MP3 players already existed, such as Malda’s Nomad Jukebox, and they were technically better, with larger hard drives, replaceable batteries, and compatibility with both Windows and Mac (the iPod would take another year to come to Windows). What did Apple have to offer?
With hindsight, the answer is obvious. The iPod looked cool: it had a sleek aluminium shell half the size of its competitors, and a physical scroll wheel that could zoom through the trademark “1,000 songs in your pocket”.
By 2003 Apple’s advertising agency, Chiat/Day, had come up with silhouette adverts to promote the iPod. The ads were almost too successful, turning the iPod’s white earphones into such a marker of desirability that the Metropolitan police blamed them for a 26% rise in street robberies in 2005.
The iPod revolutionised Apple’s fortunes, kicking off a five-fold increase in its share price over the following five years, and providing a gateway drug for winning round Windows users to its Mac ecosystem. But it also changed the company on a fundamental level, turning it from a computer manufacturer into a consumer electronics designer.
In January 2007, the company completed this transformation, announcing that it was changing its name from Apple Computer to Apple Inc. That same day, it also announced something else: the iPhone.