The Death of the iPod Classic




Lovely, nostalgic piece of writing there. Funny how much shorter our ‘nostalgia span’ is these days.


No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

(Of course I’m showing my age here; that was Slashdot’s unimpressed take on the iPod at its original release in 2001)


I’m trying to parse this excerpt from the article:

Nobody who went to the event kept the CDs, they just piled them up on a table at the office. I still have one, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends, because, while Apple design may be the coolest thing around, the company has always, always had shitty taste in music.

Is he saying that Bookends was a shitty album? Or that it was the only one worth keeping? I’m solidly GenX myself, and while I’m a bit tired of how Boomers deify 1960s icons like Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel, Bookends really is excellent.


For all his wistfulness, Mat doesn’t hit on why I really miss the ipod classic. Replacing my ipod with an iphone, while it’s one less device to carry, is a great step back in ergonomics and human-device interaction.

In the early generations, it had an LCD screen that always showed what song was playing. You’d have to press a button to get the backlight, but sitting at my desk I could always glance over and see the track info. Now, I have to hit a button to see what’s playing.

Also much missed are the dedicated buttons for play, next, and volume. I loved being able to pause or skip a song without looking at the device. Was great while driving, great while typing, great while walking with the device in my pocket. Now, I have to hit one button to wake up the screen then hit the right spot on the touchscreen where those controls are, which usually involves looking at the screen.


I use an iPod Classic on my Loud Bike that I take on weekly community bike rides. It’s damn near usable on a bike (unless I hit a pothole while scrolling, or don’t want to wait ten seconds for the volume control to become functional after song selection), but mainly it gives me access to a metric shit-ton of songs if someone requests something during a ride.

As a replacement, I got a Galaxy Tablet to see if it will get the job done with a 64 GB micro SD card. Perhaps there’s a DJ app that actually is usable on a bike. Needs a bigger mount, though.


The crazy thing is, they were kind of right. The hardware was not revolutionary. The UI was better than its contemporaries, but not enough to get that excited about. The real thing they missed was the iTunes Music Store. The service was the huge game changer, not the device. For once you could legitimately buy music online without suffering through incredibly narrow selections (including none of the music you actually want), insane price points, and onerous DRM. Apple still had DRM, but at least it wasn’t up in your face all the time.

Also, the first couple of generations of the iPod were not huge sellers, thanks to their high price points. They blew away other MP3 players (which is kind of like beating an infant at arm wrestling), but were still dwarfed by portable CD player sales at the time. It took a few years for iPods to come down in price and really sell like hotcakes.

The iPod was the first music player you could buy that didn’t announce to the world: “I steal music!”, but only because iTunes actually worked.


Not being a crappy piece of plastic with bargain off-the-shelf electronics and horrible user-hostile interfaces like most of the competition must have helped too.


It certainly helped, but without the iTunes music store the iPod would have likely remained a footnote in history.


My first and only iPod was and is The Shuffle. Still going strong. My 12 year old lashed it to a pair of headphones and is now permanently plugged in to his music and podcasts and stuffs. If he gets his brother’s old iPhone, I’m pretty sure he’ll hack a baseball cap, fresnel lens, headphones (along with some hot glue and duct tape) into an ersatz Occulus Rift.

Chip off the old blockhead.


iPod was 60% iTunes, 30% marketing, and 10% revolutionary design. Yes I am overly critical of iPod but it was an obvious rift of tech people and people discovering Apple.


I do think you underestimate the psychological importance of a pleasant, no-bullshit user experience in a product that felt (to me at least) particularly well made and lasted forever. Without that “people remember how you made them feel” factor I think there would be no one mourning the death of a consumer product, so to speak, long after marketing efforts have stopped.


Kind of like cars and paved roads.



Same with the iPhone. I am of the “I can toll this on my own crowd.“ Thing is, I do not want to roll certain things on my time , when I can simply pay for them.


It was incredibly well made, I will never try and deny that. However, I was never as in love with Apple’s interface as so many others are. The click wheel was well thought out for single hand use.


I remember back when the iPod came out, and I worked for one of the AppleCare call centers doing frontline support for this new device, thinking how interesting that they called it “iPod” and not something more specific to music. Even then, the multifaceted set of capabilities that would someday be offered by the device seemed clear.

Fast forward to now, where we’re generations in to the “everything device” that I then dreamed of. What I now wonder is, what’s next? What new thing that’s only being hinted at now is going to be commonplace 10 years for now? I have to think it’s something like a tenth-generation line of very high performance wearable computing objects that lie somewhere between the Apple Watch, Google Glass, and the earpiece worn by Phoenix’s character in Her (brought to you by Beats by Dre by Apple of course).

Anyone else have prognostications they’d like to share?


So Apple didn’t keep pace with Moore’s Law and won’t attempt to sell me an iPod Classic 1TB. Well if not them, then who will?

“YOU CAN FIT YOUR WHOLE MUSIC LIBRARY IN YOUR POCKET.” Well not for a while and def not now. For those of us who define ourselves by our huge music collections, what are we to do now?


Don’t ask, you won’t like the answer :smile: :


It’s not always the answer, but doesn’t the bevy of streaming music services negate the need for mega local storage capacities, for many users at least?


There’s no free wifi in a field in Lincolnshire, or while riding a motorcycle in Kazakhstan or at a full moon party in Bali. The streaming services are not available in Hanoi due to region restrictions. Google Music has a 20k track limit. The streaming services do not have a full set of Fact and Resident Advisor Mixes. Neither do they have a rip of that 12" dub plate from Trojan Sound. So, no. streaming music services are not an alternative.

There’s a small but persistent market of people who want a big capacity, quality audio, personal music player. The problem is it’s a small market. Too small for Apple.