Saying farewell to a longtime friend

iPod Nano

Apple has just announced that after a little over 20 years, they’re finally ending production of the iPod.

It’s the end of an incredibly successful run that began with Steve Jobs’s vision of a totally new product that would appeal more of the masses to Apple, and tap into the fast-growing appeal of digital music media (MP3s).

Personally, the iPod served as a personal companion on many long-haul flights. It also was a vital aide in helping me learn to speak French in the early to mid-2000s.

And I used the iPod to discover a wide variety of podcasts, itself a mainstay of explosive popularity throughout the 2000s.

For Apple, the iPod came at a time when the company was already experiencing renewed success from a new generation of Macs that dramatically revived the company’s brand image, and reinvigorated its fortunes after near-bankruptcy the previous decade.

And the iPod’s popularity further accelerated with the launch of the iTunes Store in 2003, the first such offering of legally available digital music with a hard-fought victory over the music labels to charge $0.99 per song – when for years the labels would never compromise on selling music only as complete albums – for $16.99.

In a sense, the iPod’s ultimate legacy is serving as the “gateway drug” for its massive fan base to an even more successful Apple product: the iPhone.

As the iPod continued its success into the mid-2000s, anticipation and excitement were building over a rumored new-generation “iPod” that would also serve as a phone, and feature an all-new, touch screen design beyond the familiar small screen with the famous click wheel.

Of course, that did happen, in 2007.

Steve Jobs originally envisioned the iPod as a product that would bring in new Mac customers. Instead, it single-handedly made Apple a household name for mobile products, even more so than the Mac.

Farewell to a product that lives in that rarefied air of incredible success.