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iPod classic nostalgia is about way more than hipster cool points


iPod classic
iPod classic

Did you buy an iPod classic back in the day, which you haven’t used since you upgraded to an iPhone?

If so, be quick! Dig it out of that nondescript ‘old tech’ box in your closet and wipe off the dust as well as the Leona Lewis tracks. Because, now Apple has stopped making them, they’re worth more than Apple was selling them for.

Multiple reports this week highlighted that 6th-generation 160GB iPod classic media players have popped up on eBay for up to four times the original sale price.

That anomaly got me thinking: Why exactly did Apple stop selling them? Was it right to do so? And why are people getting all misty eyed and nostalgic about a bloody iPod?

The first one’s easy, isn’t it?

There’s really no denying the trusty ol’ iPod classic had become the odd man out at Apple. The bulky design, the iconic-but-antiquated click wheel, the lack of touchscreen functionality and the complete reliance on interconnectivity with a computer goes against everything the company has been working towards.

There’s also no Wi-Fi, no access to the iTunes Music Store, App Store, iCloud or Safari. If you’re walking around with one of these all day, you’re not making Apple any money through content and ad sales. To create that post-purchase revenue, users must plug in their iPod, download music from iTunes and transfer it. Not in this decade.

Quite simply, Apple didn’t want you buying an iPod classic. Why else do you think it hasn't been updated since 2008? It wants those rubbish built-in EarPods plugged into an iPhone or, at the very least, an iPod touch.

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Tim Cook's line about running out of parts is likely to be codswallop, but let’s not forget, when questioning Apple’s motives, that people had stopped buying iPods. Sales continue to fall off significantly, quarter after quarter, year after year. In that sense, I can’t really blame Tim Cook – a pragmatic bean counter by trade – for cutting off the manufacturing process for what was becoming such a niche product.

However, that leads me to my second point: Was Apple right to do it?

After all, what harm was that iPod classic doing sitting there on the website? Was there really any need for the company to remove a device that actually allowed people to store their entire music library – 40,000 songs! – without relying on cloud storage or streaming?

Remember, this is a company that just reported record quarterly profits of $8.5 billion. In three months! Was busting out a few iPod classics to keep a small section of its enthusiastic customer base happily listening to all of their tunes without piddling about with offline Spotify playlists really such a chore?

Would it have hurt Apple to allow folks to continue enjoying personal music without the distraction of emails and iMessages and Candy Crush invites and Facebook notifications and FaceTime calls and those depressing BBC Breaking News alerts? Damn, you could be listening to KC and the Sunshine Band and still have your buzz killed when one of those comes through.

You see, the classic’s appeal is very specific compared to the iPhone and touch. It provides the opportunity for distraction-free entertainment that’s so absent from the entire iOS ecosystem.

The 160GB iPod classic was the last bastion of that freedom. It presented a chance to escape from everything with every track you own, without an email from the boss ruining the mood and without informing all your Facebook friends of every song you listen to. (Yeah, I like Call Me Maybe, what of it?)

SEE ALSO: Spotify vs iTunes Radio


All this brings me to the final question...

Why are people getting all nostalgic over what's essentially a six-year-old piece of technology?

It seemed strange to me at first. I had visions of beardy Shoreditch hipsters attaching them to necklaces and wearing them ‘ironically’ or using them as art installations in the latest trendy café. I’m sure that’s probably happening, but it’s more than that isn’t it?

The dramatic re-emergence of vinyl proves there’s still a real desire for music to represent more than throwaway background noise, to be consumed while browsing the web or playing Candy Crush.

The iPod classic might not capture the essence of this bygone era in the same way as a 12-inch record does, but in many ways the sound of that click wheel rotating is akin to the snap, crackle and pop of an old record.

To me, it makes sense that a few people are willing to pay over the odds to safeguard an experience Apple doesn’t value and probably never did in the first place. True, unbridled enjoyment of music is not something you can put a price on.

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Prem Desai

December 14, 2014, 9:37 am

I can see where the reviewer is going with this.

It's pretty impossible to lose yourself in the music nowadays - too much else going on - notifications from email, etc, games to play and so on.

