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The current iPod line. From left to right: iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, iPod Classic, iPod Touch.
Manufacturer Apple Inc.
Type Portable Media Player (PMP)
Units sold Over 151,000,000 worldwide
as of April 2008[1]
CPU Samsung ARM
Online services iTunes Store
App Store

iPod is a brand of portable media players designed and marketed by Apple Inc. and launched on October 23, 2001 (2001-10-23). The product line-up includes the hard drive-based iPod Classic, the touchscreen iPod Touch, the video-capable iPod Nano, and the compact iPod Shuffle. The iPhone can function as an iPod but is generally treated as a separate product. Former iPod models include the iPod Mini and the spin-off iPod Photo (since reintegrated into the main iPod Classic line). iPod Classic models store media on an internal hard drive, while all other models use flash memory to enable their smaller size (the discontinued Mini used a Microdrive miniature hard drive). As with many other digital music players, iPods, excluding the iPod Touch, can also serve as external data storage devices. Storage capacity varies by model.

Apple's iTunes software can be used to transfer music to the devices from computers using certain versions of Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows operating systems.[2] For users who choose not to use Apple's software or whose computers cannot run iTunes software, several open source alternatives to iTunes are also available.[3] iTunes and its alternatives may also transfer photos, videos, games, contact information, e-mail settings, Web bookmarks, and calendars to iPod models supporting those features. As of September 2008, more than 173,000,000 iPods had been sold worldwide, making it the best-selling digital audio player series in history.[4]


[edit] History and design

The iPod Classic 5G (right) and 6G (left) showing the improved album view

The iPod line came from Apple's "digital hub" category,[5] when the company began creating software for the growing market of personal digital devices. Digital cameras, camcorders and organizers had well-established mainstream markets, but the company found existing digital music players "big and clunky or small and useless" with user interfaces that were "unbelievably awful,"[5] so Apple decided to develop its own. As ordered by CEO Steve Jobs, Apple's hardware engineering chief Jon Rubinstein assembled a team of engineers to design the iPod line, including hardware engineers Tony Fadell and Michael Dhuey,[6] and design engineer Jonathan Ive.[5] The product was developed in less than one year and unveiled on 23 October 2001. Jobs announced it as a Mac-compatible product with a 5 GB hard drive that put "1,000 songs in your pocket."[7]

Apple did not develop the iPod software entirely in-house, instead using PortalPlayer's reference platform based on 2 ARM cores. The platform had rudimentary software running on a commercial microkernel embedded operating system. PortalPlayer had previously been working on an IBM-branded MP3 player with Bluetooth headphones.[5] Apple contracted another company, Pixo, to help design and implement the user interface under the direct supervision of Steve Jobs.[5] As development progressed, Apple continued to refine the software's look and feel. Starting with the iPod Mini, the Chicago font was replaced with Espy Sans. Later iPods switched fonts again to Podium Sans—a font similar to Apple's corporate font, Myriad. iPods with color displays then adopted some Mac OS X themes like Aqua progress bars, and brushed metal meant to evoke a combination lock. In 2007, Apple modified the iPod interface again with the introduction of the sixth-generation iPod Classic and third-generation iPod Nano by changing the font to Helvetica and, in most cases, splitting the screen in half by displaying the menus on the left and album artwork, photos, or videos on the right (whichever was appropriate for the selected item).

In September 2007, during the course of a lawsuit with patent holding company Burst.com, Apple drew attention to a patent for a similar device that was developed in 1979. Kane Kramer patented the idea of a "plastic music box" in 1979, which he called the IXI.[8] He was unable to secure funding to renew the US$ 120,000 worldwide patent, so it lapsed and Kramer never profited from his idea.[8] Kramer is now in talks with the company to discuss how he will be reimbursed.[8]

