While the world was busy saying hello to the new Apple Watch and iPhone 6, Apple quietly said farewell to one of its most iconic products, the iPod classic. Indeed, after nearly 13 years on the market, the device that defined and dominated the portable music player industry is no more.
When Apple introduced the iPod (the classic suffix was added in 2007) people weren’t sure what to make of it. Many, even among the Apple faithful, were quick to dismiss it as too expensive or just another MP3 player, calling for Apple to “Think Different”. But it turned out that Apple had thought different, and in the following years the iPod and its growing lineup would come to dominate the MP3 player market.
The iPod proved beyond a doubt that Apple could produce a successful mass market consumer electronics device – and inadvertently set the stage for its own undoing.
The Writing on The Wall
The end of the iPod classic has been in motion since the day Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. Here was a device that could do everything the iPod could, and so much more. As people migrated to smartphones, the demand for the iPod started to fall. Most people no longer needed a dedicated MP3 player, their phone had become their electronic companion.
Despite loosing its crown to smartphones, the iPod classic continued to soldier on, filling a need for those with large music libraries or who wanted long playback time on a single charge. Even still, we all knew its days were numbered. Apple introduced the last model of the classic in 2007, and last refreshed it with more storage in 2009. We were all waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it finally did five years to the day after the last update to the classic.
The Future of the iPod
You’re probably wondering, what about the rest of the iPod lineup? It’s hard to say. Apple last refreshed the rest of the iPod lineup two years ago, and some models, especially the Touch, are starting to look long in the tooth.
I think the devices in the iPod lineup will remain with us for a few more years, as they have more defined roles within Apple’s overall product lineup. The iPod touch serves as a gateway into the iOS ecosystem for kids and for those who can’t or won’t buy an iPhone or iPad. The Shuffle is still well suited for people working out, I still use my 1st gen Shuffle at the gym. The Nano fills a happy middle ground, more portable than the Touch, more capable than the Shuffle, and offering enough storage for most people.
The iPod is in decline, no doubt about it. But I think the iPod will be with us a little while more. Hopefully the remaining models will see some sort of refresh in the near future, that A5 chip is looking pretty dated. If we reach the end of the year with no update, that’s when I’ll start to get worried.