RIP 2 the iPod era

The gateway Apple device for Gen Z and young millennials has been officially discontinued.

by Tom George
11 May 2022, 3:39pm

Images @NoNoNopityNope @throwukback @TheRykerDane

In the era of streaming and phones with literally every app imaginable, a device dedicated entirely to listening to music is redundant. And yet, the announcement that Apple is closing their iPod chapter for good brings a tear to our eyes. Have we picked up our iPod Nano, filled with the Twilight soundtracks and early Taylor Swift songs, in over a decade? No. But we mourn the loss of our companion during walks to school, our saviour from boredom on long car journeys and our rock who soundtracked those early teen heartbreaks. 

When the iPod began its life in 2001, it revolutionised music listening; a device that could hold up to 1000 songs(!). In 2004, it was famously revealed that Karl Lagerfeld had an entire drawer of at least 70 iPods, one per album we assume. By 2011, it made up 70% of MP3 sales globally. “To me, the iPod is the most innovative product of our lifetimes,” tweeted psychologist Dr Brett McCabe. “It led to the changes in the way we communicate, function, and collaborate. It was not 1st in class but it was the most efficient.” 

Over the years the device became sleeker with new variants like the iPod Nano, the favourite of late noughties teens, that came in a rainbow of colours to fit your early aesthetics; the iPod Shuffle for those chaotic yet vibeless few who were willing to listen to absolutely anything at any given point; and the iPod Touch, the rich kids device of choice that was basically an iPhone pre-iPhone. Though the former two were discontinued in 2017, as we all had long switched to streaming services that didn’t limit our music listening to download storage, yesterday Apple announced that the iPod Touch would also be taking its final bow, the device now only available until stocks last.  

For Gen Z, and even some young millennials, the iPod was not only our first Apple product, it was our first portable music device. We’d spend hours deciding which 15 99p songs would make the cut to buy with the £15 gift voucher we’d get maybe twice a year: at Christmas and on our birthday. And then the excitement of deciding which special track will be chosen when all those extra 1 pennies added up to a whole extra 99 pence; one more song to download.

Though collab records and features may have caused us immense stress when they’d appear separately on the artists list from the track’s main artist and disrupt our perfectly curated libraries, who can forget the therapeutic time spent neatly tidying up a song’s details in the iTunes backend? Or the stress of waiting hours for our Selena Gomez and the Scene CD to be uploaded onto our computers, and thus downloaded onto our iPod. Or the frustration of strutting along the street, swinging our iPod in our hand as Britney blasts through our wired headphones only for the device to think our melodic movement is a call to cut “Womanizer” short and randomly pick another song to play via the cursed ‘shake to shuffle’ feature. Or the sheer agony of discovering a loud, intrusive watermark placed upon an illegally downloaded song, or YouTube-converted video of Lady Gaga’s leaked, unreleased numbers.

If we were to find our iPod’s now they would be a time capsule of our music tastes from the indie rock to EDM pop era. Of who we were back then, our headspaces and the artists and bands who shaped us. “Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the way iPod did impacted more than just the music industry – it also redefined how music is discovered, listened to and shared,” a statement from Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing said. He added that the “spirit of the iPod lives on.” Rest in peace iPod, gone but never forgotten

At the very least can Apple release an iPhone in that shade of hot pink please?

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