The iPhone did not just appear fully formed from thin air. Quite apart the development work that went into its creation, it comes at the end of a long line of related consumer products from both Apple and other hardware manufacturers. The most obvious relative is the iPod, which first appeared as a chunky hard drive-based music player in 2001. Contrary to popular belief, it was not an immediate success.
Initially only available for the Mac, its bulk and weight were not fully compensated by the underwhelming storage capacity, and it was bundled with iTunes 1, which was fairly primitive. It could not even say how many times that you had played a certain track. Nonetheless, things should be put into context. These were early days for MP3 players; the market was young, with competitor products boasting equally meagre specifications. The iPod only realy took off when it was spotted in the hands of celebrities in the gossip press. People suddenly started taking note of those distinctive white earphones and the iPod’s fortunes — and those of its parent company — were changed forever.
There have now been seven generations of full-sized iPod, incorporating first colour displays then video playback features. These have been accompanied by four generations of iPod nano, the latest of which now also play and shoot video, and three different iPod shuffle designs, the latest of which is barely any larger than a stick of gum and comes in a range of colours. The full-sized iPod is now called the classic, and it has lost its spot at the top of the range to the Apple iPod touch, which appeared shordy after the iPhon’s first US appearance.
The iTouch is smuch slimmer than the Apple iPhone and is missing some of its features. That the iPod was an important predecessor of the iPhone is obvious from the importance of similar features in the iPhone itself, not to mention the fact that Steve Jobs calls it the best iPod Apple has ever made.