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The birth of the iPod

Benj Edwards | Oct. 24, 2011
The destiny of Apple changed drastically 10 years ago with the release of a deceptively simple digital music player.

In response to Steve Jobs' digital hub strategy, Chieco began brainstorming about what interfaces with a hub. Chieco imagined a spaceship as being the ultimate hub from which a smaller craft--a pod (think "Shuttlepod" in Star Trek)--could come and go.

Better yet, iPod wasn't descriptive of the music player's function, allowing the iPod's capabilities to evolve over time without needing a name change. Steve Jobs liked it, and the name stuck.

After considerable work, Apple marketing managed to pull together a campaign that emphasized style and fashion over tech specs, which were familiar approaches for personal audio products. It would turn out to be a winning strategy.

Against adversity, iPod

After six months of hard work, the iPod began to come together. The concentrated and well-organized efforts of Apple's various iPod teams proved that they could finish the product in time, but one hiccup almost got in the way.

The events of September 11, 2001, took place during the final stretch of the iPod's development. As the attacks unfolded, an Apple team carrying key iPod prototypes from Taiwan landed on U.S. soil--just before the U.S. government shut down air travel nationwide. The iPod prototypes made it in time.

The events of 9/11 galvanized the goals of the iPod project. Apple employees adopted an ethos common to the time: if they stopped performing their regular duties--if they stopped pouring their passions into products they loved to create--they were accepting defeat. Fadell says that the iPod group's persevering spirit proved essential in preventing a delay that would have resulted in Apple missing the 2001 Christmas shopping season.

The iPod team met its deadline, shipping the first iPod in November 2001. To date, Apple has now sold more than 304 million iPods.


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