It’s hard to imagine Apple before the iPod now, but 10 years ago, it didn’t exist yet. Apple was back on track, but it had yet to release a device that could be considered a ‘game changer’. Initially, I don’t think anyone believed that the iPod would have the success that it has had. The early reviews were split on it, with half seeing it for the brilliant device that it was, and the other half only seeing it for what it lacked (Windows compatibility and USB connectivity).
Still, it’s not a stretch to say that the iPod is the device that defined the modern Apple. It definitely gave them the resources and clout to tackle devices like the iPhone and iPad.