Why the loss of the iPod Classic is bad news for music fans
Apple’s latest keynote presentation saw technology enthusiasts clamouring for their first glimpse at the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch, the company’s first foray into the smartwatch market. But for all that the announcement saw Apple take another step into a shiny, digitised future, it also marked the end of their most iconic product. Take a look on the Apple Store today, and the iPod Classic is no longer listed in the iPod range.
The iPod Classic was the descendent of 2001’s original iPod: a metal rectangle, with a circular ‘click wheel’ and centre button. Most music fans have likely owned one of the several models released over the last 13 years. From 2007, it became the MP3 player of choice for many due to its sheer size – the sixth generation iPod Classic came with up to 160GB of storage. That’s more than enough space to contain the entire music collection of the most ardent music fans – even those who own the entire discographies of Elvis, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones, on top of hundreds of hours of sprawling prog-rock. It was the first product to truly commercialise the idea of being able to take all of your music with you, anywhere you go.
Without the iPod Classic, Apple’s iPod range starts to look a little lacking – the tiny iPod Shuffle holds 2GB of memory, the iPod Nano has 16GB, and the largest iPod Touch only goes up to 64GB. That’s almost 100GB less than the iPod Classic.
The iPod Touch is also an entirely different piece of technology to the Classic – for all intents and purposes, it’s an iPhone without the phone. Like the iPhone and iPad, it runs on Apple’s hand-held operating system iOS, it has a touch screen and a five megapixel camera, it holds apps and has a web browser. It also happens to play music, but you’d be forgiven for assuming that that’s one of its more minor functions. It’s not cheap either – as of writing, the 64GB iPod Touch costs £249.
For iPhone users then, owning an iPod Touch is largely pointless. But the iPod Classic is an entirely different piece of kit, and its discontinuation further shows Apple’s commitment to cloud technology – why would you need to carry your music library in your pocket when it’s always waiting for you online? While these options sound similar, they reflect a shift in the ownership of our music libraries – for now, the iPod Classic keeps the user in control of their own library. Storing our music in the cloud might mean that it’s always accessible, but will it still be ours?
Some iTunes users are already outraged that they’re now the not-so-proud owners of a U2 album that they didn’t want – the band’s new album Songs of Innocence was announced as a free download for iTunes users at the Apple Keynote, and immediately appeared in all users’ iCloud accounts.
The loss of the iPod click-wheel will also be felt. Its prominence on the iPod design is not only iconic, but it was a brilliant piece of design for being able to quickly and accurately scroll through a vast selection of music.
There’s always hope that Apple may announce a replacement for the iPod Classic that still prioritises music storage above all else – but for now, those who want to keep their complete iTunes library in their pocket would be advised to get hold of one before they disappear from shelves for good.
As posted on: The Telegraph