Every technology company has a product that can be said to define it. For Microsoft (MSFT), it’s Windows. For Google (GOOG), it’s Google Search. And for Apple (AAPL), a company that once had the word “computer” in its name, it’s the iPod. That’s right, the iPod, not the iPhone or iPad or any future i-device coming along.
To answer, let’s go back in time to 2001. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was firmly in charge, delivering newly redesigned Macs that were helping the company tread water. It was clear that Apple was in better shape, but it hadn’t yet found a panacea. Until the iPod. Of course, the music player became a near-instant hit around the world, and suddenly Apple was back on the upswing. (This story also became canonical business hagiography.) Apple sold its one-millionth iPod in June 2003 and hit 2 million just six months later. Within three years of its launch, sales had hit 10 million units.