The iPod is a relic of an era gone by, and Apple should put it out of its misery
The Apple iPod is over two decades old. It is older than some of you reading this article. The first model went on sale back in 2001, as a device aimed at music enthusiasts who want to conveniently listen to their tunes on the go. With 5GB of storage, users could store up to 1,000 MP3 files in this $399 compact masterpiece. At the time, the iPod filled a gap in people’s lives. It catered to an increasing need to access music in a hassle-free manner. And that’s how innovative inventions are born — by providing a tailored solution to a problem. However, needs change with time, and as a result, the greatest of innovations sometimes outlive their utility. They still function in the exact same way, and that’s primarily the issue. As we progress, a product either evolves with us or loses its relevance. The iPod doesn’t belong to this era, and Apple should put the last nail in its coffin and stop selling it finally.
The iPod has become Apple’s neglected child
What is that, Apple, and what is it doing on a device released in 2019? We haven’t seen the Touch ID-less Home Button on an iPhone since 2013. Six years later, the Cupertino tech giant decided that it is still acceptable to include it on an iPod. We’re not asking for Face ID on the iPod lineup — considering it’s not a high-end device. However, Touch ID is the bare minimum in this day and age. The fact that the company went for that prehistoric button on a 2019 product only proves that it’s barely giving the iPod any attention. It’s a half-done homework submitted only for the sake of refreshing the lineup — a cash cow, basically.
For a device that is supposed to mainly act as a media storage, you’d think Apple would include an abundance of SSD. Well, the base model of the latest iPod Touch 7 includes — drum roll, please — a whole 32GB. And don’t forget, the 32GB tag is for marketing purposes. The net storage is actually much lower, as the system files of iOS occupy a few gigabytes.
Let’s move on to the processor. Another drum roll, please. The iPod Touch 7 is powered by the… A10 Fusion chip. Apple implemented a 2016 SoC in a 2019 device that it continues to sell in 2022. That’s a six-year-old processor on a smart product it sells today. How that is acceptable is beyond my comprehension.
The list of unexciting technical specifications goes on, including but not limited to:
- Bluetooth 4.1
- 4-inch display
- 1136-by-640 resolution
- 1.2MP front camera
- Really thick bezels
A wise person once said “Acknowledging our faults is the first step on the road to redemption.” If we’re in denial about a mess up we’ve done, we won’t actively work on fixing it. Similarly, if we’re conscious of it, we can take action to patch it up eventually. Apple is aware that the iPod is an embarrassment to it at this point. If you head to its online store, you will notice that the iPod section has been removed from the top bar. To find the iPod Touch 7’s product page, you will have to head to apple.com/ipod. The company doesn’t display it as a badge of honor (as it should), yet it doesn’t take it down and discontinue it either. Removing the dedicated section is a step in the right direction, nonetheless, but continuing to sell it takes it back.
Apart from removing the iPod section from the online store, Apple doesn’t even bother to update its product page with accurate information. A few days ago, users pointed out online that the screenshot of the Apple Music app on the iPod’s product page shows an outdated version of the app that belongs to an older iOS version. The company has now updated the page with the new screenshot — but not in all regions. Had users not brought it up, it would probably just be neglected for who knows how long. Another example is the Technical Specifications page of the iPod Touch 7. At the time of writing, Apple still mentions iOS 14 as the operating system it runs — even though this iPod supports iOS 15. The Cupertino tech giant can’t expect users to take a product seriously if the company itself doesn’t.
The iPod is now the Ugly Duckling of smart devices
Designed by Apple in California, disassembled by iPhone
Once upon a time, phones were phones. Nowadays phones aren’t just phones — they’re smartphones. They’re used for browsing the internet, playing games, listening to music, watching TV, and, well, making phone calls too sometimes. The iPod Touch is pretty much a low-end, 4-inch iPhone that lacks cellular capabilities. So… why buy an iPod Touch when you could just buy an iPhone SE and use it without a SIM card? I understand that the latest iPod costs a mere $199 in the US and that the iPhone SE 3 costs around double that. However, for the tech the former packs, $199 is, in fact, an overpriced tag. If a user is on a very tight budget, grabbing a refurbished or second-hand iPhone would be a better deal than getting that iPod. That’s why Apple should kill the iPod already and fully focus on iOS (iPhoneOS?) and the iPhone itself.
