This Week In History: The iPod Revolutionizes the Music World

On November 10th 2001 the very first iPod hit the market, changing the way the world consumes music.

It is easy to take for granted our ability to stream almost any song you want, whenever you want, wherever you are, and listen to it on a small device that fits in your pocket. Of course this was not always the case, and until the first iPod came around in 2001, portable music devices were bulky, cumbersome contraptions that only offered as many songs as you could physically carry.

Yes the earliest digital players that predated the iPod could store mp3 files, but their limited storage capacity and frustrating interfaces left much to be desired. When Apple announced that their new music device could store a whopping 1,000 songs on a device about the size of a deck of cards, they transformed both the tech world and the music industry.

Along with the rise of digital file sharing, the iPod is credited for causing major shifts in the music industry. Within five years of the iPod’s release, digital music sales outnumbered CD sales for the first time. Purchasing habits changed as well, and after the iPod buyers of digital music purchased singles over albums by a margin of 19 to 1. The album era appeared to be over, as people began favouring the ability to pick and choose individual tracks rather than committing to a complete full length album.

Over 26 million iPods have been purchased since its introduction. But in 2007, Apple revolutionized the tech world again by introducing the iPhone. Over the next decade, smartphones and digital streaming began to take over, and the iPod fell out of favour as people preferred to listen on their phone. In 2014 the original iPod design was discontinued, but its mark on the music world remains.