That was the time when Apple was almost forgotten except in USA and in few European countries. Apple’s share now hovers around 150$ but back in early 2000s, the share price was less then 2$. Apple was on the verge of dying in 1997 when Steve Jobs took over and started the company on a new path. In 2001, Apple released the first iPod (Classic) with the slogan “1,000 songs in your pocket”. After five generations of iPods that turned out to be massive hit and destroyed CD based players, Apple decided to srink the iPod. The result was iPod Mini. Though the iPod Mini was smaller, it still had a hard drive and was bulky. Then came the mega surprise. First iPod with built-in flash memory was announced in 2005. This announcement propelled the market of mp3 players and Apple never looked back.
iPod nano first generation
The announcement of iPod Nano On September 7, 2005 was one of the best from Steve Jobs, asking everyone why the small watch pocket in the jeans is for and then pulling a crazy thin iPod Nano. The first gen iPod Nano was just 6.9mm thin and weighed just 42 grams.
The first iPod Nano was available in 1GB or 2GB or 4GB sizes and had a tiny 1.5” color display. The iPod Nano can play music for up to 14 hours. Available in black and white colors, the iPod Nano turned out to be a massive hit across the globe. This was my first Apple product and the feeling was great. Before the iPod Nano, I used to carry an Aiwa mp3 CD player along with lot of CDs and with iPod Nano, I only had to carry a tiny player in my jeans pocket. Charing was through USB based proprietary port. The only downside (as with all iPods and iPhones) is that it will only sync with iTunes (Windows or Mac) and there was no support for Linux. Another problem was the mirror finish metal back plate that would get scratches in no time.
iPod Nano Second generation
The second generation Nano, announced on September 25th 2006, came with colorful anodized aluminum body that was scratch resistant and the size was doubles. This one came in 2, 4, and 8 GB models. The iPod Nano continued to have the click wheel from iPod. The second generation iPod Nano had 40% brighter display and the battery would last for 24 hours. There was a new search function, gapless playback was introduced. A special edition Product Red iPod Nano was released in October 2006 where for each iPod sold, Apple would donate 10$ to Product Red initiative.
The second generation was also lighter (40 grams) and thinner than the first generation model. The size of display remained same. Similar to first generation iPod Nano, this one also required iTunes to sync and would work with Windows and Mac OS X.
iPod Nano Third Generation
September 5, 2007
The third generation iPod Nano had a major design change and it looked more like a smaller iPod, thanks to body that is wider. The display size was increased to 2” and had 320×240 pixel resolution. For the first time ever, the iPod Nano broke ‘music only’ restriction and was able to play videos. And the new Nano supported games. The battery continue to support 24 hour audio playback. The 3rd generation iPod Nano supported the famous ‘Cover Flow’ feature. Nano was available in 4GB and 8GB version and in various color options. Body was made out of aluminum front plate and steel back (front from previous generation nano and back from iPod Classic). The 3rd generation Nano was slightly heavier compared to previous generation Nano and maintained super thin profile.
iPod Nano Fourth Generation
The fourth generation iPod Nano went back to narrow form factor without reducing the display size. To watch videos, one should hold the Nano in landscape mode. This generation Nano was truly colorful, thanks to 9 different colors. At 6.1mm thickness, the 4th generation Nano was crazy thin. Onboard RAM was doubled, onboard storage was either 8GB or 16GB. Battery life remained at (up to ) 24 hours for audio playback. Good thing is that the full aluminum body (uniform color front and back) returned. Built in accelerometer meant that users could use gestures to control music. New user interface was introducing with 4th generation Nano. The new UI looked better, thanks to better h/w, was faster too. 4th Ten Nano supported voice recording but supported mic was required. One of the best features was environment friendly design, thanks to arsenic free glass, BFR/mercury/PVC free design.
iPod Nano Fifth Generation
September 13, 2009
The fifth generation continued on fourth generation design language. The display was bigger (2.22”) and had better resolution. This one weighed just 36.3 grams and continued to have aluminum design. One major design changes is the addition of video camera, FM Radio. There was a built in pedometer, support for Nike+iPod support and this helped fitness enthusiasts a lot. The combination of fitness features and built in radio meant that one could go out for a run without needing a music library. This was the best looking iPod Nano (even when you compare this with future generation nanos). The large display and the clicked wheel looked like they were born to be together. The glossy and shiny finish gave premium look to the iPod Nano.
iPod Nano Sixth Generation
September 1, 2010
This was more like a iPod Shuffle with display. The sixth generation iPod Nano was combination of iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano. The 1.55” display was too tiny, there was no video playback, no video recording. By this time, interest in iPod Nano was slowing down as iPod Touch and iPhone were killing the iPod Classic and iPod Nano lineups. Till 2009 September, Apple had sold 220 million iPods (since Dec’2001) of which 110 million were sold between September 2007 and September 2009. Then from 2010 till 2014, apple could only manage 150 million odd units. Since 2014, Apple could barely sell any iPods resulting slow and steady killing of iPod lineups. And the tiny iPod Nano made the slide faster.
The tiny display was a nightmare to use and the functionality was severely limited. The battery is still rated at 24 hours for audio playback. It took 3 hours to charge it fully. The clip on the back can be used to hook it to a sleeve/shirt. The saving grace is that Nike+iPod fitness function and FM radio continued to exist. The pedometer function was also improved. There were lot of clock faces and it looked like this was the starting point of Apple Watch interface. There were some accessories that let the 6th gen Nano attached to the wrist like a watch.
iPod Nano Seventh Generation
October 12, 2012
The last iPod Nano. Apple went back to big display design with iPod nano but the design itself was ugly and looked more like ugly sibling of iPod shuffle. The final generation iPod nano came with iphonesque design. The display was 2.5” in size and users could now use Bluetooth for audio playback. Other feature include FM Radio, 16GB onboard storage, 31 grams weight, 5.4mm thickness, pedometer and Nike+iPod fitness function. By this time, public interest in Nano was almost gone as more and more were okay with sticking to iPhone and Android phones for music/movie playback. With streaming services on the rise, one didn’t need a dedicated music player to listen to music.