The iPod turns 15 years old today. I thought it would be fun to revisit early coverage of the music player to see how people responded to it at the time.
No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.
Jonathan Seff at Macworld didn’t seem to think the Nomad comparison was a big deal, and praised the speed FireWire 400 brought to transfers:
The iPod has a smaller hard drive than the 20GB, USB-based Nomad Jukebox, but its FireWire interface makes the USB connections on other MP3 players seem slower than molasses. It takes hours to transfer 5GB of music files to a music player that connects via USB; the iPod can transfer that amount in as little as 12 minutes.
Walt Mossberg was impressed and compared the iPod to other MP3 players of the day:
Portable digital music players are frustrating gadgets. These hand-held devices, which play songs in the MP3 format, seem like a great idea, but they are hobbled by major drawbacks.
Some can hold only a scant 10-20 songs on little memory cards too expensive to buy in quantity. Others include built-in hard disks that can hold hundreds or thousands of songs, but are large and bulky with lousy battery life.
For the past 10 days or so, however, I’ve been testing a terrific digital music player that solves all of these problems. It has massive storage capacity, is small and light enough to slip into a pocket and can be run nonstop for an impressive amount of time. Its controls are simple and clear, and it downloads music from a computer at blazing speeds.
It’s no surprise that this new music player, called the iPod, comes from a company with a long history of great engineering and user-oriented design: Apple Computer. This is Apple’s first noncomputer product in years, and it’s a design home run. The iPod is simply the best digital music player I’ve seen. It costs $399, and will be available Nov. 10.
Apple clearly believes that the iPod’s advances in size, speed, function and elegance are worth the $150 price premium, but not everyone feels that way. In an informal poll at the Macworld.com Web site, 40 percent of Mac fans indicated that they would not be buying an iPod, and every single one cited the price.
It should also be noted, however, that the remaining 60 percent had either already ordered iPods or were virtually drooling onto their keyboards. They are among the first to succumb to the lure of the most beautiful and cleverly engineered MP3 player ever. But if Apple ever lowers the iPod’s price and develops Windows software for it, watch out: the invasion of the iPod people will surely begin in earnest.
Apple would end up doing both, but that’s a story for a different time.
Margaret Kane wondered if the $399 price tag was too high:
It’s an important product for Apple. For starters, the iPod is the company’s first foray into the consumer electronics market and marks an effort to use Mac-powered devices to drive sales for its product line. The move comes with a question mark, however: Has Apple created another iMac-like hit or a well-designed but too expensive flop like its Cube?
Eliot Van Buskirk didn’t seem to share that concern, and wrote an amazingly forward-thinking review:
I know that Mac-only compatibility is just one of the things that people will complain about in reference to this device. But the naysayers have it wrong, and I’ll tell you why: The iPod is revolutionary in a number of ways, and its descendants will replace the PC.
(I’m typing this on my iPad.)
Not everyone could see this future. Rodney O. Lain didn’t:
I don’t want Apple to relegate itself to an also-ran. Apple is shaping up, with the iPod, to be the Sony of the computer industry. This bodes well for those interested in more “pedestrian” devices like MP3 players. But there are those of us who would like an Apple solution for tasks like portable computing, easy networking (when is AirPort gonna move past 11 Mbps?), and power computing. This is the end towards which the company is money will be made.