On the death of the iPod Classic

Mark Vincent Villa

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On the death of the iPod Classic
Mark Villa remembers the iPod Classic and thinks about how things won't be the same without it on store shelves

MANILA, Philippines – Apple has always been at the front of pop culture technology, thanks to Steve Job’s great vision and their ability to create. Search the net for their innovations and you will likely find a list of what Apple’s done.

Apple maintained a foothold on the paths they made. Macbooks and Mac Pros still exist, though in slightly different forms than their first iterations. With the iPod and its technology, however, things are different.

On September 9. Apple launched the Apple Watch and two new iPhones. At the same time, they released a new website design to accommodate the new products. One item, however, was absent in the new layout.

The iPod ‘Classic’ met its demise that day, as Apple quietly pulled the plug on it, without anything to replace it. Apple has not resurrected a discontinued product in its product history, and this may force many Classic owners to move on.

The original iPod had a good 13-year run and dominated the music player market, setting the standard for more than a decade.

Before it, we had cassettes and CDs. We had to bring multiple tapes or a mini CD storage book to listen to music. Apple eliminated all that when they introduced the iPod in 2001, with a light, compact body that carried massive storage capabilities.

CLASSIC. The iPod classic 6th Gen (left) and 5th Gen (Right). Image from TonyTheTiger on Wikimedia Commons.


The first iPod I got was a 30GB model, already in the 5th generation released in 2005. Back then, the standard bitrate of .mp3 files (the common music file format) was around 160-200 kilobits per second (kbps).

My music choice isn’t as wide back then, leaving a lot of storage space on my iPod, which was a good thing. Since not everyone could afford the iPod, I started putting friends’ music into the device so I could share the device with them. It worked both ways too, as I got to discover music I wouldn’t have normally experienced if they didn’t request it.

Imagine: I would be sharing my iPod with a friend, with each of us using one earbud as the music shuffled on my device.

The iPod also simplified the party scene, as it lessened the need for disc changes.

My iPod also doubled as a mass-storage device. Who needs a USB stick when you can use your iPod to transfer files? Just put files in it the way you would other normal storage-devices and other computers will be able to read it even if they don’t have iTunes.

The coming end

Apple added the ‘Classic’ suffix to it when the company introduced the iPod Touch in 2007. In hindsight, that may have been a clear message of its eventual end.

The 6th generation of the device was available in 80GB ($249) and 160GB ($349) versions. A year later, Apple discontinued the earlier releases and announced a slimmer version of the device, offering a 120GB version for $249. In 2009, the Classic made its last headline when the 160GB profile returned in a slim package and retailed for the same $249, dropping the 120GB version from the market.

From then on, it was an inevitable outcome waiting to happen. Apple kept upgrading the iPod Touch and experimented with the Nano, while the Classic was pushed to the side.

Former Apple Senior VP for iPod and ‘iPod Father’ Tony Fadell said they knew as far back as 2003 or 2004 that streaming would be the one to end the Classic, calling it the ‘celestial jukebox in the sky’. He also stated that people who bought iPods started using hand-me-down smartphones for the same purpose.

With the advent of apps and a new era of tech, the Classic was clearly on its way out. It didn’t have a camera, WiFi, touch interface, or apps. It was already ancient in a blink of an eye.

Companies started making entertainment devices and smartphones, subverting the ‘music player’ category. It was not streaming, but rather the technological trends that killed the Classic.

Without an heir

My Classic died on me four years after I got it and was replaced by a second-hand 160GB 6th gen. It only lasted for a year due to an accident.

I did not replace it with another iPod – because nothing can replace it. The slimmer 6th generation of the device that was available at the time seems too expensive for something that isn’t even innovative anymore.

I don’t want to replace it with a smartphone or an iPod Touch. I don’t want my music to be interrupted by a call, text or any kind of notification. A multi-use device runs out of power long before I get home.

As someone who came from the Classic, I’m used to having my full catalog on hand – from Metallica, Machine Head, BB King, and Eric Clapton to the likes of Morgan James, Birdy, and Mindy Gledhill. I like having it all in shuffle.

The Classic will be sorely missed. I never expected to treasure those days when I could load whole albums into the iPod. Now I constantly have to choose specific songs from my collection and into my old phone just to keep things ‘fresh’.

With the 64GB Touch having a price drop last June, there is an anticipation of a 6th generation device. But until they can come up with a large-capacity, long-lasting, compact music player, I’ll be sticking to my beat-up phone with a 16GB microSD card. – Rappler.com

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