Should Apple kill off the iPod Classic?

Sections: Apple Business, iPod, iPod classic, iPod Family / Legacy

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Apple’s iPhone and iPad are miles ahead of the competition, and every year we see more and more powerful improvements to these lines. However, the iPod line is left  in the dust with each quarter that goes by. As a matter of fact, that might be a reason why iPod sales have been declining each year for the past couple of years. It might simply be that Apple doesn’t see the iPod as a key component of their revenue any longer, but keeps it around because it still has the lion’s share of the MP3 player market (something that is also in decline).

Even with the aging iPod line, Apple has still managed to crank out several more iPods, including the multi-touch iPod nano, the smaller and lighter iPod shuffle, and the aluminum iPod touch. The only iPod that has yet to see any improvements is the iPod Classic. The Classic was introduced in its original form back in 2001 when Apple launched the iPod revolution with the tagline “A 1,000 songs in your pocket.” Since then, the capacity and design of the Classic has changed; the latest generation sporting a whopping 160GB of storage in addition to an aluminum and stainless steel design.

Unfortunately, the Classic still uses the click-wheel, which now looks like it is from a different era of Apple devices. As a matter of fact, Apple doesn’t even include the Classic in ads and literature on its website anymore, aside from its own dedicated page. Considering this, one has to stop and wonder if Apple should kill off the iPod Classic altogether. This is something I–and many others–have been saying through several of Apple’s iPod and other music related events.

Every time Steve Jobs or, more recently, Tim Cook took the stage, I always assumed Apple was going to finally hang up the old Classic and make way for a new product. That day has yet to come, but I think that 2014 might be the year that Apple finally kills the iPod Classic. It makes perfect sense for the company to do so, especially because this is the last remaining iPod with a click-wheel, it is unable to make use of the App Store, and 160GB of storage on an iPod touch is now more possible than ever before. I think Apple will introduce a 160GB iPod touch, especially because it skipped a refresh this year; we might even see an A7 chip and better cameras in addition to the increased storage. Also, Apple is rumored to be introducing a new smart watch line, dubbed the iWatch. This would likely mean Apple is going to consolidate the iPod line if the iWatch takes on some of the features that iPods currently have (which isn’t a lot).

Don’t get me wrong, I see that the Classic is hugely popular with some of my friends who are musicians because it allows them to carry a wide array of music with them in a slim package and they don’t have to worry about storage capacity. However, the storage option of 160GB seems to be the only reason why they even considered buying one, and if an iPod touch comes along with the same storage, they will likely switch over to that. I don’t see the Classic surviving 2014, as it wouldn’t make sense for the company to continue selling a product that doesn’t fit in with any other products that they offer.

I think it is finally time to lay the iPod Classic to rest, thank it for the many years that it provided us, and move on to better and more updated hardware and software.

For more thoughts on the year ahead, including our editor Kirk Hiner’s thoughts on the the future of the iPod classic, read Appletell’s product predictions for Apple in 2014.

Product [iPod Classic]

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  • K santospr

    Ipod classic should stay as a token of reminder n historical significance where it all began.

    More importantly for poor folks like me in third world country ,ipod classic is attainable as we continue to aspire to iphone n ipad.

    Just my humble opiniom

  • Stewart Meyer

    I do not agree. The classic is superior for use when working out and listening to music. Touch screens just do not cut it. The durable click wheel is easy to manuever even when on a treadmill or elipitical. I think Apple should merge the 3 other iPods into one, high capacity, App Store enabled player. I hope Apple keeps the superior design of the iPod Classic. If mine were to break, and Apple did not have one, I would have to find something similar and pass on Apple for a music player.

  • paulgrinny

    Stupid article, why pay £329 for an iPod touch 64g, with the iPod Classic only £199, most people only want to listen to music on their iPod

  • Kaled Ali

    From the point of view of Apple, it doesn’t make sense to keep the iPod Classic around. Sure, there are some people who still use the Classic. But there are also people that use the 1st generation iPod Nano. That doesn’t mean Apple should continue to support and sell those as well.

    The Classic is the only device that Apple still sells with its lineup (not older iPod touch, refurbished etc) that uses a 30-pin connector, it still uses the click-wheel, and doesn’t utilize any of the App Store features.

  • Mark M

    My 120gig Classic started playing at Christmas and my first priority was to go and buy a new 160gig version before there was none left. I suspect these are not manufactured anymore and what we say on sale is legacy stock.

    The minute stock levels look low I’m buying another one.

    By the way, I also have a 64gig touch, an 8gig nano and a few shuffles lying around … The wife also has a touch in the car.

    Bar none, the Classic is the best music device on the market from a price / flexibility / practicality perspective (I’m ignoring the new lossless DMPs due to their low capacity, high price and questionable benefits for mobile listening).

    A 160 touch? Yeah I’d buy one but I’d still use the classic for music every day … I don’t need all the other bells & whistles on the touch as I already have 2 iPads, an android phone, an iMac, a MacBook Pro and a windows laptop … I want a music player with good sound, great storage, simple to use, robust and pretty cheap … Name me another?

  • John

    The topic sentence of the first paragraph is wrong on all points. Just sayin’….

  • Ryan

    The Ipod touch is significantly more expensive than the classic if you compare the storage capacity. I would say most who use the classic continue to use it due to the benefit of being able to carry around 1000’s of tracks in your pocket.
    If the touch was introduced at a comparable price with MORE gb, then I would definitely upgrade. Short of this, I see no reason for discontinuing a product which has cornered the market in high capacity players.
    Bring in a 320gb touch and you will see the classic gathering dust.

  • Jonathan

    Why customers are settling for products with less memory capacity but higher prices is beyond me when the amount of songs in our digital libraries is higher than ever and the days of tolerating poor quality mp3s (to keep the file sizes down) are long gone right?Why are Apple not catering adequately to those who want to store their whole library in one device; the original appeal they pitched, successfully, to us all with their original iPods? The cost of an Apple Touch is unjustifiable for a “high” capacity (cough) memory, especially when I own a smart phone that does all the other stuff that I don’t need my music player to be doing. Why is no other company filling this gap either? What’s going on? Is it an age/generation thing, I’m in my 30’s and just want a music player, I have a smart phone for everything else I might need, but I’m not happy just to keep a dozen albums on its restricted memory space. I never thought my expectations of digital music would have to lower as we progress down this road, crazy times! For me, digital music continues to disappoint, come on Apple, it’s time now to wow me again! :-)

  • Arthur

    I have all my music stored on iPods, which are kept attached to docking stations. It’s a great system, allowing me to find, play, and update my music collection, without CDs or need for a WiFi access. I use an iPad for non-music applications. I would hate to lose the iPod Classic. It’s a must for music afficionados. I would hope future generations would include even more storage (disk or flash memory), WiFi (for Internet radio) and Bluetooth (or wireless speakers).