OPINON: The iPod classic was retired before its time. Apple has everything it needs to perfect the original vision with a music-focused device that revives the beloved design.
The iPod celebrates its 22nd birthday today and the product that launched Apple into the modern juggernaut it is today retains a cult following.
In fact, it’s now considered “vintage” alongside vinyl, tapes, and CDs according to one retailer looking to cash in by selling refurbed models to Gen-Z. Hipster outlet Urban Outfitters will sell you a “vintage” iPod classic 5th Generation for $350, which you haven’t been able to buy new for almost ten years.
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- Was £369
“This is a genuine piece of vintage retro tech – refurbished and restored by Retrospekt,” the site says. I’d love another iPod classic. I adored the thing. An assclown I had to house share with, in London, dropped mine after hosting a drug-fuelled party with all his assclown friends and refused to replace it. Assclown.
However, I certainly wouldn’t recommend dropping $350 on a vintage model. The flash storage on these models was always liable to take a dump even without assclowns throwing them around the place (I’ll never, ever let that go). It’s not clear whether these models have had a new hard drive installed, and it’s unclear how long the iPod is guaranteed for after purchase.
However, it just goes to show there is an appetite and Apple should be all over this. I’ve been arguing for years that Apple should bring back the iPod classic. There’s never been a better time and the reasons are compelling.
I’d love to see a new iPod classic, with the original click-wheel design, once again blending the analogue and digital worlds, but with an updated vision to focus on streaming rather than downloaded MP3s.
Apple could add Wi-Fi and 5G for streaming Apple Music, Bluetooth, and a H2 chip for connecting AirPods products quickly and easily. And, of course, a physical output for supporting Apple Music lossless.
If I had my way, there’d be absolutely no touchscreen functionality – just the colour screen and the classic UI. There’d be absolutely no access to the App Store or other non-audio apps. No iPod touch-like focus on games and video. No distractions. It would be a device geared towards enthusiasts (something Apple used to make as a rule, rather than an exception) with a laser focus on audio. Music, Podcasts, Audiobooks.
The perfect iPod Classic is now possible
Everything is in place for this to work perfectly in the current era. iCloud would easily handle syncing your entire Apple Music library to the device, while the huge leaps in the affordability, reliability, and portability of SSDs would mean you’d have no problem whatsoever storing all of the high-quality files you’d need for offline playback.
There would be the ability to search for new tunes and add them to the library via the click wheel and through Siri voice commands, but the idea would be to replicate the seamless access to music you already love to hear.
Apple Music could also import those daily playlists and recommendations everyone loves to receive without deviating too far from the formula or complicating the UI. Albums from your favourite artists would be pre-saved. All of those bootlegged MP3s you can’t get anywhere else? They can be imported via iCloud too. An iPod shuffle-like rotation of your Apple Music loved songs? Hell yeah.
Music is often just a secondary activity to what we’re doing on our phones now. Scrolling through Twitter, browsing the web, doing a crossword, or whatever. A music-focused iPod with features designed to present digital music at the best possible quality would be most welcome.
Remember when we first all got AirPods? The quality of the actual tunes was crap; compressed within an inch of their lives and mostly heard through those rubbish bundled earphones that were constantly falling out or breaking.
It wouldn’t have to be that way now. 20 years of technological advancements means everything exists for Apple to make the iPod of our dreams, all bundled into a beloved form factor that now oozes “vintage” and “retro” cool, according to the arbiters of that sort of thing; Gen-Z Urban Outfitters shoppers.
There’s great sounding hi-res music, no need to manage storage thanks to streaming, brilliant wireless earbuds or headphones, an affordable streaming service with tens of millions of songs that’s way preferable to buying one single MP3 album for the same price, incredibly powerful cloud-syncing technology, powerful recommendation algorithms, and superfast USB-C and MagSafe charging.
It’s time to make the iPod great again. Let’s do this, Apple!