You may have missed the news because of more important things, but Apple officially retired the iPod line of music players last week. That’s not exactly true, as the iPod Touches that were discontinued were more iPhones without a cellular radio than anything resembling the classic iPods. But, still, Apple no longer sells a dedicated portable music player.
There have been plenty of odes to the iPod in the tech media. I liked this piece on The Verge, with their writers sharing some of their iPod experiences.
I had forgotten about the accessories we used to enhance our iPod experiences. Silicone cases. The do-dads that you fed into your car’s cassette player, or the snap-on transmitters so you could hear your music on a clear FM radio frequency we used before most cars came with AUX headphone jacks.
I fell in love with the iPod when it was released. However, as it was Mac-only at the time and I had yet to enter the world of the Mac, I could only lust from afar. When I began traveling for work, I got a Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 2, which looked more like a Sony Discman than an iPod. Getting music onto it was a true nightmare, usually requiring an afternoon of work to prepare for a trip. But I was able to load it up with songs to listen to on those flights from Kansas City to the west coast.
When I bought my first Mac in the summer of 2004, I tried to jump on the iPod bandwagon immediately. The first click wheel iPods had just come out, and I found a discounted third generation model – that had the cool, light up buttons – and tried to split the cost between a gift card and my credit card. Something about the transaction failed, and by the time I called to try to get it worked out, all the old models were gone. So I went to my local Apple Store and bought a click wheel model. Which was really the smarter move.
Thus began a long run of iPods. I have no idea how many I owned. I moved up to a fourth generation model after my father-in-law found one in a parking lot somewhere. It was scratched up and the battery was drained, but once I charged it up, it worked just fine. I know I had a Mini, a Nano, and a few Shuffles along the way. They were my constant companions on my drives around Indiana covering high school sports. Nothing was sadder than realizing I hadn’t synced it to iTunes before I left the house and a new album or playlist had not gotten copied over.
I kept an old iPod around until about 18 months ago. I used it to listen to podcasts as I fell asleep. When it’s battery started to fail, I finally switched to using my iPhone with Bluetooth earphones for my falling-to-sleep pods. It may still be sitting in a drawer somewhere.
My girls know what an iPod is – they all had one at some point – but I’m not sure they really understand the impact on society those little things had. Or how amazing they seemed to us when we first encountered them. It was the product the turned Apple into a business juggernaut. Most importantly, it paved the way for the iPhone, which changed the world’s concept of what a cell phone should look like and function, and had an even greater impact on both the world and Apple. All because people wanted an easy way to listen to music privately without being restricted to a single tape or CD.