[edit] Trademark

The name iPod was proposed by Vinnie Chieco, a freelance copywriter, who (with others) was called by Apple to figure out how to introduce the new player to the public. After Chieco saw a prototype, he thought of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and the phrase "Open the pod bay door, Hal!", which refers to the white EVA Pods of the Discovery One spaceship.[5] Apple researched the trademark and found that it was already in use. Joseph N. Grasso of New Jersey had originally listed an "iPod" trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in July 2000 for Internet kiosks. The first iPod kiosks had been demonstrated to the public in New Jersey in March 1998, and commercial use began in January 2000, but had apparently been discontinued by 2001. The trademark was registered by the USPTO in November 2003, and Grasso assigned it to Apple Computer, Inc. in 2005.[9]

[edit] Software

The iPod line can play several audio file formats including MP3, AAC/M4A, Protected AAC, AIFF, WAV, Audible audiobook, and Apple Lossless. The iPod Photo introduced the ability to display JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and PNG image file formats. Fifth and sixth generation iPod Classics, as well as third generation iPod Nanos, can additionally play MPEG-4 (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC) and QuickTime video formats, with restrictions on video dimensions, encoding techniques and data-rates.[10] Originally, iPod software only worked with Mac OS; iPod software for Microsoft Windows was launched with the second generation model.[11] Unlike most other media players, Apple does not support Microsoft's WMA audio format—but a converter for WMA files without Digital Rights Management (DRM) is provided with the Windows version of iTunes. MIDI files also cannot be played, but can be converted to audio files using the "Advanced" menu in iTunes. Alternative open-source audio formats, such as Ogg Vorbis and FLAC, are not supported without installing custom firmware onto an iPod (e.g. Rockbox).

During installation, an iPod is associated with one host computer. Each time an iPod connects to its host computer, iTunes can synchronize entire music libraries or music playlists either automatically or manually. Song ratings can be set on an iPod and synchronized later to the iTunes library, and vice versa. A user can access, play, and add music on a second computer if an iPod is set to manual and not automatic sync, but anything added or edited will be reversed upon connecting and syncing with the main computer and its library. If a user wishes to automatically sync music with another computer, an iPod's library will be entirely wiped and replaced with the other computer's library.

[edit] User interface

The iPod line's signature click wheel

iPods with color displays use anti-aliased graphics and text, with sliding animations. All iPods (except the iPod shuffle and iPod touch) have five buttons and the later generations have the buttons integrated into the click wheel—an innovation that gives an uncluttered, minimalist interface. The buttons perform basic functions such as menu, play, pause, next track, and previous track. Other operations such as scrolling through menu items and controlling the volume are performed by using the click wheel in a rotational manner. The iPod shuffle does not have any controls on the actual player, instead it has a small control on the earphones cable, with volume up and down buttons and a single button for play/pause, next track, etc. The iPod Touch has no click-wheel. Instead it uses a 3.5" touch screen in addition to a home button, sleep/wake button and (on the second generation iPod touch) volume up and down buttons. The user interface for the iPod touch is virtually identical to the iPhone. Both devices use the iPhone OS.

[edit] iTunes Store

The iTunes Store is an online media store run by Apple and accessed via iTunes. It was introduced on 29 April 2003 and it sells individual songs, with typical prices being US$0.99, AU$1.69 (inc. GST), NZ$1.79 (inc. GST), 0.99 (inc. VAT), or £0.79 (inc. VAT) per song. Since no other portable player supports the DRM used, only iPods can play protected content from the iTunes Store. The store became the market leader soon after its launch[12] and Apple announced the sale of videos through the store on 12 October 2005. Full-length movies became available on 12 September 2006.[13]

Purchased audio files use the AAC format with added encryption. The encryption is based on the FairPlay DRM system. Up to five authorized computers and an unlimited number of iPods can play the files. Burning the files onto an audio CD, then re-compressing can create music files without the DRM, although this results in reduced quality. The DRM can also be removed using third-party software. However, in a deal with Apple, EMI began selling DRM-free, higher-quality songs on the iTunes Stores, in a category called "iTunes Plus." While individual songs were made available at a cost of US$1.29, 30¢ more than the cost of a regular DRM song, entire albums were available for the same price, US$9.99, as DRM encoded albums. On 17 October 2007, Apple lowered the cost of individual iTunes Plus songs to US$0.99 per song, the same as DRM encoded tracks. On January 6, 2009, Apple announced that DRM has been removed from 80% of the music catalog, and that it will be removed from all music by April, 2009.

