My Favorite Apple

The Making of iPods Cool

Written By: Scott - Jan• 17•16
3 gens of iPods

1st, 2nd and 3rd Gen iPods

Collecting pieces of Apple’s history is fun. I like the devices, but at the same time I get off on the era they reflect.

There are many examples from Apple’s history illustrating their willingness to step out with a revolutionary device, but sometimes they’d let another company make a device first. Obviously, they didn’t produce the first MP3 player, nor did they make the first smartphone or even the first tablet. In those cases, Apple knew they could make each of these better. Significantly better. They did just that. We now know the iPod ultimately became a core product for the computer maker.


The iPod and all the generations and models stand as an icon representing THE device for music lovers. Fast forward to today, we know the iPhone cannibalized the iPod, but Apple knows when that is likely to happen with their devices and machines.

From the introduction of the “classic” first gen iPod, Apple wanted to stay way ahead of the competition. I don’t know if we could call the original iPod revolutionary, like the iPhone and iPad, but Steve stood on it as significantly more user-friendly than the other MP3 devices available at the time.

iPod dancersApple also has this way about making their products, and in this case, the iPod, super cool and they made us see it that way too.

That’s how they succeeded with the iPod. Apple branded this device as the hippest thing on the planet. I love the dancing silhouettes campaign particularly and it was with the introduction of their 3rd generation iPod in 2003 when the dancing started. Just a silhouette of a person rocking out, but with a white device held in their hand, and of course, white earbuds in their ears.

iPodApple launched the 3rd gen in April of 2003 and, of course, Steve was out there bragging on it.

“The competition hasn’t even caught up with our first generation iPod, and we’re introducing our third generation,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

And then Apple started a new ad campaign with the dancing silhouettes in September of that year. The first ads were placed on outdoor billboards in Los Angels. After three months of silhouette advertising, iPod sales were up by 50 percent over that of the previous quarter.  In the U.S. by then, the iPod also had the biggest market share of all MP3 players. Apple outspent the competition by “a factor of about a hundred” according to Steve.

iPod ad

Apple, meanwhile, was doing a full-court press pushing for a media “buzz effect” on its iPod + iTunes music and marketing. By December 2003, Apple’s PR machine had secured 6,000 iPod stories in publications worldwide.  Advertising Age magazine named Apple “marketer of the year” based on the its iPod advertising campaign.

Apple sold over two million iPods, and iTunes more than 50 million songs by the end of 2003. They stopped using the dancing silhouettes in 2011 and by that time they had sold over 300 million iPods and we’d downloaded over 15 Billion songs off iTunes. I’d say all the dancers performed very well for the music giant.







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