Wired has a nice piece about the seventh anniversary of the iPod launch. At the time, it looked nice but not at all game-changing, which of course turned out to be an illusion.
“Despite some conspicuous flaws—a wonky scroll wheel, no Windows compatibility, short battery life and a whopping $400 price tag—this innocuous-looking device was indeed a game-changer.”
Sales eventually took off in earnest, but it took a while; for example, it took Apple until 2004 to sell one million iPods. But as Apple leveraged its success everywhere, from speaker docks to the iTunes Store to the iPhone, there was no turning back.
“Mainly, the iPod allowed Apple to blow up the industry’s CD-based business model, by making the downloading of singles both cheap and easy. Among other things, there was grumbling from music execs over the fact that people were able to rip their previously purchased CDs into their iTunes libraries without having to pay extra for the privilege.”