However, it is time to let go. Apple is a tech company and wants to move on - the ipod is not exactly cutting edge nowadays.

Additionally, all you need to do is to buy the largest capacity ipod touch/iphone, switch to aeroplane mode and put it into your pocket. Same musical experience as the ipod - simples.

I'm gonna miss the ipod because of it's sheer capacity. I current have a few sitting in my cars (glove box). I think the pain will set in when they stop working.

Both the walkman and ipod are iconic devices. However, I do believe the ipod will be remembered much longer .......

Glenn Gore

December 14, 2014, 1:48 pm

I still use my iPod that I have had for years and years, it's plugged into the USB port on my car. Rather than unload all my music tracks into the hard drive that is part of the radio (a torturous process in itself), I would rather use the iPod separately so it can be removed and connected to my iMac to add/remove/sort tracks as I want them to be. I will use this iPod until it completely dies. Oh and I have a brand new unopened one in its original box stored away for when this one does die.

Tim Sutton

December 14, 2014, 2:05 pm

Yes, well.

If you're remotely serious about music then you don't listen to it on an iPod. You absolutely don't listen to it in the 256kbs lossy form that iTunes sells it in.

The crazy prices for a small portable HDD with a mediocre DAC chipset attached isn't about disappearing into some musically mystical private world, it's about Apple zealots doing their Apple zealot thing.

Dutch Tulips spring to mind.


December 14, 2014, 2:45 pm

The iPod had had its day...but we need a mainstream replacement for dedicated audio listening.... Is it too hard to create a solid state memory, large capacity audio player, skewed towards high quality audio? I'm sure there is a market for it


December 14, 2014, 3:43 pm

And if I could get a replacement battery for my 80GB Classic, I would still be using it!


December 15, 2014, 10:32 am

Try these guys: https://ipoddoctor-batteries.c...
I still have the very first iPod, 5GB model, at home and it still works on the original battery plus I have a spare that I got from that site.

Mark Hornberger

December 15, 2014, 2:40 pm

"Same musical experience as the ipod"

Except for the vastly smaller capacity and much shorter battery life. I *want* all my music on one device, and I want good battery life. Apple is of course free to eliminate any products they want. But some of us were just hoping for an updated, 256GB or larger, flash-based version of the Classic. So I guess I'll save my pennies and go for one of the "audiophile" players with SD or Micro SD support. Some of them have dual card slots, no less. I won't be getting it for the audiophile-level sound; I'm content with 256kbps files from Amazon.

Mark Hornberger

December 15, 2014, 2:54 pm

"If you're remotely serious about music then you don't listen to it on an iPod"

Most listeners, in blind tests, can't tell lossless files from 256kbps MP3s. It's insulting to say they thus aren't "remotely serious about music." I agree that the headphones/earphones do make a significant difference. The difference between stock earphones and Shure 535s (to pick one example) should be evident to just about anyone.

If this were just Apple zealotry, we'd be fine with the iPod Touch or whatever else they offer. Such is not the case. I just want large capacity and good battery life, but I don't have the auditory discernment to warrant a $1000 audiophile player. So I guess until I talk myself into one of them, a Rockboxed Sansa Clip+ will have to suffice. About all I'll miss from the Apple system is their smart playlists.

Mark Hornberger

December 15, 2014, 3:04 pm

" Is it too hard to create a solid state memory, large capacity audio
player, skewed towards high quality audio? I'm sure there is a market
for it"

There are a good number of them. Look at Astell&Kern, iBasso,
HifiMan, FiiO, the Pono player, and probably a few others. They're generally marketed to audiophiles, but some are in the sub $500 range.

Tim Sutton

December 15, 2014, 3:34 pm

You don't need to spend serious money to get better sound than you do from an iPod.

Cowon and Sony both make superior players.

If you don't care about the way music sounds then an iPod is fine, Apple lossless and 256 will sound very similar on the same "good enough" iPod.

This article paints the insane prices being paid for Classics as some sort of audiophile quest, when in reality it's simply another example of Apple zealot insanity.

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