8 reasons Apple would be crazy to kill the iPod

Is the iPod really living on borrowed time? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Is the iPod really living on borrowed time? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

A funny thing happened on the way to the iPod’s funeral. When we laid out the reasons we think the music player is nearing the end of the line, we clearly struck a nerve.

A lengthy and fascinating conversation broke out in the page’s comments section, on Facebook and on Twitter as Cult of Mac readers articulated all the reasons Apple shouldn’t kick the iPod to the curb. Reasons ranged from forward-looking strategies for expanding the iPod’s appeal to old-fashioned love for a perennial favorite product.

Here are highlights from eight of the best:

  1. The iPod should live on … as a game machine. “iPod Touch with rebranding would fall perfectly into that category,” said Daniel Szeitz. RobertPerez1 called for a processor boost and a targeted acquisition to speed the evolution: “[Apple] needs to drop in the A7 and make it the ultimate gaming device. [They] need to buy Nintendo and take over Mario and Luigi.”
  2. Some want a small portable music player (and don’t want to shell out for an iWatch to get one). “What about those who can’t afford the new iWatch?” Said The BlackerSheep. “Do they have to buy the cheap iPhone to be able to stick with the brand and then put up with the disadvantages [that come with its larger size]? Put in that position, I’m afraid I’d switch brands. I wouldn’t spend my hard-earned money on a product I don’t really want.”
  3. Forget CarPlay — the iPod is the perfect commuting soundtracker. “Personally, I want to be able to have all my music hooked up to my car audio system when I’m on the road, so having a 64G iPod in my car is ideal,” said Walter Cooke. “I have no need for apps or other stuff — just the songs please! And I’m certainly not going to plug and unplug my iPhone in the car, or leave it in the car — my iPhone stays with me. So the iPod and iPhone can and do serve very different functions in my day-to-day life.”
  4. Streaming music isn’t quite there yet. “Streaming music is convenient, but not always appropriate,” said Nino. “What if you have no internet connectivity? What if you surpass your data plan’s allowance? … There’s also the whole audiophile community generally favoring offline music over streaming. Why? Quality. With offline music, you are free to rip whatever you like, in the format/bit rate you desire and listen to it. You can even rip FLAC (lossless audio) and listen to that on your iPod, provided that you get an app that reads FLAC (CanOpener is a great option). Good luck with streaming; that’s not possible. If the song you want isn’t there or you want higher quality, you’re out of luck. Offline music will always surpass streaming in my opinion.”
  5. Cut back on iPod models rather than killing them all. “The iPod line [should] be reduced to one or two products only,” said UZ. “Maybe an iPod touch with storage options that match the [iPod Classic], and a cheap iPod shuffle/nano…. It makes business sense to reduce options in a declining market, in order to make more money from fewer products. And it makes consumer sense for those who still want a disconnected portable music player.”
  6. The iPod is great for kids. “My daughter has a number of friends who use an iPod as a messaging device when they are too young for a phone,” said bobajoul. “Keep it going — it has its place.”
  7. The iPod is a gateway drug into the Apple ecosystem. “The iPod is an entry-level device to get consumers addicted to Apple and iOS,” said Art Swirsky. “Keeping it is a very inexpensive way to get more customers to buy more and more expensive Apple devices in the future.”
  8. The iPod touch is great for photos. “I still store a lot of music on my iPod classic but my iPod touch is where I store photos from my iPhoto Library and play with photo apps,” said annastine. “It is useful as a portfolio and although I will eventually bump up to some kind of pad, the smaller [iPod] is easy to carry and less obtrusive when taking a quick picture on the fly. The iPod touch camera sucks but when used in conjunction with stitch and paint apps, the results are fun.”

Do you agree or disagree with the above? If there’s an iPod use we haven’t covered, or you think Apple would still be better off pulling the plug on its portable music player, drop us a line in the comments below.

  • Jack

    It should be an iPhone in a different housing and without the cellular capability, but be otherwise identical. Same camera.

    • suitjackets

      Then the price would be almost the same, and I wouldn’t buy a $600 16GB iPod touch. :-)

  • ianthetechman

    I think apple should 100 percent keep some sort of music only device they should definitely keep the Nano many people including myself use the Nano while running and exercising.

  • Andy Colley

    iPod classic, do I have too say anymore, discuss!

    • Judith Boyes

      I ;have three iPod Classics, one in the car, one in my bedroom and one attached to Bose speakers in the Lounge, wouldn’t be without any of them I also have a radio in the kitchen with an iPod dock on it so I can take one of them in there with me when necessary and I”m 70 years old.

  • Bart Paden

    The “touch wheel” is still an extremely powerful UI/UX tool.

