Requiem for the iPod Classic

23 06 2010

The iPod can essentially be thanked (or cursed) for accelerating Apple’s renaissance and rise into the technological (evil) empire it has become today. Sure, having Steve Jobs come back, and making your computers fruity colored and aesthetically pleasing helped, but the iPod provided the general public an object relatively cheap enough where everyone in middle America could own one, but expensive enough to make it into a status symbol.

The iPod has evolved from a (then) small MP3 player that could hold 5 gigabytes of music (which, in 2001, was, like, a bajillion CDs!), to a new product line that is arguably now Apple’s (and AT&T in America’s) prize horse: the iPhone. Its fourth generation is due in stores tomorrow, and people who pre-ordered have, for the most part, received them now.

iPhone envy has driven consumers to buy the “iPhone without a phone” iPod Touch, which runs Apple’s now-called iOS. That iPod Touch is a long call from the first generation iPod, with its physical scroll wheel and 4 physical perimeter buttons, and didn’t really have “apps,” unless you count Breakout and Guess That Song In Your Library as apps.

The iPod has gone a long way since 2001. The original iPod has a maximum storage space of 5gb for $399, or 10gb for $499. The current vanguard of the original iPod idea, the iPod Classic, can be got with 160gb for $249. Not to mention that the (now) bestselling iPod nano is sold for $149 for 8gb, and $199 for 16gb. And the damn thing has a video camera and a radio tuner (something that shite-ugly Taiwanese MP3 players have had for years).

The sad thing is that the iPod Classic has been relegated to nostalgia status. Who cares if you can carry around 160gb of music around (which, by the way, is a hella lot), when you can get a cute, tiny iPod nano for $100 less (and 152gb lighter)? Gone is the day where you could claim to your friends that you can carry your entire music library in your pocket (unless you had a smallish music library to begin with). It seems that the iPod (Classic) was built for an era where people had massive libraries of music procured illegally via Napster and Kazaa. Now, these comparatively small-in-storage devices seen with the nano, the Touch and the iPhone are made for people who actually buy their music from iTunes. You can’t fill 160gb with 99 cent songs without bankrupting yourself. 40,000 songs is $39,600 at 99 cent face value.

It’s 2010. The iPod line is damn near 10 years old already, and has evolved far from its “humble” life as simply a portable music player. The iPod Classic, by its name, is just a relic of a game-changing device, and is resembling less and less of its progeny. It’s still being sold by Apple, but I hardly have heard of anyone recently gushing about their new iPod Classic. The new “it” toys are the iPhone and iPad, and having a nano or Touch is pretty much a given for many people. Honestly, as much as I’m a (reluctant) Apple fan, and (unfortunately) materialistically shallow, the original incarnation of the iPod, and the later generations based off of that “Classic” line seem to be something humbling. Who needs flash storage when you could have a spooling hard drive bound to fail, and LOTS of storage? Now, it seems like we are focusing on thinness and touch screen capabilities, rather than the focus of what an iPod was to begin with — having your entire selection of music at the flick and push of a scroll wheel. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we have regressed in terms of storage space, but evolved in what we expect our personal technology to do. The iPod Classic only really has one real purpose, and that is to play music. Sure, you can look at photos, play video, and even try to manage to play a game with the scroll wheel, but the iTouch and the iPhone do that, and they do it better.

I’m really expecting Apple to just drop having iPod Classics sometime by the end of the year, if not next. Our consumer tastes have evolved, and Apple and other smartphones (I’m looking at you, Android!) are continuing to further push our expectations of what we are looking for in handheld devices.

And as a result, we are going to have to bid farewell to a little piece of technological nostalgia.

Full Disclosure: I’m buying an iPhone 4 as soon as I can get my grubby little hands on it, unless someone can persuade me to get something Android-based.




6 responses

23 06 2010

I think I must be a strange one because I absolutely adore my iPod Classic. I take the train and fly a lot, so it’s really nice for me to be able to pack my iPod with movies and TV shows to watch while I ignore all the screaming babies.
I know it’s a tiny screen and you can still watch all of that on an iTouch, but I can’t be bothered with needing to shuffle everything around depending on what I want to watch/listen to.

23 06 2010

I was so discouraged once they started drifting further and further away from the hard drive iPod. Touchsceens and nanos are great and all, but the sheer amount of storage given with hard drive iPods while keeping the price reasonable won’t be matched with the flash memory they are putting in the new stuff for years to come.

I think the only way to save the Classic to to drop the price. Sure, you’re getting 160 gigs for $249, but the nano is still outselling its larger brother by leaps and bounds. Ironically, Apple is making us more frugal, because many won’t spend an extra $50 for 144 gigs of more space.

23 06 2010

Another reason why I wouldn’t get the iTouch is because I had an iPhone and its screen got shattered really easily. The Classic isn’t nearly that fragile. The Nano is too small. I’d lose it for sure.
I don’t understand why people aren’t willing to spent that extra $50. Then again, I have a huge library of music/movies so I guess I’d be kind of biased towards something with more space.

23 06 2010

I’m with TLB on this one. I’ve had several iterations of mp3 players, especially those of the iPod variety. (For instance: a 40gb G4 which I broke/was replaced by a 60 gb G4 photo (warrantied), then a 80gb G5, and now a 120 gb G6)

I prefer having all my music with me, when I had a small 5 gb before switching to iPods, it was annoying to have to load up music I thought I wanted to listen to. Depending upon who I’m with, I can cater to their musical wants – so it’s easy to just fling the iPod at em’ and let them figure out what they want. But what I don’t think I can handle a touch. I have a tendency to be clumsy and I doubt that characteristic is going to go anywhere anytime soon.

I’ve got a phone, which I use for all my application based stuff because it’s attached to a network and can do wifi, so regardless of where I am I can continue to use all the applications I have.

I have noticed they are slowly edging the Classic out, there used to be multiple iterations – now only a 160gb is offered. Within a few years the iPod touch’s components will be a bit cheaper, so I’d expect the capacities to grow beyond the 160 that the classic offers, thus making it completely unneeded.

24 06 2010

If Apple wanted, they could make a 500 gigabite hard drive iPod for the same price they sell the 160 one. The technology is there, and it’s not like 500gb hard drives are expensive to make. The problem is, it would be hard to market when you’re peddling touch screens and the compactness of nanos.

Looking at the product line now, it’s quite clear they are looking at solid state flash storage as the future. We’re bound to get 128 and 256 gb iTouches soon at a decent price, right?

24 06 2010

I would guess “at a decent price” mean 2012. Even then, I’d assume the price to go up $50/$100. They already are pulling in a huge amount per iPod based on the components inside these things, but there’s always room for more greed.

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