iPods cannot play music files from competing music stores that use rival-DRM technologies like Microsoft's protected WMA or RealNetworks' Helix DRM. Example stores include Napster and MSN Music. RealNetworks claims that Apple is creating problems for itself[14] by using FairPlay to lock users into using the iTunes Store. Steve Jobs has stated that Apple makes little profit from song sales, although Apple uses the store to promote iPod sales.[15] However, iPods can also play music files from online stores that do not use DRM, such as eMusic or Amie Street.

Universal Music Group decided not to renew their contract with the iTunes Music Store on 3 July 2007. Universal will now supply iTunes in an 'at will' capacity.[16]

Apple debuted the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store on 5 September 2007, in its Media Event entitled "The Beat Goes On..." This service allows users to access the Music Store from either an iPhone or an iPod Touch and download songs directly to the device that can be synced to the user's iTunes Library.

[edit] Games

Video games are playable on various versions of iPods. The original iPod had the game Brick (originally invented by Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak) included as an easter egg hidden feature; later firmware versions added it as a menu option. Later revisions of the iPod added three more games in addition to Brick: Parachute, Solitaire, and Music Quiz.

In September 2006 the iTunes Store began to offer additional games for purchase with the launch of iTunes 7, compatible with the fifth generation iPod with iPod software 1.2 or later. Those games were: Bejeweled, Cubis 2, Mahjong, Mini Golf, Pac-Man, Tetris, Texas Hold 'Em, Vortex, and Zuma. Additional games have since been added. These games work on current and immediate previous generation of the iPod Nano and iPod Classic.

With third parties like Namco, Square Enix, Electronic Arts, Sega, and Hudson Soft all making games for the iPod, Apple's MP3 player has taken great steps towards entering the video game handheld console market.[neutrality disputed] Even video game magazines like GamePro and EGM have reviewed and rated most of their games as of late.[citation needed]

The games are in the form of .ipg files, which are actually .zip archives in disguise. When unzipped, they reveal executable files along with common audio and image files, leading to the possibility of third party games. Apple has not publicly released a software development kit (SDK) for iPod-specific development.[17] Apps produced with the iPhone SDK are compatible only the iPhone OS on the iPod Touch and iPhone, which cannot run clickwheel-based games.

[edit] File storage and transfer

All iPods except for the iPod Touch can function in "disk mode" as a mass storage devices to store data files.[18] If an iPod is formatted on a Mac OS X computer it uses the HFS+ file system format, which allows it to serve as a boot disk for a Mac computer.[19] If it is formatted on Windows, the FAT32 format is used. With the advent of the Windows-compatible iPod, the default file system used on the iPod line switched from HFS+ to FAT32, although it can be reformatted to either file system (excluding the iPod Shuffle which is strictly FAT32). Generally, if a new iPod (excluding the iPod Shuffle) is initially plugged into a computer running Windows, it will be formatted with FAT32, and if initially plugged into a Mac running Mac OS X it will be formatted with HFS+.[citation needed]

Unlike many other MP3 players, simply copying audio or video files to the drive with a typical file management application will not allow an iPod to properly access them. The user must use software that has been specifically designed to transfer media files to iPods, so that the files are playable and viewable. Usually iTunes is used to transfer media to an iPod, though several alternative third-party applications are available on a number of different platforms.

iTunes 7 and above can transfer purchased media of the iTunes Store from an iPod to a computer, provided that computer containing the DRM protected media is authorized to play it.

Media files are stored on an iPod in a hidden folder, along with a proprietary database file. The hidden content can be accessed on the host operating system by enabling hidden files to be shown. The media files can then be recovered manually by copying the files or folders off the iPod. Many third-party applications also allow easy copying of media files off of an iPod.

