What they said about the iPod: ‘Another one of Apple’s failures just like the Newton’

A sampling of some of the initial reaction to the iPod after its October 23, 2001 unveiling.

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Sure, the iPod has been a smash success for Apple, but you wouldn’t have guessed that in the days after its unveiling in 2001. While some saw the potential of the compact music player, others pointed to its high price tag as a reason the iPod would never take off.

Here’s a sampling of some of the initial reaction to the iPod, from executives, tech industry analysts, writers, and users.

“You’ve heard of plug-and-play. This is plug, unplug and play. It’s so simple to use, it’s unbelievable.”—Steve Jobs, Apple’s iPod press event

“The iPod is no bigger than a deck of cards, but I predict this new handheld digital-music player will stand tall. Very tall. It’s going to do for MP3 music what the original Palm Pilot did for handheld computing in the late ’90s—that is, ignite demand like a match to dry twigs.—Charles Haddad, BusinessWeek

One of the “Top Five Worst Tech Gifts” to get for Christmas in 2001.—TechTarget

“It’s certainly a high-end product, both in terms of price and in terms of capability… Short-term, I think they’re going to sell every one they build.”—Giga Information Group research fellow Rob Enderle, January 2002 issue of Macworld

“Clearly Apple is following Sony’s lead by integrating consumer electronics devices into its marketing strategy, but Apple lacks the richness of Sony’s product offering. And introducing new consumer products right now is risky, especially if they cannot be priced attractively.”—Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal, CNet

“The Apple iPod sounds like a dream come true—and for anyone with a love of music and a Mac that has a FireWire port, it is one. Although $399 places the iPod at the high end of the portable music player market, it buys you a stylish, high-capacity audio player with Mac connectivity that is second to none.”—Jonathan Seff, Macworld

“No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.”—CmdrTaco, Slashdot

“A big yawner, you say? Perhaps. After all, there are plenty of MP3 players out there. (Compaq Computer, for example, offers one for $149.99 on its website.) But while Apple’s latest debut might not score high on the significance meter—particularly according to Wall Street analysts hoping for a splashier announcement—it does offer a glimpse into the tactics computer makers are beginning to employ as demand for their core products wanes.”— Monica Rivituso, SmartMoney.com

“Sure, it looks to be a well implemented MP3 player but who cares? Apple loyals will swipe up a bunch of them but there really is little innovation to care about.”—Reader post, MacInTouch

“Having seen and held an iPod, all I can say is ‘Wow!’ I work for an Apple Specialist in Seattle and we had an iPod in the store Wednesday. I got my five minutes with it and i certainly didn’t want to put it down or give it back!”—Reader post, MacInTouch

“The iPod announcement wasn’t just a hyperbolic bit of diversionary competitive blocking. Instead, it’s a product that embodies Apple at its very best and testifies to the fact that, thank heavens, Apple is still around to spread its characteristic sense of style and pizzazz through a technology landscape that’s gotten, well, boring, XP’s arrival notwithstanding.—Patrick Houston, ZDNet

“I’d call it the Cube 2.0 as it won’t sell, and be killed off in a short time… and it’s not really functional.”—Forum poster, MacRumors.com

“Frankly, I didn’t know how I would react to Apple’s over-hyped MP3 player until I used one. Now I would have a hard time parting with it: Consider me converted.”—Paul Thurrott, SuperSite for Windows

“I think the iPod will be another one of Apple’s failures just like the Newton. It’s only for the Mac; not a lot of the MP3 world uses Macs, compared with PCs. It costs $400; you can get so many other players that work well for much less. Apple could have done more-innovative things with an MP3 player than just make it look cool and give it some fast features.”—Letter to the editor, April 2002 issue of Macworld

“In a nutshell, the iPod is a high quality product that works extremely well. It is overpriced for an MP3 player, but it is priced about right for the quality/construction of what you get. You simply can’t get this combination of ease of use, convenience, size/weight, battery life, music capacity and elegance anywhere else. I’m very pleased with it.”—Andrew Welch, Ambrosia Software

“If Apple ever lowers the iPod’s price and develops Windows software for it, watch out: the invasion of the iPod people will surely begin in earnest.”— David Pogue, New York Times

“This kicks every other product’s ass right here.”—Smash Mouth lead singer Steve Harwell, iPod promotional video

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