The iPod Classic is no more, long live the iPod Classic!
Amongst the pomp and ceremony surrounding the launch of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch the tech giants failed to acknowledge the passing of their best serving gadget. The device that caught the imagination of a generation and effectively killed off the Walkman has been quietly discontinued after six generations.
We take a look back at my favourite iDevice and it’s many iterations.
Launched in October 2001 the first generation iPod packed a hefty 5gb hard drive as Apple boasted a device that would allow you to carry 1000 songs in your pocket, five months later and the storage was doubled to 10gb. The iPod’s success grew from it’s small size compared to other portable devices, unlike portable CD players songs would’t jump and you didn’t have to carry physical copies of your albums with you. Then the now familiar scroll-wheel was mechanical but offered an intuitive user interface unlike anything previously seen. Packing a hefty price tag starting at $399.00 not everyone could afford the allure of this white and chrome wonder and compatibility with only Mac computers made the iPod something for the elitists.
The second generation iPod wasn’t long in coming in July 2002 and bearing an almost unchanged design with slightly more rounded edges to the front. The scroll-wheel became touch-sensitive. A 20gb version and Windows compatibility via the Musicmatch Jukebox software opened up the market. iTunes was still only available on Macs at this time.
For the first time since its debut the third generation of the iPod saw a new design in April 2003. The touch-sensitive touch-wheel was introduced but with the four control buttons moved to below the screen away from the the bevelled buttons that surrounded the wheel on previous versions. Storage came in three sizes with 10,15 and 30gb capacity. By September that year the 15gb version was replaced with an entry level 20gb with the 30gb model moving aside for a new 40gb capacity.
July 2004 saw the iPod transform into the form that has fundamentally remained to present day. The click-wheel from the iPod Mini was introduced which incorporated the functions of the previously additional buttons. Other energy efficient components from the Mini saw the iPod’s battery life improve considerably too . Upon launch the fourth gen models came with 20 and 40gb storage. The ability to store photos was introduced later in the lifespan of the 4th gen iPod with a 60gb model also introduced.
In a tie in with the band U2 Apple introduced an iPod Classic that wasn’t white for the first time (The mini came in a range or metalic colours). The limited edition U2 version introduced a black variation of the device which proved so popular that the company introduced the option for their next generation iPods and maintains a standard black and white version throughout many of it’s products to date.
With a colour screen and the ability to play video the fifth generation remained aesthetically similar with adjusted proportions and a return to a flat faceplate. This generation came shortly after the introduction of the iPod Nano and carried many of the design elements seen in its smaller sibling with its white and black colourways and fully plastic front. 30 and 60gb models were available upon launch in October 2005 but true to form in September 2006 the 60gb version was retired and a larger 80gb model was introduced.
For the first time iTunes did not come bundled on a disc requiring users to download the software from the internet.
The final generation is the first that actually held the official title of iPod Classic due in part to the introduction of the iPod Touch but also to define it amongst the range that included the iPod Nano and Shuffle. The plastic faceplate was replaced with an anodized aluminum casing and battery life was greatly improved. For the first time the Classic was no longer available in white replaced instead with silver.
Initially coming in 80 and 160gb variations in September 2007 these were discontinued a year later in favour of a slimmer 120gb version. The 160gb storage is restored in September 2009 whilst maintaining the slimmer profile but proving to be the final version of the iPod Classic after the 120gb model is discontinued.
Speculation has been rife that the announcement would be made at one of Apple’s keynote speeches since 2010 that the Classic would be discontinued indefinitely. Ultimately the company’s iconic workhorse and, in many respects, the key to the Apples growth and continued success went out without so much as a whisper.
I’m always surprised at how many Apple devices i’ve accrued over the years, (Between my wife and I my last count included 2 iPod Minis, 1 iPod Nano, 2 iPod Classics and iPhone 3G, 4 and 5S, an iPad 2 and an iPad Air) and by far the one that I’ve held in the highest of regard is my first iPod Classic. I graduated to a fifth generation Classic (in black) seven years ago having previously struggled with a 8gb Mini. Although the battery has expired the 80gb model continues to work in a dock and holds my entire life in music within. I tried to get along with a Nano but found the lack of storage frustrating. The same applies to my iPhone.
And so it is that just in time I have returned to the Classic as my accompaniment through life. The convenience of having my entire music collection in my pocket, the adventures I can go on simply by slipping on my headphones and hitting shuffle, the memories it invokes and the simplicity in design, not only through the intuitive user interface, but also the aesthetic design makes the iPod Classic one device I simply can’t imagine being without.
Apple may not have felt the need to celebrate the Classic, but I do. Long live the Classic!