics built into the control buttons and software. We've moved on from that though. Every manufacturer out there has an Hard disk mp3 player in some major store. Apple however have moved the whole idea of the iPod, let alone it's range of computers, out of mainstream sales and into a Chique, hip and trendy twenty something got to have it style. Much like say- Greenwich was once a hip place to be seen in Manhattan. Apple have currently cornered the market- even created a brand new market all to themselves. Smacks of Sony and the Walkman all over again. At least Apple have the Mac to fall back on at the end of it all.