Farewell iPod: 2001 to 2022

I think the number one reason for the iPod’s demise is the rise of streaming and improved cellular/wireless availability. Jennifer has some kind of unlimited plan which enables her to play a music service through her phone constantly. Throw in smart phones having this capability, especially iPhones, since day one, having a dedicated MP3 player is redundant to the majority.

The iPod’s evolution was pretty cool to watch too. It began as a five-gigabyte, portable hard drive you had to be somewhat cautious with due to its internal moving parts. There were many skeptics, including myself, because the competition used solid-state storage to avoid the downside of motion/dropping and USB communication to transfer data. The price was another factor. Four hundred bucks was a lot in 2001. Sure, you could carry around 1000 Pop songs versus the others (about an hour) yet this successor to Sony’s Walkman appeared to be another high-end, high-prestige Apple gizmo. Slowly, the iPod gained traction. First the price came down and then the communication switched from FireWire to USB. The next big boost was the iTunes Music Store circa 2003. Again, not an original idea from Apple, just successful in solving what the predecessors failed to do…giving people a smoother, more intuitive interface. Plus Jobs seemed to have won an argument with the Music Industry, people will pay for music if it’s reasonable and easy-to-use. Within a few years, the iPod started making the transition to solid-state storage as the manufacturing costs came down. Eventually it settled on the final design of the iPod Touch we’ve seen for the last decade as the iPhone overtook it probably by the iPhone 5 models.

Others tried to compete but they all were short-lived and failed. Dell and HP resold them as accessories to their PCs. VW cars came with them for a brief time. The most hilarious attempt to dethrone the iPod was Microsoft’s Zune. The color choice of brown proved to me that nobody in Marketing really thought it through and good luck finding one that functioned at a retail store. Seems the sales people were more interested in selling iPods. The dislike was so great, I remember reading about a guy who made protective iPod cases with dead Zunes because they were unlikely to be stolen. Obviously brown was the one in highest demand.

Farewell iPod via your final descendent, the iPod Touch. I know I’ll be holding on to one for as long as I can to use in my car. Austin might be the self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World but its radio stations don’t agree given how awful they are. If I’m on a short drive, I will toggle between KUT (NPR), KMFA (Classical) and KUTX (Whatever) yet I have to grit my teeth with UT’s offerings, especially during the semi-annual begathons or the DJ plays something lacking much merit in my opinion: Nick Cave, 99% of all (c)Rap or when they choose a song played to death on the commercial stations. Thankfully, my iPod Touch with hundreds of things I’m learning via Podcasts or auditioning for future KMAG mixes keeps me sane in the car.

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