CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

MP3 Players

Why the iPod is the Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century

It may be difficult to remember exactly what life was like before Apple launched the first iPod back in 2001, but one's thing for certain: it wasn't as good. Let Charles Kloet tell you why.

It may be difficult to remember exactly what life was like before Apple launched the first iPod back in 2001, but one's thing for certain: it wasn't as good. Here's why I think the iPod is the Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century.

Try and cast your mind back to the beginning of the decade. If you wanted to hear music on the move, you'd be more or less limited to stuffing an ungainly CD player in your coat pocket and listening to one or two discs until you were on the brink of total insanity. Then the MP3 player came along and enabled you to slap a huge chunk of your music library -- or even the whole thing -- on a device that could slip into the pocket of your slender breeches. Finally you could keep boredom at bay wherever you were and whatever you were doing.

The iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, but it made owning digital music much simpler, thanks to iTunes. You no longer needed to devote a corner of your abode to hosting a towering mass of CDs, since you could just burn them all on to your computer instead. The discovery of new musical horizons and subsequent track purchases were also only ever a click or two away in the iTunes Store -- there was no longer any need to pop down to your local music emporium and sample CDs on the shop's leprosy-riddled earphones. In short, the iPod kickstarted the digital-music revolution. Only a certified chump would argue otherwise.

But the iPod's influence hasn't just been limited to the digital-music market. If the iPod hadn't enjoyed the success it deserved, Apple would never have decided to add a microphone, antenna and Web access to its music player and rename it the iPhone -- and we all know how influential that glorified iPod has been. Any smart phone worth its silicon owes a sizeable debt to the iPod.

The iPod's success and influence aren't just down to its portability and simplicity, though. It's also one of the best-looking music players around, with the classic iPod design nothing short of iconic. And the more features Apple adds -- video-playback capability and access to the App Store, for example -- the better the iPod gets.

The iPod has been ubiquitous for so long it's easy to take it for granted. But remember it freed mankind from the shackles of bulky music players, revolutionised the music industry, and gave everyone a way of ignoring each other on the train. I reckon any one of those reasons alone should be sufficient for it to win the title of Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century.