The release of the first iPod in October of 2001 was a huge milestone for Apple, and for quite a few people (especially a younger crowd) with the company on their radar. This tiny device— although the old models seem huge to us now — could hold thousands of songs, fit in your pocket, and be with you everywhere. Earlier that year, Apple had released iTunes, and now with an iPod at your disposal, you could manage your entire music library and have it with you at all times. While the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player to hit the market, there's no question it was the most popular for a long time after its launch, so much so, that the word iPod became synonymous with the term MP3 player.
Apple advertised the heck out of iPod, and a lot of those commercials had iconic songs that were either already popular or became popular because they were used in the commercial. Since I recently took a look back at all the awesome iPad commercials we've seen in the past decade, I decided to open the "musical time capsule" and take a look back at some of the most memorable iPod commercials over the years.
The first iPod (iPod Classic 1st generation)
To this day, I still find this commercial is brilliant. It's simple and the messaging is so straight forward. The ad featuring the song Take California by Propellerheads features a man dancing around his home as he listened and organized his music in iTunes on his Mac. The man then puts earbuds in his ears and leaves the computer to dance more and walk out the door. The ad ends with the simple words "iPod; a thousand songs in your pocket"
iPod Classic (3rd and 4th generation)
The famous iPod silhouette commercials are probably the ones that most people remember from the early 2000s, and Apple made a handful of them. All the commercials had the same premise, dark silhouettes dancing in front of brightly colored backgrounds, with the bright white iPod silhouettes in clear view.
There were quite a few of these ads, I won't list them all here, but in 2003, the iTunes store launched meaning the ads were now also selling the music as much as the music player. This was made super evident in 2004, the Apple brought in legendary rock group U2 to promote the iPod along with the band's newest single Vertigo.
iPod Shuffle (1st Generation)
In 2005, Apple launched the first iPod Shuffle. This iPod was much smaller, had no screen, only went up to 1GB of storage, and was only $99 at launch. Apple stuck with the same silhouette style commercial for this iPod to the very catchy tune Jerk it Out by Caesers.
iPad Nano (1st Generation)
Replacing the short-lived iPod Mini, the iPod Nano was billed as everything the iPod Classic was just in a smaller package. Apple was still making general iPod commercials in the silhouette style at this point, but they did roll out a specific iPod Nano ad that introduced the product to the masses.
iPod Shuffle (2nd generation)
Sometimes called the "clip-on iPod", the second-generation iPod Shuffle featured a clip that could easily attach to your clothes. This tiny little rectangle was iconic for its time and the commercial heavily focused on the clip-on design.
iPad Nano (2nd generation)
The second-generation iPod Nano featured an anodized aluminum casing and was available in six (very bright) colors. The ad that introduced this product was very reminiscent of the silhouettes iPod commercials, only this time, the new colors were the center of attention.
iPad Classic (5th generation)
The fifth-generation iPod introduced the capability to play videos using the fully colored screen, and Apple again went with U2 to sell the product.
iPad Nano (3rd generation)
Given the nickname as "the fatty nano", the third-generation iPad Nano was the first iPod Nano to be able to play video. The song 1234 by Fiest was featured in the ad and just for the music alone, this ad stuck in people's minds for a long time.
iPod Touch (1st generation)
The first iPod Touch was launched on the heels of the iPhone and featured a lot of the same functionality. It had Wi-Fi and a multi-touch screen. The iPod Touch is the only iPod that's still around today and many of them mirrored changes that were seen in iPhone models over the years.
iPad Nano (5th generation)
The fifth-generation iPod Nano introduced a lot of firsts. It was the first iPod to include a video camera, and it came with a new polished look and rounded design.
iPad Nano (6th generation)
I've got a special place in my heart for the sixth-generation iPad Nano as it was the first one I bought. It was a neat mix of the small clip-on design that was popularized by the iPod Shuffle line and the multi-touch screen from the iPod Nano line. Plus, the ad used the track Short Skirt / Long Jacket by Cake, which is a positive in my books.
iPod Touch (4th generation)
The fourth-generation iPod Touch featured both a front-facing and rear-facing camera, video recording, and a retina display. The commercial really highlighted just how much you could do with and iPod. It was like having a mini-tablet with all your music.
iPod Touch (5th generation), iPad Nano (7th generation), and iPod Shuffle (4th generation)
This was the last version of the iPad Nano and iPod Shuffle and with iPod now being so synonymous with the company, the poppy and bouncy ad that featured the entire iPod lineup in all the cool colors that all three models now had.
A musical time capsule
Going through these ads has reminded me of just how much Apple influenced my music tastes. The songs that were used in plenty of iPod commercials were either already hits or became hits. Apple Music has a playlist (which they update every so often) with over 100 songs that were featured in Apple ads over the years. It's a great way to remember some of those amazing songs in iPod ads and other product ads, make sure you give it a listen!
- Get the Apple Music playlist (opens in new tab)
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.
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