In the age of streaming and phones with literally every app imaginable, a device dedicated entirely to listening to music is redundant. And yet, the announcement that Apple is definitively closing its iPod chapter brings tears to our eyes. Did we pick up our iPod Nano, filled with Dusk Taylor Swift soundtracks and early songs, in over a decade? No. But we mourn the loss of our companion during walks to school, our savior from boredom during long car journeys and our rock that punctuated these heartbreaks of adolescence.
When the iPod began life in 2001, it revolutionized music listening; a device that can hold up to 1000 songs (!). In 2004, it was revealed that Karl Lagerfeld had an entire drawer of at least 70 iPods, one per album, we assume. In 2011, it accounted for 70% of worldwide MP3 sales. “For me, the iPod is the most innovative product of our lives”, tweeted psychologist Dr. Brett McCabe. “It has led to changes in the way we communicate, operate and collaborate. It was not the 1st in its class but it was the most efficient.
Over the years the device has gotten sleeker with newer variants like the iPod Nano, the teen favorite of the late 2000s, which came in a rainbow of colors to match your early aesthetics; the iPod Shuffle for those chaotic but vibrationless few who were ready to listen to absolutely anything at any given time; and the iPod Touch, the favorite device of rich kids that was essentially a pre-iPhone iPhone. Although the first two were discontinued in 2017 as we had all long since switched to streaming services that didn’t limit our music listening to download storage, Apple announced yesterday that the iPod Touch would also be stepping down, the device now only available while supplies last.
For Gen Z, and even some millennials, the iPod wasn’t just our first Apple product, it was our first portable music device. We spent hours deciding which 15.99p songs would make the cut to buy with the £15 gift voucher we received maybe twice a year: at Christmas and on our birthday. And then the excitement of deciding which special track will be chosen when all those extra 1pence adds up to an extra 99p; one more song to download.
Although the recordings and features of the collaboration could have caused us immense stress when they appeared separately on the artist list of the main track artist and disturbed our perfectly organized libraries, which can forget the therapeutic time spent tidying up Carefully detail a song in the iTunes backend? Or the stress of hours of waiting for our Selena Gomez and Scene CD to be downloaded to our computers, and thus uploaded to our iPod. Or the frustration of strutting down the street, swinging our iPod in our hand as Britney blasts into our wired headphones only for the device to think our melodic movement is a call to cut short “Womanizer” and pick at random another song to play via the damn “shake to shuffle” feature. Or the agony of discovering a strong, intrusive watermark placed on an illegally downloaded song, or a converted YouTube video of Lady Gaga’s leaked unreleased numbers.
If we were to find our iPods now, they would be a time capsule of our musical tastes from the era of indie rock to the era of pop EDM. Of who we were back then, our headspaces and the artists and bands that shaped us. “Music has always been at our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the same way the iPod has impacted more than just the music industry – it has also redefined the way music is discovered, heard and shared,” a statement from Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. He added that “the spirit of the iPod lives on”. Rest in peace iPod, gone but never forgotten
At the very least, can Apple release an iPhone in this shade of hot pink, please?
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