[edit] Hardware

Chipsets and Electronics
Chipset or Electronic Product(s) Component(s)
Microcontroller iPod first to third generations Two ARM 7TDMI-derived CPUs running at 90 MHz
iPod fourth and fifth generations, iPod Mini, iPod Nano first generation Variable-speed ARM 7TDMI CPUs, running at a peak of 80 MHz to save battery life
iPod Nano second generation Samsung System-On-Chip, based around an ARM processor.[20]
iPod Shuffle first generation SigmaTel STMP3550 chip that handles both the music decoding and the audio circuitry.[21]
Audio Chip All iPods (except the shuffle, 6G and the iPod Touch 2nd Generation [22]) Audio Codecs developed by Wolfson Microelectronics
Sixth generation iPods Cirrus Logic Audio Codec Chip
Storage Medium iPod first to fifth generation, iPod classic 45.7 mm (1.8 in) hard drives (ATA-6, 4200 rpm with proprietary connectors) made by Toshiba
iPod Mini 25.4 mm (1 in) Microdrive by Hitachi and Seagate
iPod Nano Flash Memory from Samsung, Toshiba, and others
iPod shuffle and touch Flash Memory
Batteries iPod first and second generation, Shuffle Internal Lithium Polymer Batteries
iPod third to fifth generation, iPod nano, iPod classic, iPod touch Internal Lithium-Ion Batteries

[edit] Connectivity

Two iPod wall chargers, with FireWire (left) and USB (right) connectors, which allow iPods to charge without a computer.

Originally, a FireWire connection to the host computer was used to update songs or recharge the battery. The battery could also be charged with a power adapter that was included with the first four generations. The third generation began including a dock connector, allowing for FireWire or USB connectivity. This provided better compatibility with non-Apple machines, as most of them did not have FireWire ports at the time. The dock connector also brought opportunities to exchange data, sound and power with an iPod, which ultimately created a large market of accessories, manufactured by third parties such as Belkin and Griffin. The second generation iPod Shuffle uses a single 3.5 mm jack which acts as both a headphone jack and a data port for the dock.

Eventually Apple began shipping iPods with USB cables instead of FireWire, although the latter was available separately. As of the first generation iPod Nano and the fifth generation iPod Classic, Apple discontinued using FireWire for data transfer (while still allowing for use of FireWire to charge the device) in an attempt to reduce cost and form factor. As of the second-generation iPod Touch and the fourth-generation iPod Nano, FireWire charging ability has been removed.

[edit] iPod dock connector

Introduced in the third-generation iPod, a 30-pin dock connector allows iPods to be connected to a variety of accessories, which can range from televisions to speaker systems. Some peripherals utilize their own interface, while others use an iPod's own screen for access. Such accessories may be used for music, video, and photo playback. Because the dock connector is a proprietary interface, the implementation of the interface requires paying royalties to Apple.[23]

[edit] Accessories

Many accessories have been made for the iPod line. A large number are made by third party companies, although many, such as the late iPod Hi-Fi, are made by Apple. This market is sometimes described as the iPod ecosystem.[24] Some accessories add extra features that other music players have, such as sound recorders, FM radio tuners, wired remote controls, and audio/visual cables for TV connections. Other accessories offer unique features like the Nike+iPod pedometer and the iPod Camera Connector. Other notable accessories include external speakers, wireless remote controls, protective cases/films and wireless earphones.[25] Among the first accessory manufacturers were Griffin Technology, Belkin, JBL, Bose, Monster Cable, and SendStation.

Two designs of iPod earphones. The current version is shown on the right.

The white earphones (or "earbuds") that ship with all iPods have become symbolic of the brand. Advertisements feature them prominently, often contrasting the white earphones (and cords) with people shown as dark silhouettes. The original earphones came with the first generation iPod. They were revised to be smaller after Apple received complaints of the earbuds being too large. The revised earphones were shipped with second through early fifth generation iPods, the iPod Mini, and the first generation Nanos. The earbuds were revised again in 2006, featuring an even smaller and more streamlined design. This third design was shipped with late fifth generation iPods and the second-generation nanos. All first generation iPod Shuffles and the second generation up until 30 January 2007 (when color models were introduced) were shipped with the second design; those that shipped after that date were distributed with the third design of the earbuds. The fourth generation Nano, the second generation Touch and the 120 GB iPod Classic come with headphones made from a slightly different material, which makes it anti-tangle, but more prone to damage,[26] leading some users with issues, such as volume imbalance.[citation needed] The third generation iPod Shuffle came with headphones with the controls on the right ear.

