"It's really a new concept. It's the excitement of chance," Mr. Ng said in a published report just after the launch. "iPod users told us for years that they loved the Shuffle option, and now they're even more delighted by the randomness of the playlists in the Shuffle."
A marketing campaign capitalized on that with catchy taglines such as "Life is random" and "Enjoy uncertainty." TV and print advertising used the familiar brightly colored iPod backgrounds and silhouetted dancers grooving to their Shuffle music.
Critics and competitors jumped on the lack of display and questioned the popularity of the Shuffle's system. They got their answer fairly quickly.
Within weeks, the Apple Web site sold its inventory and was taking pre-orders with multiweek waits for the two different sized devices (512 MB and 1 GB). Stores around the country felt the same pinch, as consumers lined up to buy the tiny white sticks advertised visually on Apple's Web site as smaller than typical packs of gum. (Apple added a comical note to the bottom of the page: Do not eat iPod Shuffle.)
The demand continued even as more Shuffle devices became available, creating ongoing success. Just six months after its launch, Apple said the Shuffle had taken the lead and gobbled up 58% of the flash player market.