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The iPod classic plays its last

Christopher Breen | Sept. 10, 2014
Unlike Mark Antony, Chris Breen comes to praise as well as bury the last of the hard-drive iPod line.

"My time has passed. Ain't nothin' for it."

Justified's Mags Bennett's hardscrabble acceptance of the inevitable loss of youth and relevance nicely sums up the end of the traditional iPod line as today the iPod classic disappeared from the Apple Store. While this iPod had its charms--primarily its storage capacity--the time for mid-priced single-purpose hard-drive driven music players has passed.

With the death of the iPod classic, we witness the last of the original 5GB white iPod's line. No more hard drive. No more squarish screen. No more wheel control.

And, no surprise.

When Steve Jobs announced 2010's iPod line-up he made no mention of the iPod classic, though Apple continued to sell it. That should have been a broad enough hint that the classic was on life support. What was surprising to many is how long it lasted. Today's news simply applies the final layer of black crepe to the package. Apple has moved on. And when Apple moves on as it did with floppy drives, ADB, SCSI, and ExpressCar--ready or not--we follow or are left behind.

Apple generally doesn't leave customers in the lurch unless it has what it believes is a comparable or better option. In the case of the iPod classic, today's most expensive iPod touch offers 64GB of storage and with the announcement of a 128GB iPhone 6, can a similarly storage-rich iPod touch be far behind? This may not quite match the 160GB of storage offered by the last iPod classic, but it's sufficient for those who wish to carry around several weeks of music.

iTunes Match--the $25-a-year service that allows you to upload your music library to the cloud--is another way to justify the death of the iPod classic. Sure, you can't carry all your music with you if you have a large music library, but with an iOS device in hand and a nearby Wi-Fi network, you can download the music that you neglected to load on to your device when you were last within syncing distance of your iTunes library.

Of course iTunes Match isn't your only option for music in the cloud. With the touch's Wi-Fi connection you can stream music from a variety of sources including Pandora, Beats Music, iTunes Radio, Spotify, Rhapsody, and Rdio. Some of these services allow you to additionally download music to your iOS device. And, unlike iTunes Match, this isn't music that you must own. In the case of Beats, Spotify, Rhapsody, and Rdio, you can access any of the millions of tracks offered by these services provided you continue to keep those subscription dollars flowing.

The iPod touch has some additional advantages. One is the lack of a hard drive. Though hard drives provide a lot of storage, they're also far more delicate than flash media. I've spoken with several Apple ex-Geniuses and they've reported a fair number of returns of hard-drive bearing iPods that were used during workouts. The classic's drive doesn't spin all the time--it spins just long enough to load music into a cache--but when it is spinning it doesn't take kindly to being bounced around.

 

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