Friday, Jan. 23, 2009

iPod Mania

"Hint: It's not a Mac," Apple teased in a special October 2001 invite for the debut of its latest product, the brilliantly named iPod. Even if you tried (and you likely didn't), you couldn't escape the mania that followed. Apple had released a number of gadgets in the past — eMate, Pippin and Macintosh TV, to name a few — all to indifferent sales. But the iPod was in a category all its own. The $399 portable music player, with its innovativeinterface, impressive storage capacity and lightning-quick download capability (thank you, FireWire), quickly became one of its top-selling products. "You can fit your whole music library in your pocket," Jobs liked to say.

Apple's timing — and its ingenious advertising — couldn't have been more perfect either. The commercials showcased the latest, hippest tunes to a demographic that was still reeling from the July '01 fall of Napster, the free music-sharing giant that launched the age of digital ditties. As for the commercials, they became so popular that the young's turned the iconic black silhouette and white ear buds into a DIY Halloween costume. Since its debut, more than 350 million iPods have been sold around the world. Even so, Apple's decision to drop the word "Computer" from its official corporate name in 2007 wasnt met with universal praise. As one software developer put it, "Steve, do you want to sell colored plastic all your life or do you want to change the world?"

See 25 must-have travel gadgets.