Apple has done it, the scoundrels! It has killed the mighty iPod classic and all its 160GB of music-storing magic.
We feared this would be the case, back at the start of the year. Read our heartfelt plea to keep the iPod classic in the Apple product line up here...
It’s not a claim as great as Douglas Adams being the first owner of an Apple Macintosh in the UK (Stephen Fry was the second) but I might have been the first non-Apple employee to own an iPod in the UK.
I just so happened to be the person sitting next to the Apple PR when he handed out boxes of the brand-new MP3 player on UK launch day back in 2001.
I remember that I was first to unbox it – we didn’t video such things in those days – and switch it on because everyone else in the room was still eating their breakfast. I’d already eaten. On such tiny details is history made.
Since then I’ve owned a bunch of the iconic portable music players – updating either to review them for Macworld or bought them as my iTunes library outgrew the old one.
I owned the original 5GB iPod (2001), the 20GB second-generation iPod (2002), the weird iPod with the silly buttons (2003), the 60GB iPod Photo (2004), the first iPod shuffle (2005), the fifth-gen 80GB iPod (2005), the clip-on iPod shuffle (2006), and the 160GB iPod classic (2007).
That last one is still going, making it my most-used Apple product of all time – with the possible exception of one of those Apple logo stickers that I stuck on a door in 1994.
I didn’t like the look of the super-popular iPod mini (both girly and awkward), and despite its waif-like looks I never bought an iPod nano (looked like it might snap).
I didn’t bother with the iPod touch for a few reasons. Indeed I have something of an irrational disliking of the touch. Here’s a few reasons why I’ve avoided it.
First, 12 reasons why the iPod touch is no iPod classic
1. It’s too expensive. The current 64GB touch costs £329. The 160GB classic is £199.
2. Its maximum capacity for ages was 32GB and still only offers the same storage as the iPod I owned a decade ago. The 160GB iPod classic can hold, according to Apple, 40,000 tracks. Check your iTunes. That’s a lot. And you can stuff the classic full of movies and TV shows if you really must, plus your photos too!
3. I already own an iPhone.
4. It’s not really an iPod, is it? It’s an iPhone that can’t make phone calls. A cheap knock, I know, but a true one.
5. You get to the music much faster on an iPod classic than on a touch. The iPod is ready as soon as you switch it on. On a touch music is just another app.
6. You don’t have to turn the iPod classic sideways to browse Cover Flow. In fact, until today I didn't even realise that you could use Cover Flow on the iPod classic. (Thanks to Kirk McElhearn for pointing this out to me.)
7. The iPod classic doesn’t annoy you with bloody notifications.
8. The iPod is smaller than an iPhone or touch and can just about hold all my music. (Well, it’s a little less tall but a tad wider, deeper and heavier than the touch.)
9. The battery life is great – despite powering an actual moving hard drive it lasts longer than the flashy SSD in an iPhone. There’s no point in creating a battery case for an iPod. Apple’s tech specs suggest the iPod touch has better battery life but that’s only if you promise to not touch another app, and switch off wi-fi, etc.
10. It fits all my speakers at home. If I moved my music to an iPhone I’d have to buy two Lightning adapters, which together would cost me more than the price of a new iPod shuffle.
11. OK it’s in a case that’s fraying at the edges but the iPod classic is so old it's kind of retro. Yes, it could stop working at any time – at seven years old it’s surely on borrowed time.
12. It has outlived about six pairs of headphones. Not Apple earbuds – proper headphones.
Out of all the iPods I’ve owned the current iPod classic is one of the best designs – the original is hard to beat, though, for true iconic and tech-ironic status points.
But for years pundits have been predicting the demise of the iPod proper – mainly because of the stupid iPod touch.
10 reasons why Apple might kill the iPod
1. To show it's still innovative and young at heart Apple must sacrifice its old in a Logans Run demonstartion of tech virility.
2. The iPod accounted for less than 2% of Apple's total revenue for the past quarter, down from 4% the year before. That, friends, is known in business as a trend.
