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

The fate of the iPod Classic


Foreword
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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Old Oct 17, 2012, 08:23 PM   #2
Beeplance
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Very nice short essay, appreciate your efforts for going so in-depth with your own personal analysis and thoughts about the iPod Classic. I have been eyeing the classic for some time now, but have yet to make a purchase. Maybe when Apple announces that it is going to be discontinued, I'll make a dash for the nearest Apple store to get one.

When i was deciding on a new iPod a year ago, i debated between the Classic and the Touch. Ended up getting the 32GB touch, due to several reasons. Firstly, i kind of felt more secure with 40 hrs of battery life compared to 36 hrs for the classic, or maybe it's just a psychological effect (haha). Secondly, at that time, i have yet to own an Apple device with a Retina display, so the Touch felt like a very good option, even thought it lack the IPS technology. Thirdly, I wanted to watch videos on it as well, so obviously the Touch is more suitable for this.

Despite all this, I still have a liking for an "Antique" ,as u call it, due to click wheel and all bulkiness. In my society, I do not see many people utilising the classic nowadays, it's either the iPhone, the Touch or the Nano. So, i guess owning the Classic makes you stand out among the others. In addition, i like using the click wheel as well, but the Touch feels easier to navigate through all my music.

Like I said above, if Apple decides to stop selling the Classic next year, I'm definitely getting one immediately after the announcement. To me, it symbolises the uniqueness of the original iPod line that Steve started, something which is starting to fade out as technology advances and other iPod variants start to develop.
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Old Oct 18, 2012, 09:45 AM   #3
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I agree the clickwheel is iconic and simple. Its like they invented an intuitive human interface, and 10 years later it does not do enough for the user, yet warm feelings still. Could have written a paragraph on it if I thought of that before the essay.

I just cant find a place for the Classic in my life now, I am sure a lot of people can. It will just be in the way for me, either using drawer space in my apartment, or stand displayed never to be used.

As I said, lots of people would want and could have need for the Classic. Apple has been known the last years to force feed few shoe sizes for very different feet, dropping the 17 inch MacBook Pro, and the rack mounted server is no exception. The only thing that is holding this up for the Classic is that they want to shorten the gap between their flagship pocket media player and their old heirloom before they make the cut. Or at least that's the sad and glad scenario I think is unfolding behind the scenes.
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Old Oct 18, 2012, 10:46 AM   #4
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I would have bought one (again) right now, but the audio quality is simply not there. I never perceived the iPod as an ultimate audio quality device, they just did better. The iPod Video 5G (the 2005 one I think) had much better audio quality.
In March 2011 I bought an 160GB Classic (being the last model) and instantly I felt the sound was significally muddier and more plasticky.. then I tested a 6th gen nano after 1 month, the "Nano Watch" and from the first second the audio quality felt so much better. Adding that I loved the UI and the smooth iOS feel, and the amazing small size, I sold the Classic and adored the Nano ever since.


Now, I filled the nano and I have to micro-manage it and when I think about it, I would go back to the amazing 160GB space.
Heck, I would even accept the UI lag if it had a better audio quality.

It's just that I hate this internet-dependency and cloud with my music. I want to have my music WITH ME, at all times. Add the fact and the ideas about Apple axe-ing it and now I seriously consider going back to the Classic.

This classic is the true music lover's music player. I love organizing my music, I have covers on my entire library, release date etc.
If any of you would know the better version out of the 6th and 7th ? I actually think I had the 6G because it had the The Killers cover and I remember the 6G having lots of software issues.
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Old Oct 18, 2012, 06:13 PM   #5
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Hmm... maybe you could try posting your essay to SlashDot
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 07:40 AM   #6
Siggen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariii View Post
Hmm... maybe you could try posting your essay to SlashDot
Thanks, I didn't see anywhere it says which formatting I can use, HTML, BBCode, or any of the other obscure formatting codes slashdot uses?
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 08:30 AM   #7
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dude you really got very good writing skills. are you working as a blogger ?
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 08:35 AM   #8
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Not a bad read.

My thoughts are that the Classic won't be going anywhere. There are still thousands of Classic users out there who use them every day. I, for one, don't tend to use my iPhone 5 for music, but instead use an old 80GB classic nearly every day.

In my opinion, the best place for an iPod Class is plugged into cars that can read the media from them. Entire music collection in your car, no CD's.

