Apple’s iPhone was not the first cell phone with an integrated music player (the Samsung Uproar, 2000), nor the first with a touchscreen interface (LG Prada, 2007). And phones with touchscreens had been available for nearly a decade. The iPhone wasn’t even the first on which a user could download and install mini applications (the Palm OS–powered Handspring Treo 180, 2002). So what was so special about it?
In less than a decade, “iPod” has become nearly synonymous with the digital music player, an extraordinary accomplishment shared by only a handful of other consumer brands—such as Band-Aid, Kleenex, and Frigidaire—whose trademarked names have come to describe a generic product.