The iPod Classic is brilliant. The iPod Classic is probably the best media player of all time. The iPod Classic is dead.
The world’s greatest large format media player — the one that killed all the other large format media player companies in just a few short years — died an untimely death back in September last year.
The iPod Classic is like modern vinyl: it’s the device that has never heard of the cloud, streaming services or Apple Music and couldn’t care less. It was about taking all the music you kept in drawers and CD carry cases in your house on the road with you.
Personally, I owned more than my fair share of iPods Classic. Even before they were called “Classic”, in fact. There was the very first iPod I bought with money I’d saved from a part-time job back in 2003. It had 20GB of storage, cost me around $400 (!!!) and I cherished it. I had lied about my age at the time I got the job so I could save up for things like Vodafone pre-paid credit, Gameboy games and eventually, the third-generation iPod.
That one lasted me for years. I pined for the new models with their video capabilities, colour screens and secret Harry Potter engravings, but I never like to replace a gadget until it’s properly dead. Eventually I bought myself a new iPod in 2007 when the iPod had finally become the “Classic” product. It held 80GB of music, and my listening changed entirely. My music library had blown out thanks to a home ADSL connection and access to Limewire (sorry, Mum).
After I bought my iPhone 3GS in 2009, I gave my beloved iPod to my sister who coveted it daily. Carrying two devices wasn’t really what I wanted to do, so I finally said goodbye to my large-format music collection, and embraced the world of constrained storage in a unified device.
Everyone who ever loved an iPod Classic has a story like this. A story about when they bought their first iPod, how it changed the way they listened to music, and the inevitable day when they had to give it away in favour of modern practicality.
Even now iPod Classic users are finding that they can’t sync any of the tunes found on Apple Music to their devices due to licensing restrictions. Only music you own or have ripped to your iTunes library can be stored.
The heartbreak is real.
Just last week I was there when a stranger gave away his dream of a large-format iPod Classic. I was sitting at the Genius Bar in Sydney getting a device repaired and a man came in reporting a problem with his beloved music player. He produced an iPod Classic onto the pale wooden surface of the Genius Bar, and the 20-something in the blue Apple shirt helping him visibly exhaled as the problems were explained.
The headphone jack on the iPod Classic had given up the ghost. Everything was perfect inside, and the 30-pin charging cable was still holding up, but the headphone jack was busted. The young boy looked at the old man and told him there was nothing he could do for the dead gadget, while also explaining that that the man couldn’t just go downstairs and buy another gadget with 160GB of space he could dedicate exclusively to music.
You could see his heart break on the spot. This device that he’d carried with him all over the world, narrating his life with music, was dead beyond repair. Just throwing it away would be the technological equivalent of putting your dog down.
The old man left the Apple Store with a shuffle in his walk and none in his ears.
I really wish I could find that guy today, because I want to tell him that not all is lost.
Apple this morning launched a surprise new product: an updated iPod Touch with 128GB of flash storage.
Forget the new A8 chip, the Gold colour or the iSight camera. It has one-hundred and twenty-eight gigabytes of storage for music.
I want to live in the world where music is stored, not streamed. I want to live in the world where music is loved and not Hearted. I want to live somewhere I can be immersed in thousands and thousands of songs and not curated to. I want a world where the iPod Classic is the media player of record.
I know I can’t live in that world anymore, but I can take one little piece of it back with a new old large-format media player.
The world’s greatest iPod lives again, and I want one.