Can't forget about the ability to use disk mode either. Nice quick and easy external storage solution in a pinch.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 06:14 PM   #9
kaielement
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Love my iPod Classic and would never give it up for anything. I mean don't get me wrong I love my iPhone but I never use it as an iPod. I love having all my music in one place. I don't like running my battery down on my phone because I use my phone for so many other things. My Classic has such a great battery life.

P.S. With a lot of the wireless companies not offering unlimited data it's becoming harder and harder to access your cloud or online music that I think offline players like the iPod classic will always be around in some sort of form. Plus there are tons of people who still live in areas where they get little to no cell reception, and have data caps on there internet at home. So it is nice to have an option out there.
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Old Oct 24, 2012, 02:43 AM   #10
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The internet based storage solution is simply not there for a couple of reasons
- it is not going to be consistant speed-wise like local storage
- cant connect everywhere
- have to worry about server down times
- have to rent instead of own space
- have to worry about library changes, especially if you are renting your music for a flat rate instead of buying it
- the biggie, wireless carriers are ripping of consumers as much as they can, as demand of always on internet has gone up the wireless carriers continue to impose limits and increase prices

I wish Apple would make the classic an audiophile device instead of just letting it die a slow death.
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Old Oct 24, 2012, 09:39 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawncooper78 View Post
dude you really got very good writing skills. are you working as a blogger ?
Thank you very much, no I am not a blogger, I wouldn't mind working as a freelancer for a column now and then for a tech blog. But I am not doing that at the moment, and I do not have any prior experience in this field, but I would not mind getting any.

I have worked with IT since I was 16 though

Oh, and its worth while mentioning that English is not my first language. But I use English every day professionally and private.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatlinerG View Post
Not a bad read.

My thoughts are that the Classic won't be going anywhere. There are still thousands of Classic users out there who use them every day. I, for one, don't tend to use my iPhone 5 for music, but instead use an old 80GB classic nearly every day.

In my opinion, the best place for an iPod Class is plugged into cars that can read the media from them. Entire music collection in your car, no CD's.

Can't forget about the ability to use disk mode either. Nice quick and easy external storage solution in a pinch.
Also thank you.
I do believe that the Classic is going out. Why? Because that's the way Apple pushes on. For instance in the keynote they just held, all Mac's introduced yesterday lacked a DVD drive. Now the Mac Pro is the only Mac with the physical space for a internal DVD rom. As you might have noticed, this is one of the last steps in a scheme that started with the MacBook Air which because of reception has had this project moved along as fast or slow as it has been.

I also agree the car is a very good place for a Classic. Even better if you are a DYI guy and set up a dock it. The thing is that Apple will go trough with this even though some people would prefer they did not. I believe that the main reason they have not let the Classic go yet is that they have yet to be able to make a satisfactory alternative of the iPod Touch for the right price... yet. They will probably cut this product that we hold dear shortly after they can.

The disk drive mode, love it. The problem is that it goes against the very soul of iCloud. iCloud has problems due to it being online, which I will address after the two next quotes which I will answer to at the same time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaielement View Post
Love my iPod Classic and would never give it up for anything. I mean don't get me wrong I love my iPhone but I never use it as an iPod. I love having all my music in one place. I don't like running my battery down on my phone because I use my phone for so many other things. My Classic has such a great battery life.

P.S. With a lot of the wireless companies not offering unlimited data it's becoming harder and harder to access your cloud or online music that I think offline players like the iPod classic will always be around in some sort of form. Plus there are tons of people who still live in areas where they get little to no cell reception, and have data caps on there internet at home. So it is nice to have an option out there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iEvolution View Post
The internet based storage solution is simply not there for a couple of reasons
- it is not going to be consistant speed-wise like local storage
- cant connect everywhere
- have to worry about server down times
- have to rent instead of own space
- have to worry about library changes, especially if you are renting your music for a flat rate instead of buying it
- the biggie, wireless carriers are ripping of consumers as much as they can, as demand of always on internet has gone up the wireless carriers continue to impose limits and increase prices

I wish Apple would make the classic an audiophile device instead of just letting it die a slow death.
@kaielement, @iEvolution.
You talk about problems with online solutions and you are both right about these problems. kaielement, you talk about always, always is a very long time And I believe that offline media players will be available for a long time yet, this is why the iPod Touch has not taken over for the Classic yet. In my essay I compare storage options for the iPod Touch and the Classic, and because of how silicon chips are produced the next upcoming size will only be 20% less than the iPod Classic. If they make the price right (and it will be more expensive than the Classic), they will be able to cannibalize the market of the Classic over to the Touch.

