Death Of The iPod: The Real Reason Apple Killed Off The iPod
So, goodbye then, Apple iPod. This week, Apple announced that the last iPod standing, the iPod touch, has been discontinued, available only while stocks last.
Exactly why did Apple make this decision? After all, though sales were surely hardly stratospheric, a slowly moving production line of iPod touch models in six colors was likely still profitable. But I don’t think Apple chose to cancel the product line that made the brand more than just a computer company for financial reasons.
No, the truth about the iPod is that music had just got too big for it.
Of course, back in 2001, when the first iPod launched, it was all about freedom. Just as the Sony Walkman had freed us before so we could take our music with us wherever we went, now the iPod did the unthinkable and put 1,000 songs into a cute, pocketable device. No longer did we have to listen to the 10 songs on a retail cassette or CD, or twice that on a home-crafted mix tape.
And the arrival of the shuffle and playlist functions meant we weren’t limited to hearing the tracks in just one order any more. The Apple iPod wasn’t the first digital player but it was the best-looking, the coolest and by far the easiest to use. Just take a look at the image at the top of this post: the pleasantly tactile clickwheel, the shiny finish, even the onscreen font all have a gorgeous, classic look.
True, you still had to rip CDs or buy digital tracks and then download them to the iPod—and it’s easy to forget how much of a faff that was. But it was worth it.
As time went by, iPods got smaller (mini, shuffle, nano) and added color screens so you could even watch movies on them, like Wall-E. Capacities grew so you could store way more than 1,000 songs. DRM went out of the window, which helped. And building an iPod into the iPhone helped, too. It’s fair to say that having an iPod equivalent in every iPhone from the first up until the iPhone 13 Pro Max, made a separate device in your pocket less important.
But the big change came when Spotify arrived and meant you could stream music. Apple Music followed and suddenly you didn’t need to put all your music on your device to have access to it most of the time.
And now that streaming services have up to 79 million tracks, well, there’s no portable device in the world that can store much more than a fraction of that. So, yes, size is everything.
While the iPod touch does most of the things an iPhone can, it’s hard to get away from the idea that came with its launch, that it is all about music. Sure, it’s the most pocketable way to carry your music still, thanks to the four-inch display that was first seen on the iPhone 5, but the smallest iPhone, the iPhone SE third-generation, isn’t that much bigger and we’ve got used to bigger gadgets a long time ago.
So, yes, it had to go. Goodbye, iPod, I’ll miss you.