Editor’s note: We originally published this illustrated history of the iPod to celebrate the device’s 10th anniversary on Oct. 22, 2011 (and updated it a decade later). We republished it on May 10, 2022, when Apple finally pulled the plug on the iPod.
The iPod grew out of Steve Jobs’ digital hub strategy. Life was going digital. People were plugging all kinds of devices into their computers: digital cameras, camcorders, MP3 players.
The computer was the central device, the “digital hub,” that could be used to edit photos and movies or manage a large music library. Jobs tasked Apple’s programmers with making software for editing photos, movies and managing digital music. While they were doing this, they discovered that all the early MP3 players were horrible. Jobs asked his top hardware guy, Jon Rubinstein, to see if Apple could do better.
For decades, Apple had a long-running dispute going with the Beatles over their eponymous fruitarian trademark. Namely, Apple Corps. congolomerate — a mult-armed multimedia corporation founded by the Beatles in 1968 — had a problem with Apple Computers stepping all over their TM. In 1981, Apple settled the dispute for the first time by paying Apple Corps. $80,000 and promising to never enter the music business, but then in 2001, Apple launched both the iPod and iTunes, starting the hostilities anew.
Everything came to a resolution in 2007, when Apple took ownership of all trademarks related to “Apple”, including Apple Corps’s granny smith apple logo, and agreed to license them back to Apple Corps. for their continued use.
Today, we’re seeing the last apple fall from that treet, as the Canadian IP Office has just disclosed that the Beatles’ iconic recording label is now Apple, Inc. registered trademark. Isn’t that nice?