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How Apple Music could launch the iPod's comeback

Michael Simon | July 8, 2015
The iPod was Apple's original rock star. Back before the iPhone became a global sensation and the iPad led the post-PC revolution, the iPod was the device generating long lines and record-breaking sales.

ipod family early 2015

The iPod was Apple's original rock star. Back before the iPhone became a global sensation and the iPad led the post-PC revolution, the iPod was the device generating long lines and record-breaking sales. Apple's annual music event where the latest in iPod technology was unveiled to much fanfare created enough buzz to sustain sales for the next 12 months, and its popularity was such that it created a so-called halo effect that spurred sales of Apple's other products, namely iMacs and iBooks.

Even when its would-be assassin was announced at Macworld San Francisco, Steve Jobs stressed the "widescreen iPod with touch controls" aspect as one of its three tentpole features. In fact, it was the very first thing we learned iPhone could do, and Steve waited a full 12 seconds until the applause died down and he could tell us the new device was also a phone. And even then, most people just wanted the touchscreen iPod, which Apple delivered a few months later.

But while the iTunes Music Store was specifically targeted at iPod users, it was the App Store that pushed the iPod out of the limelight. By the third-generation of the iPhone, the iOS iPod icon had been supplanted by a more generic Music one, and eventually the annual iPod refresh became an appetizer to the iPhone entree. It hasn't seen a significant update since 2012, and just last month it unceremoniously lost its tab at the top of Apple.com too, fittingly to Music.

But while it may seem that Apple has all but forgotten the iPod, the launch of its streaming music service might have the company singing a different tune. Apple Music is tailor made for the iPods of yore, and it just might be the thing that breathes new life into its line of personal players--which are rumored for a refresh next week.

Are you experienced?

Had Apple had the foresight and influence to release a streaming service alongside the iTunes Store in 2003, it would have sold more iPods than it could make. The freedom, versatility, and exploration built into Apple Music is made to follow you wherever you go. From Beats 1 to the hand-curated playlists and myriad offline listening selections, Apple has put tremendous thought into how music lovers want to listen. The iPhone is a large part of it, of course, but your library will travel to all of your devices, whether that's a MacBook, PC, Apple Watch, Apple TV, iPod, or eventually even a Galaxy S6.

It's about the experience. The very first commercial for the iPod showed a young adult listening to music on his Mac, transferring it to his iPod and picking up the same song as he danced out of the door. At the time it was a novel concept, but in today's world, having tens of millions of songs at our fingertips isn't exactly revolutionary. Still, what elevates Apple Music is the package, much like the iPod was all those years ago.

 

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