3. For the first time in more than a decade, the iPod's revenue was less than billion. Apple counts in billions, not millions.
4. Apple CEO Tim Cook calls the iPod “a declining business”. That is not a ringing endorsement from the man who makes the decisions.
5. Apple’s CFO Peter Oppenheimer thinks that decline will continue: "We would expect [iPod sales] to continue to decline year-over-year in the March quarter". That trend thing again – not from an analyst, from the numbers guy at Apple. Bell starts clanging.
6. Apple hasn’t updated the iPod classic since 2009, and Jony Ive probably raised only his eyebrow during that re-jig.
7. The iPod classic still uses Apple’s old 30-pin connector. Anything without Lightning or a Thunderbolt connection has one foot in the Cupertino municipal graveyard.
8. Everyone is streaming their music via services such as Spotify. Let Spotify store all the music and just download what you need when you need it.
9. Apple likes to keep a lean product matrix.
10. Even Samsung hasn’t bothered to copy it.
10 reasons why Apple won’t kill the iPod
What gives me hope about the at least medium-term survival chances of the iPod in Apple’s line up of stellar products?
1. The iPod is still the second product family in the Apple website’s top tabs, right next to the Mac and before the iPhone or iPad. That’s significant surely, unless Apple has a satanic reverse alphabetical product line-up strategy. Remember, though, that this is the company that sold its first product for
2. The iPod range still generates massive revenues – m (£587m) in the last quarter. That’s close to billion a year (if we had Christmas every three months, that is…). That should pay for a few windows in the new corporate spaceship.
3. Apple sold 6 million iPods from October-December 2013, with an average price of – which suggests that the pricier models are more popular than the cheapo shuffle. Apple hasn’t broken down the numbers to separate the classic and the touch, mind.
4. The iPod saved Apple. Forget the kooky Bondi Blue iMac. The iMac enabled Apple to limp on until it discovered its next game changer and that was the iPod – from which came the iPhone, which took the rescued company and propelled it into the really big time.
5. Apple has plenty of cash. It’s not looking at cutting costs right now, as far as we can tell.
6. Streaming services such as Spotify rely on large Internet data downloads – no good when you’re on holiday without limitless Wi-Fi. Music stored locally on your iPod wins every time.
7. Lossless. If you want the highest-quality music you need an enormous storage capacity. Only the iPod classic will do.
8. Apple didn’t do much with the Mac Pro – The Mac That Time Forgot – for even longer. For an entire decade Apple left the Pro in effectively the same case, tinkering with the processor and storage, and every now and then switching the FireWire around. Then out of the blue we get a new Mac Pro that no one else but a Cube-era Apple could have dreamed up. Apple's been even lazier with the iPod classic but who knows what it has up its sleeve? See: Latest Apple rumours
9. Tim Cook hasn’t yet mercilessly killed off a product line. Steve Jobs used to relish such murder. Has Tim got it in him to strike down the iPod? Has anyone called Tim ever been nasty?
10. Pop stars won’t bother turning up at Apple product launches any more. What will they be left to entertain the media with – jugglers and dwarves?
If Apple is mad enough to ditch the iPod I only hope it gives us all a chance to update our music players to the latest model, and not just suddenly stop selling it.
I expect new, boxed iPod classics to jump in value when Apple pulls the plug on the non-Flash players – with diehards like me resisting the pricier iPod touch and its feeble capacity. Even if Apple releases a 160GB iPod touch, imagine the cost!
The iPod classic is well named. It carries more music at a higher quality. It doesn’t do much else – ever played one of the iPod games? – so you can listen to music properly and not do so while playing Ninja Fruit or tapping in Facebook updates. It’s cheaper than the iPhone that can’t phone – and 19.9mm shorter.
I’m not a Newton nut who thinks the MessagePad is better than the iPad, or even an iDiot who’s sticking with iOS 6 because of the new font.
I will gladly switch to something that’s a different shape, does other things, and is called something else even if it’s not made by Apple – as long as it has a larger capacity than 160GB, works just as well, looks as good, and costs under £200. And is made by Apple.
But I’d rather that was a new iPod.