It’s easy to forget that technology changes quickly when you follow this industry. When the first iPod was released in 2001, it was a much different world. Components weren’t powerful enough to create smartphones and tablets. Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and Spotify didn’t exist. Microsoft had just released the original Xbox and Windows XP.
Today’s kids are now younger than the original iPod. Some of them have always lived near a smartphone. In the video embedded above, Fine Brothers Entertainment gives an iPod to a few kids with very little instruction about how it works. And I find this video fascinating for many reasons.
Many praised the click wheel on the iPod as an innovative human interface mechanism. But when you give an iPod to these kids and tell them to play a song, all of them will try to swipe on the screen, expecting it to be a touch screen.
It has become very natural to unlock your phone by swiping on the screen, scrolling through lists using your finger. But it’s very recent. Compare the video above with Steve Jobs’ introduction of the iPhone. Listen to the reaction in the audience when Jobs swipes through a list of artists:
The reaction to this simple swiping gesture says a lot about Apple keynotes. They are marketing tools and training sessions for millions of people around the world who watch these demos. Unlocking your phone by swiping your finger on the lock screen isn’t obvious at all. The company had to display “Swipe to unlock” for years before dropping the instruction in iOS 7. With its press conferences, Apple found a way to teach you how to do it, making new user interfaces less intimidating.
Today’s kids have never been exposed to the original iPod and have no idea how to use it. They expect it to have Wi-Fi, a speaker, apps and games. It also seems insane for them that you had to plug your iPod to a computer to transfer MP3 files. And it’s true that it’s much easier to find the Spotify, YouTube or iTunes Store icon now.
At the very beginning of the video many kids even say that it’s an old phone, not a music player. Now that most people in the U.S. own a smartphone, MP3 players are a thing of the past. Yet, I still vividly remember my first iPod. But maybe the original iPod will make an unexpected comeback now that vinyl records are popular again.