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History of the iPod Mini

In 2004, Apple sold 4.4 million iPods.

In 2005, that number ballooned to 22.5 million. In just a year’s time, the future of the company was changed.

While early iPod models — sold only in white — are the most iconic edition of the product line, it’s the iPod Mini that moved iPods into the mass market. And while the iPod Mini changed the future of technology, perhaps the most intriguing part of its history is that it became the shortest-lived iPod product! In little more than a year, Steve Jobs would abandon the iPod Mini to pursue a replacement product line named the iPod Nano.

Why was the iPod Mini such a transformative product and why did Apple so quickly abandon it? Read to discover more about this intriguing product!

The introduction of the iPod Mini

Heading into 2004, Apple had a single product line for the iPod; the iconic white iPods that would later become part of its iPod Classic lineup. So, while the iPod was becoming a breakout hit, it was still expensive relative to rival MP3 players that often had less storage, but were also much cheaper.

To respond to these challenges, in 2004 and early 2005, Steve Jobs expanded the iPod into a low, mid, and high-end range. The first announcement on this front was the iPod Mini, a product first announced on January 6, 2004.

The iPod Mini was distinguished by a mid-price-point while in 2005 the iPod Shuffle would address the low-end of the market.

The 1st Generation iPod Mini

Announcing the iPod mini on January 6 2004, Apple’s press release boasted:

“iPod mini is encased in an ultra-portable, lightweight anodized aluminum body available in five stylish colors—silver, gold, pink, blue or green—and features a patent pending, touch-sensitive Click Wheel for easy, one-handed navigation.”

Apple’s press photo for the iPod mini

The first generation iPod Mini was distinguished by three main features.

  • First, it was available in five colors and featured an aluminum casing, which gave the iPod lineup a significantly different look.
  • Second, the product was the first to feature the iPods’s Click Wheel. In the third-generation iPod buttons like play, next track, and back were individual buttons above the Click Wheel.
  • Finally, the iPod Mini had a starting MSRP of $249, which was lower than the $299 starting price tag new iPods had previously been priced at.

The trade-off for the cheaper price? The iPod Mini started with just 4GB of storage.

2nd Generation iPod Mini

In February 2005, Apple announced the second generation iPod Mini. The product once again came in multiple colors — albeit four colors instead of five — and the product’s price dropped.

The 2nd Generation iPod mini sold for $199 for 4GB of storage and $249 for 6GB of storage. In addition, the 2nd generation iPod Mini’s battery life jumped more than 100% and now lasted up to 18 hours.

The iPod Mini is Discontinued

While the iPod Mini was extremely popular, it was also the most short-lived iPod product line.

On September 7, 2005, Steve Jobs announced the iPod Nano, which became a replacement for the iPod Mini. The decision to kill off a product as popular as the iPod mini was controversial, but would prove prescient as its replacement introduced features like flash storage (rather than hard disk drive) that would prove enduring. While the iPod Mini was produced for just 1.5 years, the Nano would be in production until 2017, when it was officially discontinued.

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