The iPod is heading for obsoletion

by Haadi Bakar
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Before smartphones became a mainstream product, the iPod was once the darling of the mobile technology industry.

The idea of holding a thousand songs in your pocket was intriguing in a time when downloading music via Napster was all the rage.

Backed by Apple’s now-iconic industrial design as well as an online music store with a strong catalogue, the iPod was massively popular for a good decade. Its popularity was so  massive it crushed the competition and pretty much everyone considered any portable device that plays music an iPod.

Apple still sells them today, although its sales figures on its music player business have shown a continued decline over the last half decade. The company has shifted its focus on its iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch business.

We’ve all expected this to happen: the once popular portable music player would eventually become obsolete and replaced by the smartphone.

Today, no one is buying a new iPod. We get a music player app preinstalled in our phones, and its far more convenient to just carry around one device that does everything, including listening to our favourite songs.

But what further drive the iPod towards extinction is the fact that people don’t listen to music the same way as we used to. The younger consumers are now streaming their music from services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube. The idea of purchasing and downloading music is slowly becoming an old pastime.

However, there is still a very small group of people who like the idea of having a separate device to hold their massive music collection, and the iPod still holds itself well in this regard.

I for one, am a long-time digital music hoarder with nearly 50GB of music in my collection, and I’m never much a fan of streaming my music. Not yet, at least.

I like to carry around my entire music collection where ever I go, hence I still carry around an iPod Classic from 2009 (discontinued since 2015). I’ve also owned a third generation iPod Touch from 2010, an iPod Video from 2006, and a couple of iPod Shuffles.

Although I could store all my music on a phone with the highest storage capacity possible, I like my music player to be separated from the phone just fine.

As smartphones have become this multi-functional pocket device, that tends to take a huge hit on battery. Having a separate media player means I don’t have to drain all my phone’s power to enjoy my music or movies.

Often a dedicated music player such as the iPod has a much better level of endurance than most smartphones, as it only does one thing: play music.

The iPod Touch is currently Apple’s top-of-the-line music player, first introduced after the release of the first iPhone 10 years ago. It has been marketed as the iPhone without the Phone, having all the innards and tech of the smartphone, minus cellular functionalities.

As a media player, the iPod Touch is still unbeatable. High-quality fit and finish aside, Apple is still leading the online digital media front with its App Store, and also its seamless integration between Apple devices is still unmatched by its competitors.

Apple’s iTunes is still my go-to application to manage my music library, and it syncs with the iPod with very minimal effort. While others may prefer the manual drag-and-drop affair, I like my entire music library synced automatically.

The latest iPod Touch is Apple’s sixth release. It’s powered by Apple’s A8 processor which is essentially the same chip that powered the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus two years ago. This iPod Touch also rocks 1GB of RAM and an M8 motion coprocessor so that it could handle more graphically demanding apps and games.

This iPod Touch packs an 8-megapixel rear camera which can shoot photos in bursts as well as 120 frames-per-second slow-motion video.

And topping at 128GB of storage, this is the iPod Touch that should entice the music hoarders. Prior to the sixth generation, the older iPod Touch had a maximum capacity of only 64GB.

The new iPod Touch still retains the small 4-inch ‘Retina Display’ screen which is also the same screen size used on Apple’s iPhone SE.  It also lacks TouchID, assumingly to cut cost.

This is the best iPod coming from Apple, but it’s not going to appeal to many consumers today except for the true iPod fans and digital music collectors like myself.

Meanwhile, the iPod Nano and the iPod Shuffle have not been getting a refresh for years, and it’s highly unlikely Apple’s going to release new Nanos and Shuffles in the foreseeable future.

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