On 10 May Apple’s executives announced that they would discontinue the iPod. The music player, which first went on sale more than 20 years ago, might be nearing obsolescence, but few 21st-century innovations will leave such an enduring impression on the world. By putting “1,000 songs in your pocket” and reviving the Apple brand, the iPod didn’t just transform how people listened to music, it helped to redefine digital consumption.
“Without the iPod, Apple would never have launched the iPhone,” says Tony Fadell, who led the teams that produced both products. Without the iPhone, the App Store would never have existed. The success of many of the world’s most recognisable brands, from Facebook to Uber and Deliveroo to Spotify, can be attributed, at least in part, to the success of the iPod.
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