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Old Oct 17, 2012, 10:16 AM   #1
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The fate of the iPod Classic (Short essay)

The fate of the iPod Classic

I have since stopped using offline media players. Why? Because it does not contain more than 18 million songs, like oh letís say Spotify (source). My hunch is that this will probably be the end of offline media players in the end, but not yet, one shoe size does not fit all. People still want offline music players, maybe the last we will see of them will be to be able to tether internet from your phone to buy that one extra album you want while on the tram? The iPod Classic has not been updated since September 2009 (source), this short article will cover the death of this device, why, and when it might happen. I will miss it, not because I've ever owned one, but because I want to it to be a good alternative. And it is the only alternative for some.

What has happened?
In September Apple released the sixth generation, revision 2 iPod Classic only available as 160GB. The year before also yielded only a revision of the previous yearís version. The first sixth generation was the first to be called Classic. Apple often thinks years in advance, at least they try. And the Classic suffix of this iPod might have been the first hint at the downfall of this device, which played its part in building the company we have today. Since 2001, this line has yielded at least one device every year. Starting at 5GB which was then a massive amount, to now 160GB which Apple boasts should hold about 40'000 songs. 40'000 is a lot, but regular people (almost regular at least) have had bigger digital music collections that that since the early 2000's. 40'000 should be enough for anyone, after all, you should not be able to get trough that without having access to a computer. Apple defines a song as 4 minute for this porous, and by that definition it would take more than 111 days and 2 hours to get through a full iPod Classic. If they wanted to continue the Classic line, they would not call it classic (negative word with tech), they would have made it cheaper, smaller, and would have given it more storage.

It is not the amounts of songs that is the problem, itís the amount of songs you don't have that is the problem. I used to notoriously add whole albums, as I think a lot of albums can artistically be enjoyed as one piece. This is not true for all albums though. While going on a road trip, before my Spotify days the real challenge was which songs to leave at home. I got by, but what if I left behind a song that I later wanted to hear, It'd be stuck in my mind til I got home to my song collection. I don't hold a large digital audio collection any more, why? Because Spotify, that's why. The library is not claimed, nor should you think it is extensive. But the artists that I would like to listen to which are not included in the library of Spotify I think is almost exclusive to Metallica, AC/DC and Led Zepplin. I am not the biggest fan of Metallica, but It would raise my comfort to have easy access to some of their songs now and then, especially at one of the few times I ingest alcohol. AC/DC and Led Zeppelin are bigger losses for me. Though I own AC/DC and Led Zepplin's studio discographies the easy part is to rip them to iTunes (or your preferred application), add them to local Spotify files, then put them in a playlist that you mark as offline on your cell phone while your computer is on and Spotify can share. Not a perfect method but it will do for me.

(Humor about an old iPod Touch vs the Classic)

What will come?
This part is of course purely speculation. But watching technology progress and make sense of it has believe it or not been a hobby of mine since I could walk. I was put in front of a computer since before that, and been allowed to break and ruin it for learning porous since day one. This gives me almost no credentials what so ever. But the downfall of the iPod Classic is still imminent. We live now in a world where big companies adjust their sails, or lose money. Apple knows this, but they have not been able to just drop the Classic yet but will soon. Why is the Classic still available? Its size! Not the external size, but the harddrive that is in that thing can hold 40'000 songs (source), the biggest iPod touch is 64Gig (4gigs easily goes away to miscellaneous like OS and more) so if we say 60GB is about 37% the size of 160GB, and 37% of 40000 songs is less than 15000. And that is significant since the size is the main feature of the iPod Classic. Some people would rage for buying a product that is 30% more expensive and more than 60% worse (for their use). But here is the thing about the iPod Touch, its maximum capacity has been 64GB for for over 3 years now (source).

This has to stop, prices for NAND dice are dropping like clockwork, itís ONLY a matter of time before we see the 128GB which is as much as 80% of the Classics 160GB. I am only guessing here, but since the top model has been 64GB for as much as 3 generations now, the next one is likely to have an 128GB option. I thought it might happen as of this generation. Following general silicon die price drop, same speed or same capacity drops by about half each 18 months. That means we could expect the price of a 64GB die to be at 1/3 or less the price it was when the first iPod Touch shipped with 64GB storage. The reason of prices dropping like this is that the price drops at the same rate as we produce faster more compact transistors. This observation is called Moor's Law (source). The prices are also slightly affected by the market, which in turn is heavily affected by that which Moor's law observes.

I am not saying we are overdue with a 128GB iPod Touch, but the possibility, engineering wise and price wise is no longer a problem... probably. What will be the price of a 128GB iPod Touch? I think that one of the reasons we have yet to see the 128GB iPod Touch is that they want the introduction price of this size not to be too much higher that the iPod Classic. I mean, 20% space loss might be acceptable for a lot of costumers, but the device will probably be costing $150 more than what the Classic costs now. Keep in mind, only guesstimating now. The iPod Classic is the device for people requiring large local storage, but I do suspect apple might try to pull of that these costumers will accept to pay $150 more for 20% less storage. After all they will also get better battery life (with identical use, source). You also get much better headphones included (The earpods are a dream for their price range, I did not expect that). The iPod touch even has a better amplifier for sound quality. You get a compact camera that could rival my mom's if you ran a screwdriver trough the flash on her camera. Also, over half a million apps (as of long ago), and dozens of other feature that would come secondary to a customer whom is interested in the iPod Classic.

(One of the many features of the current iPod Touch)

Now please imagine the actual Keynote where Apple state that they are discontinuing the iPod Classic. It could be next year. Tim Cook could soon present the 6th gen iPod Touch, gloriously as if they have achieved victory over the iPod Classic. Every negative attribute about the iPod Classic would be presented as if the iPod Touch would save you from it. In marketing this would be a bullet to the knee for most other companies, to talk down on one of their products. But Apple has already made steps to make this a good thing. They have for over five years now (when it gained the Classic suffix) started to hint to you that this iPod is an antique. Thus there is nothing wrong with it being outdated.

(Tim Cook, same keynote as iPT 5g was introduced)

Last edited by Siggen; Oct 24, 2012 at 12:19 PM.
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