  • Cody R. Barnett

    iPod’s are also great for the gym or in environments that aren’t appropriate for an iPhone. Yes I could take my iPhone with me for a run, but the break from emails, texts, etc is why I enjoy running so much!

    • mattack1

      You could use some self control.

  • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

    Apple would never put a top-of-the-line processor into an iPod. It would mess up their profit margins. The iPod is like a second- or third-class citizen to the iPhone and obviously ranks a lot lower than the iPad.

    • RoboBonobo

      The iPod Touch probably wouldn’t get a refresh until the A8 is released, so by that time the A7 wouldn’t be the top of the line anymore. They usually put last generation’s processor in the iPod Touch, when they refresh it. If they do refresh it, I’ll expect it to be built around the A7.

  • imajoebob

    Keep the iPod classic, with a 64 or 128GB hard disk for music fans (and fans of actual tactile controls), and keep the touch with 64 or 128GB and a GREAT camera. The classic is the ultimate music player, the touch the ultimate multimedia pocket device.

    Despite having owned Macs and iPods for more than a decade, I DON’T own an iPhone. Why not? I’ve got an iPod classic (video, more precisely) for music, a great Nikon DSLR that blows away any phone camera, and a Mac laptop that runs circles around any phone or iPad. And I have a good quality $50 Android and pay 35 bucks a month for Virgin Mobile. Equivalent iPhone service would cost more than double that, and provides no added value. While the iPhone does a lot, it does little as well as dedicated devices. An iPhone is just not a good value for me.

    • mattack1

      Umm, virginmobile.com says $35/month for iPhone. What are you getting on an android phone that that $35 plan doesn’t have for iphone?

      • imajoebob

        It’s a FIFTY DOLLAR android. An iPhone will cost 10 times that. So I’m getting $450 in disposable income that would otherwise go to Apple.

  • Randy The Molester

    I’d like to see the classic in 64 or 128 (or more) flash options, thinner with a touch screen that you can switch from the nano type home screen or a touch classic option.

  • Zachary Donovan

    Okay, here is my opinion and I’ll keep it simple. (I say keep BUT do away with minor/older products)

    KEEP:
    1.) iPod Touch
    2.) iPod Nano
    (But enhance with MORE MEMORY & REDUCE THE PRICE)

    Do away with:
    1.) iPod Classic
    2.) iPod Shuffle

    The reason we loved the iPod Classic was it’s once innovative capture of our minds from Steve Jobs and it’s magnificent memory capacity but it’s been almost 13 years since it’s design release. (Memory Capacity can be increased in the iPod Touch and iPod Nano).

    Now for the iPod Shuffle, yet it is a magnificent little piece of technology for the physically fit and for kids but it’s only grants you music with limited capability of accessibility and it has a very small battery. This can easily be replaced with an iPod Nano.

    • UZ

      Spot on. The touch has the added benefit of gaming and apps, and can be rebranded as the Air. The nano could easily merge with the shuffle and become the “new” mini. Then it will also align with the iPad names.

  • Troy Haliwell

    I still use my trusted iPod Video and have for years now. I have no need for an iPhone at all, so for me that faithful iPod will remain my only portable media player.

    My cell is a cheap Samsung Android one and my phone only costs me $10 a month. I rarely use it for anything other than a phone call and occasional text message. I love to hate cell phones in general. So again, no need for an iPhone.

    Now I know Apple makes no additional money from me. I have my G4, a G5, an iMac and a MacBookPro along with the iPod. Nothing I use them for exceeds their ability so at this point in my life, I am done buying from Apple. Until something dies that is.

  • Frans Albertus Hanekom

    Ok, so I agree and disagree. I own a 160GB iPod Classic and a iPhone 5S. When hitting the long road it is great to have my entire iTunes library in my hand which saves my iPhone’s battery life. But when quickly jumping in my car to work or to friends my iPhone connects via bluetooth and streams iTunes Radio and if I’m tired of that I play my favourite playlists from my Phone. It is easier when on the go all of the time but I agree, the iPod comes in handy. I vote keep it alive because it is awesomely legendary! But streaming music via the internet or bluetooth is the future.

    • Gary Eichelberger

      agree, for the long haul, espcially to non-connected regions, classic could not be better. A web- connected device however is also handy under certain circumstances, as you outline. For me, a power adapter and a dashmount cradle means I have “homemade” CarPlay by slapping my ipad into place, with one window completely dedicated to CarPlay like capabilities, including several streaming media services, maps, email and text apps (usable via Siri) as well as phone call app (Talkatone) piped to the car speakers via a short 3.5 plug to AUX in.

