Music's iEvolution

A look back at Apple's music-related milestones under the leadership of Steve Jobs
  • Photo: Jon Furniss/
    Steve Jobs in 2007
  • Photo: Apple
    iPod (2001)
  • Photo: Apple
    iPod (2005)
  • Photo: Apple
    iPod shuffle (2006)
  • Photo: Apple
    iPad 2 (2011)
  • Photo: Apple
    iPhone 4S (2011)
October 13, 2011 -- 3:55 pm PDT

On Oct. 5 Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died of respiratory failure at age 56. Jobs had been battling pancreatic cancer since 2004 and had resigned his position as Apple CEO in August.

Eulogies poured in across all industries (and devices), from President Barack Obama and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to artists and creative professionals in the music industry. Some, like GRAMMY-winning producer Rick Rubin, were more descriptive in their written tributes. "I can't think of anyone who had more impact on our culture and quality of life than Steve Jobs," said Rubin. Others relied on brevity. "iSad," tweeted GRAMMY winner Neil Diamond.

"Visionary, pioneer, innovator, genius — all of these words and more have been used to describe the dynamic, passionate and driven Steve Jobs," said Neil Portnow, Recording Academy President/CEO. "The world has lost an inspiring and creative inventor whose extraordinary legacy will forever remain present in our lives."

While opinions vary regarding the benefits of Apple's impact on the music industry over the last decade, Jobs leaves behind an unprecedented legacy. He and childhood friend Steve Wozniak founded Apple literally out of a garage and would blaze the trail for the personal computer revolution in the '70s with the Apple II and in the '80s with the Macintosh.

Following his departure from Apple in 1985, Jobs purchased the company that would become known as Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar went on to produce hit movies such as Toy Story, a film opening the mainstream door for full-length computer-animated films.

A decade later Jobs found his way back to Apple, assuming the CEO position in 2000. During his second tenure, he would oversee an impressive period of growth and innovation, a time when devices such as iPod, iPhone and iPad, as well as iTunes, became household names — all the while transforming the way we consume, listen to and experience music.

With the passing of Apple's guiding visionary, we present the following 10-year timeline detailing some of the notable milestones that impacted the music industry and music fans under Jobs' leadership.

January 2001: Apple introduces iTunes, its digital "jukebox" software. Software downloads top 275,000 in one week.

October 2001: Apple unveils the iPod, an ultraportable, "breakthrough" MP3 player. At a low-key introductory press conference, Jobs says, "This amazing little device holds 1,000 songs and it goes right in my pocket."

February 2002: Apple is awarded a Technical GRAMMY Award by The Recording Academy in recognition of the company's outstanding technical contributions to the music industry and recording field, primarily for the way Apple technology supports professionals in the studio.

July 2002: The second-generation iPod is introduced, holding up to 4,000 songs and offering Windows compatibility. Cumulative iPod sales reach 600,000 units. Apple opens its first retail store in New York. By November, Apple's retail stores would grow to 50 across 24 states.

April 2003: The iTunes Music Store is launched, featuring more than 200,000 songs priced at 99 cents, including exclusive tracks from artists such as Bob Dylan, U2 and Sheryl Crow. The store is fully integrated into iTunes 4, allowing users to purchase, download, organize, and listen to music in one application. More than 1 million songs are sold in one week. Apple also announces the third-generation iPod, a sleeker unit housing 7,500 songs.

June 2003: Cumulative iPod sales total 1 million. By the end of the year, sales would double to 2 million.

September 2003: In six months, iTunes Store downloads top the 10 million mark. By December, downloads would reach 25 million.

November 2003: Apple announces the iTunes Store has gained more than 80 percent of the market share of legally purchased downloads, based on Nielsen SoundScan figures.

December 2003: The iTunes Store sells its 25 millionth song, "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" by Frank Sinatra.

January 2004: Apple unveils iPod mini, the "smallest portable music player ever" weighing 3.6 ounces. The company announces cumulative iPod sales surpass 2 million.

April 2004: After one year, Apple announces the iTunes Store has sold more than 70 million songs, making it the No. 1 online music service worldwide with more than a 70 percent market share of legal downloads for singles and albums.

June 2004: The iTunes Store goes global, launching in France, Germany and the UK. The store would debut in Canada in December and Japan in August 2005.

December 2004: iTunes Store downloads pass the 200 million mark. Cumulative iPod sales reach 10 million.

January 2005: The iTunes Store becomes an important part of the Awards process for the 47th Annual GRAMMY Awards, offering free downloads of all five nominations in the Record Of The Year category for voting members of The Recording Academy. Apple launches the second-generation lineup of the iPod mini, with 4GB and 6GB models and a battery life of up to 18 hours.

July 2005: Faith Hill's "Mississippi Girl" becomes the 500 millionth song purchased from the iTunes Store. "Just over two years ago, we sold our first song. Yesterday, we sold our half billionth song. Wow!" said Jobs.

September 2005: Apple introduces the iPod nano, a more portable device thinner than a pencil.

