The proprietary name of a small, portable digital media player produced by Apple in various forms. The ‘i’, which may be short for internet, was inherited from previous Apple products (e.g. iMac), while ‘Pod’ stands for ‘personal on demand’. Introduced in 2001, the iPod was relatively slow to catch on until the introduction of Apple's iTunes service in 2003; this had a significant impact on the music industry, making legal downloads more accessible than they had ever been before. Within a year, the iPod had become a must-have item for gadget-loving music fans, and its sustained success led to the development of the internet and multimedia-friendly iPhone (launched in 2007), the App Store (2008), and the iPad (2010) tablet computer.
Apple has faced several lawsuits from rival companies who have claimed patent infringement by the iPod line, and in the course of one legal wrangle they filed documents acknowledging that the technology behind the device had in fact been invented by a British man, Kane Kramer, in 1979. However, when Kramer was unable to secure the funding to renew his patents, the technology became public property. See also APP; MP3; PODCAST.
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