As Macworld's Scott McNulty notes, the iPod quietly turned 8 last Friday. My first reaction: Only 8? Hasn't it been with us forever?
But no. On Oct. 23, 2001, Steve Jobs introduced Apple's first portable music player. It only worked with Macs. There was no online store where you could download music, so you had to rip all your songs from CDs. It was chunky, held 5GB of music, and cost $400.
Yet it was still the coolest device ever introduced up to that point -- what Macworld editor Jason Snell described as "the first iconic product of the 21st century." Nothing has been the same since.
Certainly not Apple. The iPod transformed Apple from the company that made computers for guys with ponytails into The Company That Knows What Consumers Want. Apple went from being the competitor Microsoft could crush if it really tried into the organization Microsoft wishes it was.
In 2001 Apple took in around $5.4 billion, nearly all of it from sales of Macs. It posted a loss of $25 million. Last year, Apple raked in $36.5 billion (and nearly $6 billion in profits) split among iPods and iPhones, Macs, and digital content.
No iPod? No iTunes, no iPhone, no App Store and -- I believe -- no Apple.