  • disqus_sQrLLxg5IF

    I still use my various iPods all the time, particularly the iPod classic when I am commuting to work. I wish Apple would come up with an audiophile player, but that probably won’t happen as most people would not appreciate the difference between a compressed recording and an lossless format

  • http://batman-news.com CHRIS

    I bought an iPod Classic and liked it so much that I bought (2) more (one was stolen, the other for my daughter) the best thing about the iPod Classic is the storage capacity 160G WOW, No other device on the planet has this much storage for music and movies. I have a 3000 song music library that I carry with all the time and I also have 40 movies on the iPod. The movies are great when I have the kids with me. If and when those idiots at Apple decide to discontinue the ipod classic, I will be less inclined to purcahse more Apple products, as one of the previous commentors stated, the iPod is a great way to encourage users to purchase Apple products. Please do not discontiune the iPod.

    • LordQuad

      I’m with Chris, as well as most of you here. My ‘comeback’ to Apple was in 2002/3. I owned an Apple IIe in ’85/6. Graduated, moved on to a 286/Win 3.1 in 91/2. Windows through Vista (from 3.1). iPod Classic, black n white 20GB model @ Costco sometime around 2002 or ’03. It had 2,600 songs. Lived in my ’04 Dodge truck that I bought in ’03 until this past winter. Some kid stole it and my change storage tray from the truck. Not my Revo sunglasses. Left the Passport radar detector and the entire sound system (Alpine. Amps, JL subs, separates in front and rear), and a half dozen ‘other’ odds and sods like my checkbook credit card….doesn’t matter the list. It’s the reason I say ‘kid’. Shiny iPod. Dead of night. Imagine his surprise, turning it on to find out it’s a black n white, scratched to hell, hardly legible any longer…and filled with Deep Purple, Dylan, Cream, Blind Faith and other assorted Clapton projects. Sabbath, ACDC, & Zep libraries. Lol. Couldn’t play videos. Couldn’t play games. Couldn’t read the damn thing BUT under the dash, ‘embilicalled’ to the head unit under the dash, I had those libraries in decent bit quality ALWAYS with me. I live and have for thirty years in Alaska. It worked like a champ til the day that little pinhead pinched it. To him, it was (maybe her) it was next to worthless. To me, almost a decade old (it may have been 2004)…10 winters never EVER leaving the truck. Never broke….that’s incredible for a ‘spinner’ (HDD). I immediately bought a pair of 160 classics a month ago @ Wal mart and refreshed those libraries with FLAC rips and I’m considering another pair. Apple would be silly to rid themselves of the iPod. It was my gateway. All of our family and my business computers are OSx. Desk and laptops, iOS for pads and phones. The iPod is STILL a Fortune 500 on its OWN! Apple needs to refine the line, as others have suggested. As flash/NAND comes down, replace the higher cap classics with faster (more reliable? Hard to say for my experience;)) storage and possibly LTE radios installed we can use with our carrier if we choose. That would make the iPod a streamer AND offline player. Pairing with head units or leaving the iPhone in the rig is a no go.

    • Gary Eichelberger

      The Classic is llife changing for me and many others, especially music fans, although it is so much more. Keep it. Until there is a better high capacity option, it is just too good. Home Videos, music library, podcasts, photo collection, Tv shows and Movies – all in your pocket whereever you go.. if you travel regularly, especially in non-connected areas, it is almost a neccesity of life. Pair it with the Apple AV cable to connect easily to sound system or television, or both, to really appreciate what a marvel it still is.

  • Mohit Chhabra

    Apple just needs a new marketing strategy. No rash steps are needed. Just a few tweaks here and there and a better strategy to attract more people. I am eternally in love with my iPod Classic. Nothing Apple has ever made comes close to that incredible piece of tech. I think most will agree that the major reason for decrease in iPod demand has been due to MASSIVE iPhone demand. It does decrease the need for an iPod, objectively speaking.
    But even then, Apple shouldn’t even think of killing iPods.

  • jdt1986

    Apple should design and create a final iteration of the iPod Classic (flash memory based with 64GB and 128GB options), make sure it is sold packaged with a data and sound compatible dock adapter (so it can be used with both old and new iPod docks, depending on which dock the new design has built in) and then ensure that they keep this new iteration around for the considerable future (10+ years). There is still a call for the iPod Classic, for several reasons:

    1. The Classic design is iconic

    2. The Classic is simple to use (intuitive scroll wheel, plug in and easily sync with iTunes, no apple account required to use the device AT ALL)

    3. The Classic is cheaper than other iPods, which are primarily touch screen based

    4. The battery life is far superior to the touch screen based iPods

    5. There are still many people who want/need at least 64GB (as a bare minimum) of space available on their music device

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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