It was with more than a tinge of regret that I learnt Apple had quietly cast aside the iPod classic in it’s most recent round of new product announcements. Burying the news in a slew of watch and phone innovation, the iPod classic was no more. It’s iconic scroll wheel design has dominated digital music since 200, the ergonomically beautiful way to access my music collection.
It’s easy to forget how revolutionary it all was back in the day when the iPod was first launched. Your entire music collection, all in this tiny white and silver box.
It’s all about streaming in the cloud these days (that’s when you’ve got a very good connection that is) and the trend towards not having the physical tunes is rapidly diminishing in the mainstream. Nobody really wants the stuff any more. It’s strangely a version of the conversation we all had about ten years ago when we wrung our hands and shed a tear for the CD and replaced those unloveable bits of plastic for digital — the difference being of course, CDs were so expensive in comparison to the virtually free music of today. We’d all spent a fortune amassing roomfuls of useless shiny disks in jewel cases, only to have them replaced by binary code.
The iPod has been my music companion for well over ten years, accompanying me everywhere, delivering tunes from a fag packet sized box that got smaller in size and progressively larger in terms of capacity, not to mention cheaper. Hours would be spent at the computer compiling playlists for holidays becoming soundtracks for key moments in our lives — iTunes became my garden shed, a refuge and relaxing place to go. Family holidays in Cornwall had their own back to back, seamless playlist of music, seared into our subconscious so much so that certain songs still remind the kids of weeks spent in the sun under canvas.
The early chunkiness of the design made way for a sleeker design with nanos, minis, classics all demanding my loyalty and admiration, all finding their place in my life. I bet I’ve owned around ten different iPods, all now sleeping in drawers and boxes, some not working, others gamely still batting on after a few hours charge.
I managed to buy a new iPod classic a few weeks ago, just before Apple knocked the range on the head. My old silver classic was showing its age: it reluctantly synced with the new OS and held on to all manner of quirks as a result. The new iPod is quick and slick by comparison, with little reference to the new industrial design of Apple save the black anodised case. I could have opted for a Touch but I’ve never seen the point of it, it just looked too much like the iPhone for me, plus I loved the memory on the classic —the only device with enough space to hold my entire music collection.
I guess it made sense in Cupertino to ditch the iPod. Super fast wireless everywhere, delivering lightning connections through big fat pipes, there’s clearly no need for a unit containing ACTUAL digital files. Transfer 4,000 miles to England however and travel from Leeds to London on the East Coast mainline, then see where your Cloud gets you. It’s the same story across the country too…streaming is great when there’s a proper internet connection or good 4G. When that’s not available, then who you gonna call? You got it, iPod.
The idea of having just one device with everything on it is great. I’ve even espoused this mantra many times to those who would listen, but I’ve changed my mind. I like the old school comforts of the iPod and I like to keep my delicate and twitchy iPhone clear of actual songs to free up the memory that seems to fill with anything and everything, for fun. There may even be a trend back to having multiple devices that are really good at what they do. If there is, then I’m an evangelist.
In the meantime, I’ll scroll and click, with no delay, accessing all of my tunes, whenever I like regardless of connectivity. But one day my iPhone will die and there will be no way of replacing it and that will be a very sad day indeed.