10 Comments

Summary:

Apple is reportedly close to permanently cutting the iPod classic and shuffle from its line of media players. It isn’t the first time we’ve heard that, but now it makes more sense, and it might actually be great news for iPod fans in the long run.

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Apple is reportedly very close to permanently cutting the iPod classic and shuffle from its line of media players, according to a report from TUAW late Tuesday. It’s not the first time we’ve heard that some iPod models will be retired, but it does seem more likely than ever that it’s true this time around. And that might actually be great news for iPod fans in the long run.

The iPod classic is basically a legacy holdover at this point among Apple’s portable media players. Its platter hard drive is an oddity among today’s PMPs, for which flash-based storage is the dominant tech by a long shot. It hasn’t changed since 2009, when a 160 GB version was introduced, which eventually replaced the 120 GB option entirely. Really, though, not much is different about the original classic introduced in 2007 and the one on sale today. The classic’s only advantage, from a user perspective, is its sizeable drive; the closest a flash-based iPod currently comes is 64 GB.

The iPod shuffle, while flash-based and subject to more frequent design overhauls, is simply being upstaged by the iPod nano. The latest nano is almost as small, and while it’s more expensive, its touchscreen makes it more usable and expands its capabilities considerably. The shuffle has always been a fairly good gateway device for users looking a cheap way to get into the Apple ecosystem, but with the selling power of the iPhone and iPad, that’s no longer much of a concern.

Dropping the classic and the nano shuffle would free up staff and resources that Apple could reinvest in advancing the remaining products in the iPod line, too. The most recent iPod nano has spawned a thriving accessory ecosystem based on watchband straps to hold the PMP, and it holds plenty of potential as a connected display for iPhones, if Apple does decide to enter the fray with other wrist-based connected devices that are emerging to support the Android ecosystem. The iPod touch, of course, is one part of Apple’s iOS platform, and an important one at that; in April, Ars Technica reported that it accounted for one-third of overall iOS device sales. The iPod touch now makes up at least half of all iPods sold by Apple, and is the only model that consistently sees positive growth.

Put simply, both the nano and the iPod touch have futures that either could potentially, or already do feed the growing beast that is iOS. Steve Jobs may have conveyed back in March that the company had no plans to discontinue the iPod classic, but times change, and so does a company’s focus. With Apple’s new iCloud push, the classic and the shuffle become even less relevant to its overall goals, so it’s highly possible their time has indeed come. Will you miss them?

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  1. I don’t think they will retire those. They’re still very popular. I still plan on getting a Classic so I can have my whole music library wherever I go; my iPhone just isn’t cutting and an iPod Touch wouldn’t either.

  2. Query… In this phrase, do you mean “shuffle” instead of nano? “Dropping the classic and the nano would free up staff and resources…”

    1. Thank you for the comment; yes, that was corrected on post-edit.

  3. I use the Shuffle for exercise, and at under $50, I can afford one per year. Seems that is about how long it lasts in the harsh environment. The Nano, at roughly three times the cost, would not be my exercise partner. I guess I’ll have to move to a no-name mp3 player if they discontinue the Shuffle. :-(

  4. I do agree that the touch and the nano are more desirable music players and useful for many other tasks as well. However for those looking for a budget player that does the bare minimum the shuffle is important. The classic is behind the times in that it lacks flash but it would be way more expensive if it was flash based. The fact that it is not as much money justifies it’s existence. ICloud can somewhat compensate for having less memory but sometimes a person may not have access to wifi or 3G. It seems to me that although these two players might not come close to the flagship iPod touch in popularity or sales, they still have their place.

  5. I’d be happy to stop using my classic IF there was a 120 gig iPhone to hold my music library.

  6. Christopher Mirabile Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Darrell: you are forgetting one really important issue. All those OEM and aftermarket car integrations. There is a huge market for large capacity low interaction iPods that can just sit in glove boxes and serve up music through car stereo UIs. There is likely a similar, though smaller, market for iPods serving music at home through home stereos. Streaming from a computer is an acceptable work around in the home scenario, but not in the car. Apple cannot blow off all those vehicle manufacturer partners they worked so hard to court. I suspect a streamlined classic featuring big storage, traditional interface, and low price will be around for a while.

  7. I was hoping for an 240Gb Classic as a last hurrah, I would buy a couple. I listen to a huge variety of music so I want to carry a good portion of my music collection with me.

  8. Actually the 160gb classic was first introduced with an 80gb counterpart in 2007, stripped from shelves in 2008 and reintroduced in 2009. I received my 160gb classic as a Christmas gift in 2007 and that thing is still alive and kicking. I hope they don’t retire the classic; i have a feeling I will have to replace it soon. My iPhone just doesn’t cut it and frankly it’s hardy to navigate playlists on a touch screen while I’m driving.

  9. I think the classic is the best one of all the pods its so simple and that’s why its better then the touch I don’t care about all the computer crap where you don’t have to worry about the classic so please don’t retire the ipod classic keep it around

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