In 2005, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority placed advertisements on the subways warning passengers that "Earphones are a giveaway. Protect your device",[27] after iPod thefts on the subway rose from zero in 2004 to 50 in the first three months of 2005.[28]

BMW released the first iPod automobile interface,[29] allowing drivers of newer BMW vehicles to control an iPod using either the built-in steering wheel controls or the radio head-unit buttons. Apple announced in 2005 that similar systems would be available for other vehicle brands, including Mercedes-Benz,[30] Volvo,[31] Nissan, Toyota,[32] Alfa Romeo, Ferrari,[33] Acura, Audi, Honda,[34] Renault, Infiniti[35] and Volkswagen.[36] Scion offers standard iPod connectivity on all their cars.

Some independent stereo manufacturers including JVC, Pioneer, Kenwood, Alpine, Sony, and Harman Kardon also have iPod-specific integration solutions. Alternative connection methods include adaptor kits (that use the cassette deck or the CD changer port), audio input jacks, and FM transmitters such as the iTrip—although personal FM transmitters are illegal in some countries. Many car manufacturers have added audio input jacks as standard.[37]

Beginning in mid-2007, four major airlines, United, Continental, Delta, and Emirates reached agreements to install iPod seat connections. The free service will allow passengers to power and charge an iPod, and view video and music libraries on individual seat-back displays.[38] Originally KLM and Air France were reported to be part of the deal with Apple, but they later released statements explaining that they were only contemplating the possibility of incorporating such systems.[39]

[edit] Audio performance

The third generation iPod had a weak bass response, as shown in audio tests.[40][41] The combination of the undersized DC-blocking capacitors and the typical low-impedance of most consumer headphones form a high-pass filter, which attenuates the low-frequency bass output. Similar capacitors were used in the fourth generation iPods.[42] The problem is reduced when using high-impedance headphones and is completely masked when driving high-impedance (line level) loads, such as an external headphone amplifier. The first generation iPod Shuffle uses a dual-transistor output stage,[40] rather than a single capacitor-coupled output, and does not exhibit reduced bass response for any load.

From the 5th generation iPod on, Apple introduced a user-configurable volume limit in response to concerns about hearing loss.[43] Users report that in the 6th generation iPod, the maximum volume output level is limited to 100dB in EU markets. Apple previously had to remove iPods from shelves in France.[44]

