Today in Apple history: iPod shows it has life after iPhone


The first iPod touch, released in 2007.
Apple released three new iPods, including the first iPod touch, in 2007.
Photo: Apple

5SeptSeptember 5, 2007: Apple introduces its first new iPods after the release of the iPhone. The lineup includes the third-gen iPod nano, the newly renamed iPod Classic and — most significantly — the debut of the iPod touch.

In doing so, Apple sets out to demonstrate that there is still plenty of life left in the iconic portable music player.

iPod touch debuts after the iPhone

The September 2007 refresh of the iPod range marked an important turning point in the product’s lifecycle. The original iPod, released in 2001, became one of the most iconic products Apple ever created. However, a fatal blow was struck against it in 2007, when Apple introduced the iPhone.

The first iPod Classic not available in white.

Standing onstage to introduce the new smartphone that January, Apple CEO Steve Jobs described the iPhone as a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device, but also as a widescreen iPod with touch controls.

It was a great way to explain to people what the iPhone was, and what it did. However, the pitch also undercut the iPod in the same way that the Macintosh’s arrival undercut the Apple II. If Apple was packaging those three items together in a stunning new device, why would anyone in their right mind want to buy them separately?

The three new iPods represented Apple’s attempt to answer that question.

The new, third-gen iPod nano competed with the iPhone as a music player by virtue of being tiny. The refreshed nano boasted a 2-inch QVGA display and a shorter, wider design than its predecessors. It also added a new interface, video playback, new colors and support for iPod Games.

The iPod Classic, meanwhile, refreshed Apple’s original iPod brand by giving it a sheen of retro chic. This was the sixth version of Apple’s original clickwheel iPod. Apple marked the occasion by giving it a slimmer body, significantly improved battery life and — for the first time — a new color. This model replaced the signature white polycarbonate plastic exterior with a silver one.

This was the first time an iPod was not available in white.

Bring on the iPod touch

The most important new iPod, however, was the iPod touch. The iPod touch was basically the iPhone without a phone (or, as Jobs would later quip, the “iPhone without a contract.”)

It ticked many boxes iPod fans had wanted for a number of years. It was a widescreen, Wi-Fi-enabled portable media device, and also offered internet browsing, Apple’s multi-touch interface, an accelerometer, an integrated rear camera and more.

The iPod touch was important not just because it was the most dramatically different iPod that Apple had released in years. It also made clear how Apple viewed the iPod fitting into its wider product line. Instead of being the device Apple built its empire around, the iPod touch was the “training wheels” designed to get younger customers into the Apple ecosystem. This was the iPhone before you got your first real iPhone.

It also arguably tested the waters for the later iPad — which some initially viewed as a bigger iPod touch.

Did you buy a new iPod in 2007? If so, which model did you opt for and why? Leave your comments below.


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