Realised in 2003, the 3rd generation of the iPod has been characterised as one of the first dominant gadgets that have changed the way we entertain ourselves, offering a combination of great performance and features with a low price. 

Developed by Steve JobsTony Fadell and Jony Iv, in 2001, the Apple iPod was the only device that rocked the MP3 player market from the moment of its release. Unlike the Walkman, which was the first of its kind on the market, the iPod was a variation on a theme (Downey 2014, p. 10). There were already MP3 players from companies like Panasonic and Sony that had a really good marketing appeal, giving people the ability to listen to their favourite artists whenever they are and any time they want. But the iPod, even though it had the same philosophy with the later devices, was released to introduce a more unparalleled access to anyone’s music collection whilst on the move (Bull 2005). It became a bestseller when it went on sale and was hailed the “gadget of the 21st century”(Woode 2021), as it enabled users to store up to 1.000 songs, often refer to the magical nature of carrying their entire music collection with them wherever they go, giving them an unprecedented amount of choice of music to listen to (Bull 2005, p. 344).

Steve Jobs introducing the iPod in 2001| Youtube

The iPod device wasn’t a success only for the unlimited number of songs and albums you could store in. Design and technology really were the two elements that launched its demand. In 2003, iPod advertisements have become a part of pop-culture themselves, when, the famous black silhouettes wearing white earbuds, dance in front of colourful backgrounds to music by artists like “Gorillaz” and “The Black-Eyed Peas” where everywhere to be seen in the world projected through the “silhouette” television commercials. And this is what was indeed happening, according to what Bull, professor of sound studies at the University of Sussex,  explored in his book  “Sound Moves: iPod Culture and Urban Experience” (2007). More specifically, he tried to analyse “how and why the spaces of the city are being transformed right in front of our ears”, as mobile devices accompany us everywhere we go and the music influences our experiences of different places and events in our lives (Woode 2021).

The colourful dancing figures for the iPod’s campaign in 2003 | Source Pinterest

In terms of entertainment, the quality of the music made people feel more attached to the songs and experience more vividly their favourite music. Songs, thus, became one with our lives and iPod users had the ability to create a privatised sound world, harmonized with their mood, orientation and surroundings, enabling them to re-spatialise urban experience through a process of solipsistic aestheticization (Morabito 2014, p.3). As privatised and mediated sound reproduction enabled consumers to create those intimate, manageable and aestheticised spaces in which they are increasingly able, and desire, to live (Bull 2005, p.347), it could be also described as creating a ‘space’ within which users unwind and unravel their emotions, thus providing a base for thinking more clearly or lucidly (p. 349). And this is where another really interesting aspect of the iPod use, is coming into the fore. It can represent a form of biographical travelling (Bull 2005, p. 349). More specifically, the narrative quality that users attach to music permits them to reconstruct these narrative memories at will in places where they would otherwise have difficulty in summoning them up, providing to the user a feeling of being warmly wrapped up in their own personalised space (p. 349).

The world looks friendlier, happier, and sunnier when I walk down the street with my iPod on. It feels as if I’m in a movie at times. Like my life has a soundtrack now.

Quote by Berkley, an interviewer in Bull’s book iPod Use: An Urban Aesthetic of Sonic Ubiquity (2013)
iPod Nano 3rd generation in various colours | Source: Google images

And just like that, the iPod started to become one of the things that determined the whole realm of music and of course changing the people’s lifestyle. But how the lifestyle? According to Garner (2014), technology has played a central role in shaping societal norms particularly for millennia (p.1), as the iPod, intertwined with the result of the rapid development of technology, has changed the way society functions introducing a new culture of entertainment. More and more models-smaller sizes to fit in your small pocket, bigger GB capacity to store more songs in your music collection and in different colours to meet the preferences of each individual -starting to be introduced and monopolize the interest, making Kahney (2006) comment that “We are fast becoming an iPod nation, we are fast becoming an iPod world” (p.235)

Major iPod challenges in the 21st century

Although the iPod device has changed the way people experience music and entertain themselves, there are occasions that these technological objects provide to discuss major challenges in the 21st century. To begin with, the creation of a personalised soundworld through iPod use that was last mentioned in the previous section of this post, creates a form of accompanied solitude for its users in which they feel empowered, in control and self-sufficient as they travel through the spaces of the city (Bull 2005, p. 353). In his more recent paper, Bull (2007), argued that the iPod plays a significant role in creating an “architecture of isolation” (Garner 2014, p.3) for the people using any MP3 player. Benson and Berson (2007) also stressed the increased need for people to realize how technologies affect their own behaviour, saying:

