When Apple launched its iconic iPod it revolutionised the music industry. But with sales down 52 per cent on last year, its days may now be numbered. We look back at the glory days of the world’s favourite portable music player
Classic 1st generation
This is where it all started: it was by no means the first MP3 player but it was the first one that was any good. The wheel design may seem very last decade today but at the time it was genre-defining, cementing Apple’s credentials as the number one product designer in the world.
Classic 4th generation
The iPod evolved relatively slowly in its early years, certainly by today’s fast and furious standards. By the fourth generation model in 2004 we had a colour screen, touch-sensitive wheel selector and a smoother, brushed aluminium finish that would feature in the design of future devices.
iPod Mini 1st generation
The first major deviation from the design of the classic iPod was the Mini, which offered less storage but could fit comfortably in your pocket and was a hit with joggers. It was also the first time Apple introduced a variety of colours, attracting younger customers who would grow up with the brand.
Classic 5th generation
By the fifth generation, Apple had packed in enough hardware to include the ability to play videos on the screen. While the amount of storage and size of the screen made watching full length movies unrealistic, it demonstrated Apple was able to scale down its technology.
iPod Nano 3rd gen
This model was noticeably tubbier than its predecessor but Apple felt the weight gain was worth it for the extra half an inch of screen. This Nano was all about the music video. Apple also bumped off the 2GB option as the low-capacity market had been expertly filled by the Shuffle.
iPod Shuffle 2nd gen
The Shuffle was completely re-invented with this model. It burst into colour for the first time, available in green, purple, red, silver and blue. An extra GB of memory was added and it was radically reshaped into a handy clip so you could attach it to your clothes while out and about.
iPod Nano 1st gen
The Nano replaced the Mini, and, as the name suggests, made it smaller. It maintained the colour screen of the Classic but housed it in an almost unbelievably thin brushed aluminium case. It was one of the most successful of the iPod iterations, combining portability and function – a real classic.
iPod Shuffle 1st gen
This is when Apple’s obsession with making gadgets tiny really took off. It did away with the screen and crammed a very respectable amount of storage into a device the size of a USB drive. Fitting easily into the palm of your hand, it was a great example of purity of design.
iPod Touch 1st gen
The first generation iPod Touch was a watershed moment in the iPod’s lifetime, not just because it marked the first use of the now ubiquitous Multi-Touch interface, but because it was the first iPod with wi-fi technology. For the first time users could wirelessly access the iTunes store.
iPod Nano 4th gen
Of all iPod iterations, the Nano has had the most dramatic fluctuations in appearance. The squat design chosen for the third generation proved a short-lived experiment – a year later they reverted to the taller shape, this time with a longer screen, nine colour choices and an accelerometer that allowed for horizontal viewing.
iPod Touch 4th gen
The fourth generation iPod Touch looks like a tiny version of the first iPad, and that’s basically what it is. With Facetime, HD video, and retina display, the 4th generation Touch has virtually everything the iPhone 4 has apart from 3G and the capacity to make phone calls.
iPod Touch 5th gen
Apple claims the 5th generation iPod Touch is “engineered for maximum funness.” These days the iPod is as much about gaming as it is about music, and what better way to game than with its superlight aluminium body and 4-inch retina display. You can make your own art, too: the five megapixel iSight camera shoots 1080p HD video.