October 2005: The iTunes Store adds music videos; customers purchase more than 1 million videos in nearly three weeks. Tim Cook is named Apple COO.

February 2006: Apple announces more than 1 billion songs have been downloaded via the iTunes Store. "Over one billion songs have now been legally purchased and downloaded around the globe, representing a major force against music piracy," said Jobs.

September 2006: iTunes 7 debuts, adding a Cover Flow view feature enabling users to quickly find their music, TV shows and movies. Apple introduces the newest iPod classic, featuring a 2.5-inch color display.

January 2007: Apple announces the iPhone, a touch-control mobile phone allowing users to listen to music, browse the Internet, communicate via email, and more. "iPhone is a revolutionary product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone," said Jobs. iTunes Store downloads reach 2 billion.

April 2007: The 100 millionth iPod is sold. By this point, Apple had introduced more than 10 different iPod models.

July 2007: Apple announces more than 3 billion songs have been purchased from the iTunes Store.

September 2007: Sales of the iPhone surpass the 1 million mark. Apple debuts the iPod touch, a music player featuring the iPhone's multitouch interface.

January 2008: The Recording Academy partners again with iTunes to offer voting members full-length streams of nominated works for the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

February 2008: Apple announces iTunes download sales reach 4 billion. iTunes becomes the No. 2 U.S. music retailer, trailing only Walmart.

April 2008: iTunes surpasses Walmart to become the No. 1 music retailer in the United States.

June 2008: Apple introduces the "twice as fast" iPhone 3G, with 8GB and 16GB models available. By the end of 2008, the device would be available in more than 70 countries. The iTunes Store tops 5 billion downloads.

July 2008: More than 500 iPhone "apps" are available at Apple's new App Store. App categories span music, games, business, news, travel, and more. In its first weekend, iPhone 3G sales top 1 million.

September 2008: App Store downloads surpass 100 million in two months. More than 3,000 apps are now available.

January 2009: Apple announces that all iTunes songs are now offered DRM-free, with higher-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding.

February 2009: For the first time, The Recording Academy offers audio and video performances from the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards for sale via the iTunes Store, including performances from Coldplay, Jay-Z and Katy Perry. The Academy would offer additional GRAMMY performances for sale via iTunes in 2010 and 2011.

March 2009: Apple debuts the new iPod shuffle, the "world's smallest music player," which is thinner than a AA battery.

April 2009: App Store downloads surpass 1 billion.

July 2009: After one year, App Store downloads reach 1.5 billion apps. "The App Store is like nothing the industry has ever seen before in both scale and quality," said Jobs.

September 2009: Apple launches iTunes 9, adding features such as the iTunes LP and Home Sharing. The company unveils its latest iPods, including a new iPod touch lineup and new iPod nano with video camera capability. App Store downloads hit 2 billion.

December 2009: Cumulative iPod sales reach 250 million.

January 2010: App Store downloads surpass the 3 billion mark. Apple introduces the iPad, a device with a multitouch display that is thinner and lighter than a laptop. iPad is designed to run apps from the App Store and browse the Web, read and send email, watch videos, listen to music, read books, and more.

February 2010: Johnny Cash's "Guess Things Happen That Way" becomes the 10 billionth song downloaded from iTunes.

May 2010: Since its April launch, iPad sales reach 1 million, 300,000 of which were sold in the device's first day of availability. Sales would reach 2 million by the end of the month.

June 2010: Apple debuts iPhone 4, with new features such as FaceTime, an upgraded camera, video recording capability, and more. In three weeks, iPhone 4 sales hit 1.7 million. iPad sales reach 3 million.

September 2010: Cumulative iPod sales total 275 million.

November 2010: The Beatles' music is available for the first time via the iTunes Store, including the group's 13 remastered studio albums. "It has been a long and winding road to get here," said Jobs.

January 2011: Jobs takes a medical leave of absence from the company. Cook assumes oversight of Apple's day-to-day operations. App Store downloads top 10 billion.

June 2011: Apple announces iCloud, a cloud-based service designed to work seamlessly between Apple devices to wirelessly store and push content. Features include iTunes Match, a service that replaces users' music with a DRM-free version if it is matched with the more than 18 million songs in the iTunes Store. iTunes Match costs $24.99 per year.

August 2011: Jobs resigns as Apple CEO and is named chairman of the company's board. Cook is appointed new CEO. "I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it," said Jobs.

Oct. 4: Apple announces the iPhone 4S, a new model with features including a dual-core A5 chip, all-new camera, HD resolution video recording capability, and a voice-recognition assistant, Siri. Ahead of its Oct. 12 launch, pre-order sales pass 1 million. Apple announces the new lineup of iPod touch and iPod nano. Cumulative iPod sales stand at more than 320 million units sold.

Oct. 5: Steve Jobs dies. People are invited to share their memories and condolences via email at "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being," said Cook.

Oct. 12: iCloud is launched.


Email Newsletter