Death of the iPod?

September 28, 2011

September is the month when Apple usually makes announcements about its new line of iPods. That hasn’t happened this year, and I am dismayed to discover that rumours about the demise of the iPod are swirling. Apparently it is possible that Apple may axe both the iPod Shuffle and the iPod Classic this year, with only the iPod Nano and the “poor man’s iPhone”, the iPod Touch, left standing.

I resisted buying an iPod for a long time, mainly because I was already listening to a lot of music, and I thought it was important to preserve certain times and places as pools of quiet. A portable music player would have made that more difficult.

Then I got married, and had kids. (Hallelujah!) These days, practically my only opportunities to listen to music are when I am out walking, or in transit somewhere. An iPod has made it possible for me to keep listening to the music I love, and I am thankful for that. I suppose that I have also grown fond of the little blighter.

Mine is an iPod Classic — 80 GB capacity, which has proved far too little for my entire collection, but adequate for an ample sample — and so is one of the models rumoured to be targeted for removal from Apple’s roster. I must register a protest. As far as I can tell, none of the other iPod models suit me. The capacity of the Nano is too little, not to mention that the screen is too small, not to mention that it has an annoying name, and not to mention that the thing can fall out of one’s pocket without one noticing — as my wife’s four sequential Nanos can well attest. The iPod Touch is a possibility, I suppose, but its capacity is again smaller than I would like, it is quite expensive, and it is cluttered up with a bunch of stuff that does not interest me.

(The demise of the iPod Shuffle, on the other hand, seems to me an occasion for quiet rejoicing. It is a monstrous device: a music player for people who don’t like music. Good riddance.)

Apple is apparently banking on people switching to the iPhone, but a phone is not really convertible with an iPod. For one thing, it is far more expensive, not only initially but month by month. And some of us do not want a cell phone, much less a smart phone. I just want a good quality portable music player. It seems, however, judging from Apple’s sales data, that mine is a minority view.

For now, my iPod is working fine, and I can continue to enjoy it. But when the time comes to replace it, my options are less attractive than they once were.

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10 Responses to “Death of the iPod?”

  1. Mac Says:

    Yesterday I saw an article about this illustrated with a picture of a hammer smashing an iPod. A very disturbing image.

    I have one, too, and love it. I’m not sure I ever would have bought one for myself, but my wife and some combination of the children bought me one. It’s one of the earlier ones, with only 20g (only!) capacity, but I rarely come very close to filling it up. I find that scrolling through everything gets to be too much trouble past a certain point. The battery is still holding up pretty well, so I’m not in need of a replacement. Perhaps the Nano will still be available when that time comes.

    I have tried to use it while walking but find that I’m somehow uncomfortable, a little tense, walking around in this bubble of sound. If I turn it up loud enough to hear everything clearly feel like I’m not hearing surrounding sounds adequately. If I don’t, I’m sort of straining to hear.

  2. cburrell Says:

    It is encouraging to hear that yours — clearly an older model than mine — is still working fine. I am in no hurry to move to a new model, especially now. Does yours have video capability? Although it is sort of sad to say so, most of the operas I watch (and occasionally write about) I watch on my little iPod screen.

    I have a pretty good set of earbuds which give good sound insulation from outside noise. I guess that would not appeal to you — as tending to create a sound bubble — but I like it because it means that the music itself does not have to be played loudly to be heard clearly. I do not want to damage my ears.

  3. Vince Says:

    I think that Apple is trying to move customers over to its iCloud to store their music, videos, etc., so that they can access whatever content they have over the internet and play it on their iPod touch or iPhone or iPad. I’m sure more people are willing to buy new touches and iPhones than new iPods since they are easier to upgrade for Apple. You can’t upgrade an iPod classic like you can’t upgrade a pair of jeans. Plus, Apple will be able to charge for their cloud service.

  4. cburrell Says:

    Yes, I can see the benefits for Apple; the benefits for me are harder to discern.

    iCloud — which, as far as I know, is not available yet in Canada — is another irritating idea. When it is rolled out, I believe that only 5 GB of online storage will be available for free; after that I pay. I have about 400 GB in my iTunes library, the vast majority ripped from CDs that I bought before iTunes was a glimmer in the eye of Mr. Jobs. Undoubtedly there will be an annual fee levied for the storage I would need. Furthermore, if my music is all online, it presumably means that I have to download it to listen to it. I think that is the idea. But that uses bandwidth, which I also have to pay for (to my ISP). Not to mention that just to get my library into ‘the cloud’ will take months of uploading. (I have no confidence that the ‘iTunes Match’ service will work with my largely-classical collection. Certainly iTunes does a thoroughly dismal job of correctly identifying the artwork for the discs in my collection.)

    All in all, it’s a bad idea as far as I’m concerned. I intend to avoid it for a good long time. I sure sound like a curmudgeon.

  5. Vince Says:

    I also intend to avoid it. I have an 80 GB iPod classic I purchased used from craigslist and it’s been working just fine. I also use it to watch Susskind lectures downloaded from iTunesU. If I needed to stream my library from the cloud, I’d do it using Google Music, which is free. But carrying around my iPod suits me just fine.

  6. cburrell Says:

    Susskind? Are they the same lectures as I noted were available from Academic Earth? I’d like to sit through those too.

    I haven’t heard of Google Music. I’ll take a look. Probably the upload problem would be prohibitive.

  7. Vince Says:

    Uploading 400GB of music should take a very long time! I believe Susskind’s lectures available on Academic Earth are also available on iTunesU, but iTunesU has many more lectures. iTunesU may even have the complete set of those Stanford lectures. I wish I had time to go through them all. Too many papers and interesting blog entries to read!

  8. Filia Artis Says:

    We got a nifty little iPod with our Macbook a few years ago. I wanted to load some CDs so that my car could have a compact little music collection. Even bought one of those radio broadcaster things so that it would work with our stereos.

    What happened? Loading music onto the darn thing was so complicated and time consuming that we got a bunch of stuff on there and then lost patience. Used it probably five times and haven’t been able to find it or it’s broadcaster around the house/car for the past 6 months or so.

    I guess I’m just gonna have to stick with the iOldSkool …My 1980s yellow Sony tape player Walkman gets more use than the iPod around here…

  9. cburrell Says:

    It is true that creating and maintaining the iTunes (or whatever application one uses) can be awfully time consuming. I spent months ripping all my CDs, and even now adding new music takes quite a lot of time. I can see why that can be a deterrent.

    I also used one of those FM transmitters for a long time, but eventually I got sick of it. The sound quality was good enough for spoken word recordings, but not for music. I also found that it was really hard to find a radio frequency not already occupied by a station. A few months ago I ditched the transmitter and got a proper iPod car integration kit. Now I get high quality sound, and no interference. It’s nice.

    Do you really have a yellow cassette-playing Walkman?

    • Filia Artis Says:

      Yes, yes I do. And you know what’s even cooler? I won it by eating a popsicle when I was about 9 years old. Those were the days of Popsicle Pete contests and my popsicle stick said I could trade it in for a free walkman. It didn’t lie.

      My first cassette was a Simple Minds “album” that I also won in a youth magazine contest.

      I continue to enter, and win, random contests frequently.


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