Thursday, September 11, 2014

R.I.P. iPod

Tuesday, 9 September 2014, was the day Apple pulled the plug on the non-computer product that redefined the company.

The iPod wasn't the first portable music player with a hard drive. It was, however, the first one that the public embraced in a big way. That's hard to remember today, when the company is far better known for phones and a still-unreleased watch, not to mention those by-now almost-afterthoughts, computers. But a music player is built into every one of those still-shipping (or soon-to-be-shipping) products because of the success of the iPod.

You probably don't lament the demise of the iPod, or rather, of the iPod Classic, the iPod with the hard drive. There are other iPods still being made, for one thing. More importantly, you probably have your music on a smartphone these days and the idea of a standalone music player is kind of weird, or at best quaint.

However, a few of us mourn the loss. Hard drives may seem quaint, but the storage costs are quite reasonable compared to flash memory. The iPhone 5s maxes out at 32 GB of storage, the iPhone 6 at 128 GB; the last iPod Classic held 160 GB. Plus, that iPod Classic was (forgive me for relying on memory: it has been a while since I looked at the price) somewhere in the range of $250-300, whereas the 64 GB iPhone 6 is $299 and the 128 GB iPhone 6 is $399. You can argue that you're buying more than a mere music player for that money, but sometimes all I want is a music player!

I have a large music library and sometimes I want as much of it with me as I can. I don't want to access my music over the network, as music subscription services require. On foot, on transit or even in a car, the network simply isn't accessible; even if it's available, it's often undesirable to take advantage of it (access is costly or untrustworthy).

In short, the iPod Classic still very much has a place in my life.

The Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik wrote a nice valedictory to the iPod Classic. He linked to three other elegies, only one of which, from Forbes' Hugh McIntyre, is worth reading.

I'm disappointed and unhappy that Apple has washed its hands of the iPod Classic, and in some respects, of me.

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