At some point, carrying an iPod around was the cool thing to do. You would find teenagers and young adults using theirs with wired earphones as they walk in the park or during recesses. Now, take a moment and think hard — when was the last time you saw a person holding an iPod in public? iPods are going extinct, and for very valid reasons. What once used to be trendy has now become an outdated mark of shame. That’s because using an iPod today doesn’t make sense — considering the other product options people have.
iPad is the new iPod
This might sound unusual, but has it occurred to you that the iPad is arguably the iPod’s biggest rival today? If you’re wondering why, the entry-level iPad costs only $120 more and has:
- A larger screen with a higher resolution — makes more sense for media consumption that now has heavier weightage of video content.
- A Home Button with Touch ID.
- iPadOS and its additional features rather than iOS.
- The A13 Bionic chip, instead of the outdated A10 Fusion.
- A longer life expectancy when it comes to software and hardware support.
- Optional cellular capabilities.
Taking all of these points into consideration, it doesn’t make sense to buy an iPod for playing games, listening to music, and watching TV when the iPad costs a bit more and is significantly better at performing all of the mentioned tasks. Yes, you do lose out on portability for some bit as the sizing between the devices makes it obvious that only one of them is intended to be put into your pocket. But beyond that, the iPad is the new iPod, replacing the iPod as a de-facto choice for practically all of the use cases that were primarily reserved for it.
Even the Apple Watch beats it
Remember the tiny iPod Shuffle? It’s compact, handy, and gets the job done. So maybe Apple shouldn’t kill the iPod product lineup after all, right? Except that there is a new “iPod Shuffle” in town — it’s called the Apple Watch, and it lives on your wrist. It can store music for offline listening, and you can stream online music on cellular models. This allows you to keep your iPhone at home if you want. Just connect your AirPods or any other Bluetooth earbuds, and you’re good to go. You also get to track your activity, record your workouts, and do much more through this “iPod Shuffle”. Yes, battery life remains a concern so it’s not a perfect replacement. But it is a much more versatile replacement, going above and beyond the vision of an iPod Shuffle.
Storing Streaming is today’s cool
When the iPod was still a fresh product, storing music was the norm (rather than streaming it). Today, I know very few people who still buy their own music and sync them manually to their iPods/iPhones. Most of the users in my social circle have switched to streaming services. And that’s understandable because it’s just a small fee that gives you access to all of the old and newly-released music. Better yet, your data is stored in the cloud, so you won’t need to copy any playlists, files, or preferences when moving to a new device. It’s just so much more convenient and seamless.
As a result, we no longer need to buy a dedicated device to fill up with music. We can download a few playlists to our iPhones and stream the rest of our libraries directly from the cloud. The rest of the iPhone’s storage remains available for apps, photos/videos, and documents. The iPod wasn’t just a media player — it was also a hard drive for music, in a way. Streaming makes it completely unnecessary in this era.
When you buy and sync your own music, you just listen in your own world. And that was how mostly everyone enjoyed music back in the day. However, this is changing now. Listening to music has become a social activity in many ways. People share their listening activities, public playlists, and top artists on streaming services. They also post their yearly music statistics to social media for their friends to view (and judge). Apple even baked SharePlay into its operating systems as a way for users to listen to music (and do more) together — when apart. And Spotify lets users create Blends that mixes and matches music tastes within a combined playlist. Music is now social.
While these features are supported on the iPod Touch 7, the iPod as a branding is associated with music purchasing, manual syncing, and offline listening. In a lot of ways, it was music in an anti-social format. Times are changing, and the branding hasn’t really kept up and evolved even if the product has.
It is said that “you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. The iPod was indeed a hero during a certain phase in our modern history. However, it has become (or is becoming) today’s villain. Apple failed to keep this device in sync with our needs and use cases. There’s no selling point for it apart from its low price — and even that is arguable, considering its dated specifications. The Cupertino giant should do its customers a service and just give up on it and put it out of its misery, as that’s already long overdue.
Do you think Apple should discontinue the iPod? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section below.