[edit] Models

Model Generation Image Capacity Connection Original release date Minimum OS to sync Rated battery life (hours)
Classic first first generation iPod 5, 10 GB FireWire 23 October 2001 Mac: 910.1 audio: 10
First model, with mechanical scroll wheel. 10 GB model released later.
second A second generation iPod (2002) 10, 20 GB FireWire 17 July 2002 Mac: 10.1
Win: 2000
audio: 10
Touch-sensitive wheel. FireWire port had a cover. Hold switch revised. Windows compatibility through Musicmatch.
third third generation iPod 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 GB FireWire (USB for syncing only) 28 April 2003 Mac: 10.1
Win: 2000
audio: 8
First complete redesign with all-touch interface, dock connector, and slimmer case. Musicmatch support dropped with later release of iTunes 4.1 for Windows.
fourth generation iPod 20, 40 GB FireWire or USB 19 July 2004 Mac: 10.2
Win: 2000
audio: 12
Adopted Click Wheel from iPod Mini, hold switch redesigned.
fourth generation iPod with color display photo:
30, 40, 60 GB
FireWire or USB 26 October 2004 Mac: 10.2
Win: 2000
audio: 15
slideshow: 5
20, 60 GB
28 June 2005
Premium spin-off of 4G iPod with color screen and picture viewing. Later re-integrated into main iPod line.
fifth fifth generation iPod 30, 60, 80 GB USB (FireWire for charging only) 12 October 2005 Mac: 10.3
Win: 2000
30 GB
audio: 14
video: 2
(later 3.5)
60/80 GB
audio: 20
video: 3/6.5
Second full redesign with a slimmer case, and larger screen with video playback. Offered in black or white. Hardware and firmware updated with 60 GB model replaced with 80 GB model on 12 September 2006.
sixth  This content has an uncertain copyright status and is pending deletion. You can comment on its removal. 80, 120, 160 GB USB (FireWire for charging only) 5 September 2007 Mac: 10.4
Win: XP
80 GB
audio: 30
video: 5
120 GB
audio: 36
video: 6
160 GB
audio: 40
video: 7
Introduced the "Classic" suffix. New interface and anodized aluminum front plate. Silver replaces white. In September 2008 the hardware and firmware was updated with a 120 GB model replacing the 80 GB model. The 160 GB model was discontinued.
Mini first first generation iPod Mini 4 GB USB or FireWire 6 January 2004 Mac: 10.1
Win: 2000
audio: 8
New smaller model, available in 5 colors. Introduced the "Click Wheel".
second second generation iPod Mini 4, 6 GB USB or FireWire 22 February 2005 Mac: 10.2
Win: 2000
audio: 18
Brighter color variants with longer battery life. Click Wheel lettering matched body color. Gold color discontinued. Later replaced by iPod Nano.
Nano first first generation iPod Nano 1, 2, 4 GB USB (FireWire for charging only) 7 September 2005 Mac: 10.3
Win: 2000
audio: 14
slideshow: 4
Replaced Mini. Available in black or white and used flash memory. Color screen for picture viewing. 1 GB version released later.
second 4 GB blue iPod Nano 2, 4, 8 GB USB (FireWire for charging only) 12 September 2006 Mac: 10.3
Win: 2000
audio: 24
slideshow: 5
Anodized aluminum casing and 6 colors available.
third 4 GB third generation iPod Nano 4, 8 GB USB (FireWire for charging only) 5 September 2007 Mac: 10.4
Win: XP
audio: 24
video: 5
2" QVGA screen, colors refreshed with chrome back, new interface, video capability, smaller Click Wheel.
fourth 16 GB Flash Drive fourth generation iPod Nano 4, 8, 16 GB USB 9 September 2008 Mac: 10.4
Win: XP
audio: 24
video: 4
Revert to tall form and all-aluminum enclosure with 9 color choices, added accelerometer for shake and horizontal viewing. 4 GB model limited release in select markets.
shuffle first first generation iPod shuffle 512 MB, 1 GB USB
(no adaptor required)
11 January 2005 Mac: 10.2
Win: 2000
audio: 12
New entry-level model. Uses flash memory and has no screen.
second second generation iPod shuffle 1, 2 GB USB 12 September 2006 Mac: 10.3
Win: 2000
audio: 12
Smaller clip design with anodized aluminum casing. 4 color options added later. Colors were later refreshed twice.
third third generation iPod shuffle 4 GB USB 11 March 2009 Mac: 10.4
Win: XP
audio: 10
Smaller design with controls relocated to right earbud cable. Two colors, and features VoiceOver.
Touch first 8, 16, 32 GB USB (FireWire for charging only)[citation needed] 5 September 2007 Mac: 10.4
Win: XP
audio: 22
video: 5
First iPod with Wi-Fi and a Multi-Touch interface. Features Safari browser and wireless access to the iTunes Store and YouTube. 32 GB model later added. iPhone OS 2.0 and App Store access requires an upgrade fee.
second iPod Touch 8, 16, 32 GB USB 9 September 2008 Mac: 10.4
Win: XP
audio: 36
video: 6
New tapered chrome back with Nike+ functionality, volume buttons, and built-in speaker added. iPhone OS 2.0 and App Store access standard.

