Yesterday, the great Apple in Cupertino spake, and the good news was… no, not the iPhone 5c… no, not the iPhone 5s… and no, not iOs 7. The good news was the fact that the iPod Classic remained for sale in the Apple Store. You see, shortly before the Apple announcement (and even shortly afterwards) there was story after story after story after story … after story about how Apple would kill the iPod Classic this year. Even the few stories (here and here) that acknowledged its non-death seemed surprised that it was still around, and that people still use it. The assumption seems to be that everyone wants multipurpose phones, that everyone doesn’t care about music storage, and that everyone wants to stream their music.
The iPod Classic does not require an Internet connection to play music. It is ideally suited for the person in environments without such connections (such as government workers in sensitive environments, people in isolated environs). It is also ideally suited for the people in environments without the necessary bandwidth, or who cannot afford the necessary bandwidth. I’d imagine that the iPod Classic does quite well in countries and areas with less developed Internet infrastructures.
The iPod Classic also does well for people who love music. It has the space to be able to store your music in a loss-less format, if that’s what you want… or to store lots and lots and lots of music (I’m coming up on 32,000 songs, and I still have about 60 GB free). The largest capacity of the iOS devices is 64 GB, and that’s quite pricey ($399 for 64 GB, vs. $249 for 160 GB). I, along with many others, enjoy having my full music collection with me at all times.
The iPod Classic, together with the remaining click-wheel device (e.g., the Shuffle) are also the only devices suitable for the visually impaired. The iOS devices not only disenfranchises the poorly connected, they disenfranchise those who require tactile feedback and cannot maneuver a touch screen.
The only drawback for Apple (but not for consumers) is that the iPod Classic is also well-made, and people are still using their devices purchased in 2001. When treated well, these devices last. Of course, Apple does have iTunes to screw up the ecosystem (which is why I’ve stayed at iTunes 10.7, and will not purchase a newer Apple device that forces me to a newer iTunes).
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Read the comments on the Entertainment Weekly post on the subject. People love their iPod Classic, both for its capacity and the fact it is not a streaming device. Streaming, despite what you hear, is not the way of the future.
Perhaps Apple has realized that there is a niche that isn’t always connected, or work in places where continuous connection is not possible. Perhaps Apple has realized that prices on SSD have not yet come down to the point yet where a solid state device (SSD)-based replacement for the iPod with sufficient storage will sell. I’m sure one day the iPod Classic will be replaced by an iPod Touch equivalent with more storage, 256GB SSD minimum, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure there are those that would jump for an iPod Touch or iPhone that had not only enough space for all of their music, but all of their apps. A 1TB SSD iPhone. Wow. But that’s not affordable yet.
So the iPod Classic will continue to do what it has always done. Keep reliably running in the background, doing what it does superbly. Apple will keep it around as long as it is still selling in sufficient numbers to keep it manufactured… or they will manufacture sufficient numbers to have anticipated supply for 5-10 years, and just quietly sell from that stockpile. As long as they do, I’ll be happy.
When the day comes that Apple finally removes the iPod Classic from the Apple Store, I’ll be sad. I’ll also run right out and purchase a second iPod Classic to replace mine when it goes. Well, unless that 1TB iPhone or iPod Touch is announced.