As for Internet connection, the phones of the world will not be always online any time soon. But luckily this is changing, more and more people are online more and more of the time.

The key factors:
Battery, phones use less and less battery, compared to a brand X media player, most phones are power anorectic. They use so little because so much research is going into phone power consumption. Most media players do not tap into this research, partially because lots of research are directed to phone only parts, and simply because they do not predict a big boost of income on using money on applying this to their PMP's. Another reason for the power anorectisism is because phone use smaller and smaller batteries to make phones smaller. And many more reasons.

Reception and Speed, is improving, this is a billion dollar industry. The telecom companies are paying big bucks to replace their equipment and even set up more of these wonderful antennas. Frequencies and amplitudes of signals are as you might not know very physical attributes. This is a real challenge to the providers, because grossly simplified a person will use a frequency band for their own. Now there are a lot of techniques for queuing packages and modulating this.

Price, price is dropping. In my country Norway, I pay 40 dollar per month for unlimited data, this is very cheap for Norway to compare normal prices for a MCDonalds trip for one person can be between 30 and 50 dollars. And in my Scandinavian neighboring countries its even cheaper for unlimited data. I know this does not necessarily apply to other countries, but if data does not become cheaper, it will be the death of the Telecom giants, and the rise of smaller companies.


My final words in this comment will be that I know one shoe does not fit every foot here. But people wanting, needing, using and even relying on this shoe is in rapid increase. And Apple is a shoemaker that is indeed happy to see this.
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 06:06 PM   #12
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Very nice essay. You might say that I'm on the other side of the fence. Here's what I would love to see.

New iPod
- same height and width of the iPod "classic", but thinner
- slightly smaller clickwheel
- slightly larger screen, now touchscreen, with "apps" like the new iPod nano
- 128/256GB mSATA drive (to make room for 512GB in the future)
- Lightning connector
- WiFi/Bluetooth

I don't need something else that can run apps - I have both an iPhone 5 and an iPad 3. What I would like, is a new iPod that can hold my 180GB+ music collection - and if it could WiFi sync (say, from my glovebox every time I pull into the garage) and stream over AirPlay and Bluetooth, that would be amazing.

This couldn't be done (I don't think) for the $250 of the current classic - but I once paid $500 for a 10GB iPod (1st gen!), and I would be happy to pay $500 for this.

Of course, if it kept the ability to be used in Disk Mode, let's just dream that it would also have a Thunderbolt connector ...
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 06:21 PM   #13
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I think nostalgia has a distorting effect on how good something really is.
I have been exclusively an iPhone listener since 2009. Before that, strictly clickwheel.
Early this year I thought I missed the click wheel and got myself a classic. I told myself that it's a much better, more intuitive interface. Tell you what, the clickwheel isn't as good as i remembered it to be. After using the touch screen ipods, the clickwheel seems like a compromise.
It's a lot harder to reach a letter when you have a long list of artists. on the iphone, you just tap approximately where the letter is and fine scrub to find. Very quick, much quicker than my classic ipod - I had to rotate my thumbs really quickly, wait as it realizes im skipping past all these artists and then hope i land on the right letter. Then repeat if you miss.. Of course, pre-multitouch era, i thought the click wheel was perfection.
I thought the click wheel was awesome to change volume on the go. I thought I missed that.. well, not true with the volume buttons on the iphone which does just as quick a job.

Instead, I immediately missed being able to sync songs wirelessly. Not having to tether my phone to my macbook. being able to and download songs wirelessly, being able to speak to the phone and tell it to play 'Hillsong' or 'coldplay'.
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Old Nov 26, 2012, 05:45 AM   #14
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The Clickwheel really sucks, going back to using a Classic after being used to touchscreens is a tortuous process.

I found the Classic pretty bad for traversing 100Gb of music or so - there was a noticeable lag that just got in the way of actually enjoying music..too little ram on there to even display Coverflow properly.

All the above plus the inevitable failure of hard drives made using the Classic less than a stellar experience for me.
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Old Nov 26, 2012, 05:48 AM   #15
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if you call it as short essay then what is your definition for big. Anyways gone through it and find it interesting
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