Timeline of iPod models

Sources: Apple press release library,[47] Mactracker[48]

[edit] Patent disputes

In 2005, Apple faced two lawsuits claiming patent infringement by the iPod line and its associated technologies:[49] Advanced Audio Devices claimed the iPod line breached its patent on a "music jukebox",[50] while a Hong Kong-based IP portfolio company called Pat-rights filed a suit claiming that Apple's FairPlay technology breached a patent[51] issued to inventor Ho Keung Tse. The latter case also includes the online music stores of Sony, RealNetworks, Napster, and Musicmatch as defendants.[52]

Apple's application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a patent on "rotational user inputs",[53] as used on the iPod interface, received a third "non-final rejection" (NFR) in August 2005. Also in August 2005, Creative Technology, one of Apple's main rivals in the MP3 player market, announced that it held a patent[54] on part of the music selection interface used by the iPod line, which Creative dubbed the "Zen Patent", granted on 9 August 2005.[55] On 15 May 2006, Creative filed another suit against Apple with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Creative also asked the United States International Trade Commission to investigate whether Apple was breaching U.S. trade laws by importing iPods into the United States.[56]

On 24 August 2006, Apple and Creative announced a broad settlement to end their legal disputes. Apple will pay Creative US$100 million for a paid-up license, to use Creative's awarded patent in all Apple products. As part of the agreement, Apple will recoup part of its payment, if Creative is successful in licensing the patent. Creative then announced its intention to produce iPod accessories by joining the Made for iPod program.[57]

[edit] Sales

iPod quarterly sales. Click for table of data and sources. Note that Q1 is October through December of previous year, the holiday season.

Since October 2004, the iPod line has dominated digital music player sales in the United States, with over 90% of the market for hard drive-based players and over 70% of the market for all types of players.[58] During the year from January 2004 to January 2005, the high rate of sales caused its U.S. market share to increase from 31% to 65% and in July 2005, this market share was measured at 74%. In January 2007 the iPod market share reached 72.7% according to Bloomberg Online.

The release of the iPod Mini helped to ensure this success at a time when competing flash-based music players were once dominant.[59] On 8 January 2004, Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced that they would sell HP-branded iPods under a license agreement from Apple. Several new retail channels were used—including Wal-Mart—and these iPods eventually made up 5% of all iPod sales. In July 2005, HP stopped selling iPods due to unfavorable terms and conditions imposed by Apple.[60]

In January 2007, Apple reported record quarterly revenue of US$7.1 billion, of which 48% was made from iPod sales.[61]

On 9 April 2007, it was announced that Apple had sold its one-hundred millionth iPod, making it the biggest selling digital music player of all time. In April 2007, Apple reported second quarter revenue of US$5.2 billion, of which 32% was made from iPod sales.[62] Apple and several industry analysts suggest that iPod users are likely to purchase other Apple products such as Mac computers.[63]

On 5 September 2007, during their "The Beat Goes On" event, Apple announced that the iPod line had surpassed 110 million units sold.

On 22 October 2007, Apple reported quarterly revenue of US$6.22 billion, of which 30.69% came from Apple notebook sales, 19.22% from desktop sales and 26% from iPod sales. Apple's 2007 year revenue increased to US$24.01 billion with US$3.5 billion in profits. Apple ended the fiscal year 2007 with US$15.4 billion in cash and no debt.[64]

On 22 January 2008, Apple reported the best quarter revenue and earnings in Apple's history so far. Apple posted record revenue of US$9.6 billion and record net quarterly profit of US$1.58 billion. 42% of Apple's revenue for the First fiscal quarter of 2008 came from iPod sales, followed by 21% from notebook sales and 16% from desktop sales.[65] Apple has sold over 163 million iPods to date (see chart).

On 21 October 2008, Apple reported that only 14.21% of total revenue for fiscal quarter 4 of year 2008 came from iPods.[66]

[edit] Industry impact

iPods have won several awards ranging from engineering excellence,[67] to most innovative audio product,[68] to fourth best computer product of 2006.[69] iPods often receive favorable reviews; scoring on looks, clean design, and ease of use. PC World says that iPod line has "altered the landscape for portable audio players".[68] Several industries are modifying their products to work better with both the iPod line and the AAC audio format. Examples include CD copy-protection schemes,[70] and mobile phones, such as phones from Sony Ericsson and Nokia, which play AAC files rather than WMA.

