At the same time Apple was debuting their two new iPhones and the Apple Watch at their annual ‘oohs and ahhs’ event they were quietly removing the iPod Classic from their online Apple Store.
They will still sell the Shuffle, Nano and Touch, at least for a while, but the age of the portable, single-function music player may be drawing to a close. These days just about every music junkie out there uses their smartphone to store or stream music while they are out and about (and at home too in many cases).
The chirpy device has been through six different iterations since it was introduced on October 23, 2001. The original iPod came with a 5GB hard drive, cost $399 and could store a whopping 1,000 songs encoded using MP3.
While the iPod quickly became the dominant portable MP3 music player, its success wouldn’t have been possible if other companies like Diamond Multimedia hadn’t won a landmark lawsuit that established the legality of recording songs on a portable music device. The Diamond Rio came out in September 1998, and it wasn’t the first MP3 player to hit the market. Audible came out with a player in January 1998 that used a proprietary format and could only store about two hours of music. The SaeHan/Eiger MPMan launched a few months later and the HanGo came out later the same year. Creative Labs launched their NOMAD device in 2000 and the Cowon iAUDIO CW100 and Archos Jukebox also came out that year.
But while all these other companies may have blazed a path for Apple, the iPod (later rebranded as the iPod Classic), with its easy to use, simple interface and slick design really catapulted the portable MP3 player into the mainstream.
I have to admit that I never owned an iPod (I did have a Rio and a few other players). They were a bit pricey for my budget at the time and I wasn’t thrilled with Apple’s decision to use a proprietary, modified version of the MP3 format. Plus the fact that iPods had a public perception very similar to what the Google Glass has today – an expensive gadget that was as much a status symbol as it was a music player.
But you still have to give the Apple iPod credit for jumpstarting an entire industry. RIP iPod.