“Young people typically underestimate the influence of digital technologies on their behaviour or the potential for risk involved with their use. As a result, youth may not have developed the capacity to respond in a judicious manner and lack skills to create a barrier from harm.” (p. 293)

making entertainment not an “us” thing, but more of “me and myself” thing. Is not only being alone in your room, put your headphones on and play your favourite melody in order to relax and clear your mind, is about distancing yourself from the outside world from any other person that stands in front of you or near you. Knowing how a certain technology will affect people is an elementary step in discerning whether to fight a technological trend or become its ally. (Garner, 2014, p. 3).

But apart from the isolation and the «distance » the individual creates when using these devices, an equally important challenge was arising. There is no doubt that the landscape of the music industry has undergone a significant transformation since the turn of the millennium due to technological change. The record companies have partially lost a hold of the control that once allowed them to keep prices for music, and their profits, high (El Gamal 2012, p.21). The “Peer-to-peer” file sharing action as the main habit of listening and sharing music, as well us illegally download songs without having the consent of the artists neither the industry’s, costing the music industry a fortune in lost CD sales (Gamal 2012, p.27). Even with legal digital music sales through online vendors such as Apple’s iTunes Store introduced in 2003, the music industry was still trying to determine how to make a large enough profit to stay in business.

Why in the Virtual Time Capsule?

Source by GIFERS website searching “iPod” |

Bull’s comment about the iPod being the first cultural icon of the 21st century on his paper “Iconic Designs: The Apple iPod” (2006), can clearly reflect how can such a device be part of the Virtual Time Capsule. The iPod apart from offering the user the unfettered auditory freedom of movement from home to street to automobile to office to mall, and to any other areas, it also enabled the user to carry a tone of music and songs in a small device and listen to it wherever he is and with whoever he wanted. And of course, me as a child had this capability. Trips with family and school where the two most common times where I was enjoying more my music as during the ride, I was pretending to be in a video clip only by looking out the window and have to my ears my favourite song in repeat, creating thus my imaginary world. Moreover, with the end of the iPod in 2011, Apple decided to proceed with the creation of the iPhone, a mobile phone sharing the same philosophy as the latest model of the iPod touch. This step of the company offered once again the revolution in mobile phones, which are no longer limited only to communication, but also to many other functions such as cameras, various entertainment applications, as well as the introduction of music in them.


Name: iPod Nano 

3D Model

Creator: Nantia Kinikli

Date: 24-01-2022

Place: Brussels, Belgium

Themes: Entertainment, Technology and Society, Wellness

Captured with iPhone 11 camera on a tripod,  lightbox

Processed with Agisoft Metashape Professional Software run on Windows 10


Physical Object

Size: 6,9cm H x 6,2cm W x 0,6cm D 

Weight: 45 gr

Material: Metallic, glass plastic


Benson, I. R., & Berson, M. J., (2007). Ubiquitous mobile phone technology and youth: Cross-national findings. In M. van ‘t Hooft, & K. Swan (Eds.), 287-302

Bull, M., (2005). No Dead Air! The iPod and the Culture of Mobile Listening. Leisure Studies, 24(4), 343-355 DOI: 10.1080/0261436052000330447

Bull M., (2006). Iconic Designs: The Apple iPod. In Bull M. (Eds.), The Sense and Society, 1(1), 105-108 DOI: 10.2752/174589206778055619

Bull, M., (2013). iPod use: an urban aesthetics of sonic ubiquity, Continuum, 27(4), 495-504, DOI: 10.1080/10304312.2013.803300

Downey, R., (2014). Headphone Music on the Move: The Walkman and iPod become Fashion. School of Music, 1-31

El Gamal A., (2012). The Evolution of the Music Industry in the Post-Internet Era.  Claremont McKenna College, 1-72

Garner B., (2014). iPod use and the perception of social introversion. Leisure Studies,  33(1), 22-31 DOI: 10.1080/02614367.2012.699976

Michelle, L., (2012). iPod a 21st century icon. Design and Visual Culture, 1-24

Woode, D., (October 19, 2021). iPod 20th anniversary: How Apple’s gadget changed the way people listen to music but quickly became superseded