The iPod Classic officially passed away this week at the age of 12, a victim of inevitable obsolescence.
Apple removed the iPod Classic from its online store Sept. 9, the same day it unveiled its latest iPhones and the new Apple Watch. Considered a revolutionary device upon its release in October 2001, the iPod’s mechanical spin wheel and tiny screen made it seem like an antique over a decade later.
While it took a long time for Apple to finally take the iPod Classic off the market, the device’s doom was effectively sealed in 2007, when the original iPhone made its debut. Why port around a device devoted exclusively to music when your phone could play anything you wanted, in addition to making calls and snapping photos? As smartphones gained marketplace momentum, Apple seemed more than happy to sit back and let iPod sales gradually decline, so long as that decline was due to people jumping from the iPod to an iPhone.
Even as Apple focused more of its time and attention on phones and tablets, a few competitors emerged with their own take on portable music players. One of the most notable is the PonoPlayer, introduced by musician Neil Young earlier this year; the triangular device, which comes paired to an online music store and software for curating playlists, is supposed to play music at quality levels comparable to old vinyl records.
The majority of electronics manufacturers, however, seem to realize that tablets and smartphones, in conjunction with the cloud, have taken over the portable-music market. Apple’s iTunes Store was considered revolutionary when it made its debut in 2003, but in recent years streaming services such as Spotify have grown to dominate the way people consume music. Why download a handful of songs from Apple for 99 cents apiece when you can stream entire albums for free? Apple responded to the rise of streaming by purchasing Beats Electronics, which offers a streaming-music service, but has yet to dominate the space in the same way iTunes did for music downloads.
In the meantime, the iPod Classic is survived by the iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, and iPod Touch.
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