Published by Aditya Agarwal on and last updated on

How Apple Developed the iPod under Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs had a keen desire to create portable consumer devices that had end to end control in hands of Apple. After doing the magic with iMac for year of 1998, he was working on its updated version

Apple had created a wonderful technology of FireWire, that could be used to transfer data, at unbelievable speeds. He believed that this technology of Apple from early 1990s had a lot of potential.

Steve Jobs, wanted the 1999, iMac to have Fire Wire for showing off its potential. He also wanted the CD disk system to be improved, with newer slots for CDS.

Apple had a keen interest in creativity, and that was visible in there employees also. Apple wanted to create great software fir artists and creative people. One of the steps in there goal was facilitatating video editing.

Apple with help of Fire wire wanted to allow camcorders to transfer there video footage to iMac and then edit it, by clipping them, adding music effects etc. so that they can produce professional looking videos without spending much

They in order to support creators wanted to tie up with Adobe to create version of there own software for Apple. But Adobe refused. So Apple started making there own software, like Final Cut Pro, and iMovie etc.

At thar time Final Cut was a product of Macromedia, and available to Windows. Apple went to buy it because of the refusal. Steve Jobs put his magic in it, including the QuickTime. This resulted in a great video editing software, that till date is the best video editing software. 

Had Steve Jobs not persued to buy it, the software would have never existed today, the Final Cut was also struggling that time, and it took them a lot to convince themselved to sell Final Cut to Apple, which itself was in financial struggles.

Apple was not up for music software untill, the market erupted, the CD sales of songs started to erupt during that period, and for a lot of time Apple never tried to enter the music industry, but when they entered they changed it.

The erupting sale of music in form of CDs and portable music players coming in market made Steve Jobs realize, its potential and that technology can impact music industry also

He got a team ready to develop iTunes, the music software for Apple.

Bill Kincaid a former Apple employees along with 2 other Apple employees had been working over a software for managing music on Macs. It was called the SoundJam. Steve Jobs decided to buy the company and bring those guys to Apple, thus foing its team

He knew that the software on there competitors was crap, and they wanted to make great software not “Junk”.

The software was called iTunes in 2001, and saw good response. #Apple knew that even though they were good with the software, but they were still running late in there race of portable music players.

The #portable music players at that time had complicated software that was difficult to understand, less battery life and then ability to store really less songs.

Jobs wanted to make great portable #music player, that fixed all the boxes and still is small enough in size to fit in the pocket.

For this the mahor strain was size, a good battery that was small…, a good screen that was small…

Finding a battery and LCD screen of there need didn’t took much time, they could find it within few days, the trouble maker was storage disk.

The fortunate opportunity to get good disks was received from Toshiba in Japan. Rubenstein and Jobs were in Japan for some other works, when they got to know that Toshiba had developed new disks, thar were of size around 1.8 inch and could have storage of around 5 GB (around 1000 songs). There product was incredible, but Toshiba did not knew what they could utilize those hard diska for. Rubenstien talked about it with Steve Jobs, and asked for $10 Million, to solve the puzzle of iPod, Steve Jobs authorized it immediately. He made a agreement where they would exclusively get all the disks that Toshiba made.

Jobs wanted iPod to closely sync its its songs with Mac utilizing Fire Wire. Fire wire could sync a 1000 songs in few minutes. He also wanted that iPod be controled by iTunes on iMac, this will help them create great consumer experience, other applications were not as good as iTunes and led to bad consumer experience.

Steve Jobs took many demos of the design of iPod. There were prototypes, some showing memory card slots that was rejected. Other having dynamic RAM, that lost all its songs if it ran out of power, that Steve Jobs didn’t like.

Then came the 1.8 inch hard drive version that Steve Jobs liked. It was one of the rare instances where Steve was ready to take it up as it is, and was sattisfied with the version as shown to him, though Phil Schiller intervened. He came back with another version kf the product, one with a screen and a scroll wheel. He wanted to make the experience of scrolling through songs a better #experience, the rotating motion was more satisfying than clicking buttons multiple times. He also showed how it could speed up to move fast in list, when rotated for long time. It was approved.

One thing common in Apple culture was the no. of demos, options and the speed in decision making. Rather than presentations, they got things done on table to have a better feel.

Apple had this #culture of thinking variety of options and then trying each of it to find the perfect one, if they couldn’t find something perfect enough, they would go back to more research, and even after having perfect option, and finalising things, if dome new idea popped, they were quick to change. The decesion making process in Apple had really less approvals. A #product simply needed to be good. That’s it.

This could also be seen in the software they made. For iPod, #SteveJobs wanted that each action and function should be made done with in 3 steps and it should be simple enough that actions are intuitive. They spent days correcting and finding the correct combination for it. And that payed off really well.

In terms of design another contribution to iPod was from Jony Ive, he had a love for white color. He wanted #iPod to be white, and white should be the purest and cleanest and the brightest white, seemlessly attached to polished stainless steel back.

And purity of white went further on, even charging cable, power brick, headphones etc.

For the product launch they had decided to go up with this crazy tagline, “100 Songs in Your Pocket”

They also decided to go big with iPod in terms of marketing, far more than any other company, not only because there product was great, but also because, iPod would drive Mac sales and also create a brand of Apple was innovative company leading the market. They wanted the biggest share of music industry.

The product launch was nice and lovable, Steve Jobs was wearing black turtleneck with jeans. There was skepticism over its $399 price. Some called it outrageous, and media and blogging community did not receive it well, but great consumer response made those skeptics quite. This created Apple’s #brand image as a respectable tech brand, that worked for interesection of technology with #art, and #culture.



Aditya Agarwal
"The People Who Love The Journey, Are The Ones That Reach The Most Beautiful Destinations"

Aditya Agarwal

Aditya Agarwal

"The People Who Love The Journey, Are The Ones That Reach The Most Beautiful Destinations"

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