On this day, five years ago, Apple killed off its smallest iPods – the iPod shuffle and the iPod nano. This would leave only the iPod touch as the last iPod standing before its recent discontinuation in 2022. Both of the tiniest music players still hold a place in my heart, so let’s take a trip down memory lane on the history of the iPod shuffle and nano.
The iPod shuffle was originally introduced on January 11, 2005. The first generation was about the size of a pack of gum. It was the first Apple device ever to feature dedicated flash storage, which would eventually replace the hard drive for file storage across the entire product lineup, including Macs. Originally starting at $99, the iPod shuffle was Apple’s most affordable model in the iPod lineup.
The second generation was introduced on September 12, 2006, and it was even smaller and included a built-in clip for instant wearability. It featured additional colors a few months later, and the color palette changed every year. The third generation was introduced on March 11, 2009, and it was undeniably the worst iPod shuffle ever made. Aside from the introduction of VoiceOver, this shuffle did away with the built-in buttons. Therefore, you would have to use the remote on the included headphones, which wouldn’t be convenient if you lost them. On September 1, 2010, Apple went back to the drawing board and brought back the buttons. Aside from the updates to the color options, no hardware improvements were made to this device since then.
Now, let’s focus on the iPod nano, which was introduced on September 7, 2005. When Steve Jobs pulled the first generation iPod nano out of his watch pocket, people were instantly amazed at how small the iPod nano was. Yet it still held up to 1,000 songs in your pocket as the original iPod did. It immediately replaced the iPod mini, which was already smaller than the full-size iPod.
The second generation, introduced on September 12, 2006, introduced a design similar to the iPod mini and brought back fun colors. The third generation, introduced on September 5, 2007, brought a new design with a larger display for you to watch videos. The fourth generation, introduced on September 9, 2008, reverted to the tall form factor with a portrait display and rainbow-themed colors. The fifth generation, introduced on September 9, 2009, added a video camera even before the iPod touch did.
The sixth generation, introduced on September 1, 2010, marked the beginning of a new era for the iPod nano. For one, it got rid of the iconic click wheel in place of the multi-touch display. Because it was so small, Apple was able to add a built-in clip. However, this generation did have several compromises as it did not support video playback and even a built-in camera of any sort.
The seventh and final generation, introduced on September 12, 2012, brought a new design that featured a larger display with a “quasi-iOS” multi-touch experience and the return of video playback. It was the only generation that featured the current Lightning connector and even Bluetooth connectivity, so you could connect the player with your AirPods if you like.
With both of these players discontinued on July 27, 2017, it was easy to see why Apple no longer needed to sell those devices. Smartphones and streaming services are dominating the market when it comes to how we listen to music these days. Nevertheless, both of these iPods would still have an impact on those who were deep into the Apple ecosystem back then.
Did you remember the first time you held an iPod shuffle or nano? Have you ever owned one? Feel free to tell us about your first iPod experience either in the comments or on Twitter at @appleosophy. Make sure you follow there on Twitter, so you’ll get the latest news/stories when they come out.