In addition to its reputation as a respected entertainment device, iPods have also become accepted as business devices. Government departments, major institutions and international organisations have turned to the iPod line as a delivery mechanism for business communication and training, such as the Royal and Western Infirmaries in Glasgow, Scotland where iPods are used to train new staff.[71]

iPods have also gained popularity for use in education. Apple offers more information on educational uses for iPods on their website,[72] including a collection of lesson plans.[73] There has also been academic research done in this area in nursing education[74] and more general K-16 education.[75] Duke University provided iPods to all incoming freshmen in the fall of 2004, and the iPod program continues today with modifications.[76]

[edit] Criticism

[edit] Battery issues

The advertised battery life on most models is different from the real-world achievable life. For example, the fifth generation 30 GB iPod is advertised as having up to 14 hours of music playback. An MP3.com report stated that this was virtually unachievable under real-life usage conditions, with a writer for MP3.com getting on average less than 8 hours from an iPod.[77] In 2003, class action lawsuits were brought against Apple complaining that the battery charges lasted for shorter lengths of time than stated and that the battery degraded over time.[78] The lawsuits were settled by offering individuals either US$50 store credit or a free battery replacement.[79]

iPod batteries are not designed to be removed or replaced by the user, although some users have been able to open the case themselves, usually following instructions from third-party vendors of iPod replacement batteries. Compounding the problem, Apple initially would not replace worn-out batteries. The official policy was that the customer should buy a refurbished replacement iPod, at a cost almost equivalent to a brand new one. All lithium-ion batteries eventually lose capacity during their lifetime[80] (guidelines are available for prolonging life-span) and this situation led to a market for third-party battery replacement kits.

Apple announced a battery replacement program on 14 November 2003, a week before[81] a high publicity stunt and website by the Neistat Brothers.[82] The initial cost was US$99,[83] and it was lowered to US$59 in 2005. One week later, Apple offered an extended iPod warranty for US$59.[84] For the iPod Nano, soldering tools are needed because the battery is soldered onto the main board. Fifth generation iPods have their battery attached to the backplate with adhesive.[85][86]

[edit] Reliability and durability

iPods have been criticized for their short life-span and fragile hard drives. A 2005 survey conducted on the MacInTouch website found that the iPod line had an average failure rate of 13.7% (although they note that comments from respondants indicate that "the true iPod failure rate may be lower than it appears"). It concluded that some models were more durable than others.[87] In particular, failure rates for iPods employing hard drives was usually above 20% while those with flash memory had a failure rate below 10%, indicating poor hard drive durability. In late 2005, many users complained that the surface of the first generation iPod Nano can become scratched easily, rendering the screen unusable.[88][89] A class action lawsuit was also filed.[90] Apple initially considered the issue a minor defect, but later began shipping these iPods with protective sleeves.

[edit] Allegations of worker exploitation

On 11 June 2006, the British newspaper Mail on Sunday reported that iPods are mainly manufactured by workers who earn no more than US$50 per month and work 15-hour shifts.[91] Apple investigated the case with independent auditors and found that, while some of the plant's labour practices met Apple's Code of Conduct, others did not: Employees worked over 60 hours a week for 35% of the time, and worked more than six consecutive days for 25% of the time.[92]

Foxconn, Apple's manufacturer, initially denied the abuses,[93] but when an auditing team from Apple found that workers had been working longer hours than were allowed under Chinese law, they promised to prevent workers working more hours than the code allowed. Apple hired a workplace standards auditing company, Verité, and joined the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct Implementation Group to oversee the measures. On 31 December 2006, workers at the Longhua, Shenzhen factory (owned by Foxconn) formed a union. The union is affiliated with the world's largest and most powerful federation of trade unions, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.[94]

[edit] Social isolation

Tara Brabazon, professor of media studies at the University of Brighton, is concerned that iPods may cause social isolation.[95] A school in Sydney, Australia banned MP3 players to encourage students to communicate with others.[96]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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