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Apple iPod sales surpass 100m

Fastest selling music player in history?

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Apple has sold 100m iPods, more the company tacitly claimed, than Sony's equally iconic Walkman personal cassette player had in the first five-and-a-half years it was on the market.

The shiny white music player was launched in a Mac-only, 5GB version in November 2001 - neither the first portable digital music device nor the first to contain a hard drive, but soon the dominant product in its class nonetheless.

"iPod has helped millions of people around the world rekindle their passion for music," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in the company's announcement, and that's the nub of the matter. The growth of the iTunes online content shop is all very well, but the iPod's success was really founded on people going back to their CD collections, ripping them and enjoying songs they probably hadn't listened to for years. All they needed was a good excuse to do so, and the increasingly capacious iPod line gave them that opportunity.

But let's not forget the advertising. Nothing comes of nothing, and without Apple shouting about its player on bus shelters, hoardings, occasionally on TV and elsewhere, it's hard to see the iPod reaching into the public consciousness the way it has done and certainly no rival device has. Apple may have bought its success, but it was the only music player company sufficiently savvy to do so. It certainly wasn't the only one that might have needed to.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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