RIP iPod (2001–2022) — Some Thoughts & Memories

My first iPod
My first iPod

It all started in 2001. Now it’s official, and it was a matter of time: Apple discontinued the iPod touch, the last member of the venerable iPod family. Many stories are associated with the iPod, both for Apple and personally. Similar to what I’m writing in my ongoing series “Remembering The Story Behind Every Apple Computers I Ever Owned,” I also have a few stories of owning different iPod models over the years before the iPhone came… the iPhone.

My return to the Apple ecosystem started in 2004 with my first iPod, the iPod with a dock connector, after nearly ten years without any Apple products in my life. At the time, I was using a Windows PC and iTunes for Windows to manage my music library. Then, in 2005, I bought a Mac and moved everything on it. The 20-inches iMac G5 running Mac OS 10.4 Tiger and iTunes 7.1. For me, and for countless people, the iPod was the trigger for buying a Mac. Remember, you had to use a separate computer to manage the device’s content at the time.

The next iPod I bought was the fifth-generation iPod with a 30 MB hard drive. Then, a few months after a surprising release by Apple, in September 2007, I bought an iPod touch in November. At the time, the iPhone wasn’t available in Canada. The iPod touch was the closest thing I could get to the iPhone. I always considered the iPod touch the most accessible iPhone experience, but without the phone. As noted by John Gruber, the iPod touch often looked like what could be the future of the iPhone, with a slimmer and maybe a more stylish design than the iPhone. The iPod touch nature allowed its designers to be more adventurous.

My still working iPod touch
My still working iPod touch.

The iPod touch has a special place in my experience with the Apple ecosystem. Thanks to the iPod touch, I became an indie iPhone, oops iPod touch applications developer from 2009 to 2013. I was intrigued by the device and its inner working, so I started exploring Xcode and Objective-C. As a reminder, my background lies in computer science. At some point, I had three applications for sale on the App Store and ran a blog about sharing my experience (have a look from the web.archive.com: www.buildingiphoneapps.com.) I stopped using the iPod touch when I bought my first iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, back in 20091. The iPhone essentially killed the iPod touch, slowly but surely.

I not only owned a few iPod models, but I also bought a few iPod as gifts too: the original iPod mini, many iPod nano and a blue fifth-generation iPod touch. I made many of my family members delighted with these.

An iPod nano
An iPod nano

From a design perspective, the iPod product line represents a long stretch of hugely different designs by Apple. Some of them were pretty successful, others not. To me, the worst design was undoubtedly the squarish third-generation iPod nano. It looked terrible, lame, and weird, but holding it in hand wasn’t great either. The best iPod design: the fifth-generation iPod nano. Second best iPod design: the iPod Classic. In the third position: the last iPod touch. The most intriguing design: the 7th generation iPod nano, which was like a mixture of an iPod touch and a smaller iPod nano. The only iPod to include an FM Radio to my knowledge. I never owned an iPod shuffle but always thought they filled an essential niche of audiophiles.

Now I wonder if I should buy an iPod touch while still available. At 249 CAN$, it’s not cheap, and there aren’t that many use cases for it: a dedicated music player? A small picture frame? I cannot find a serious reason other than satisfying my nostalgia. I won’t buy one, of course. Yet, I suspect the iPod touch remaining inventories will sell pretty quickly. As for @BasicAppleGuy, I have many fond memories of the iPod. Bye bye iPod.

  1. My iPod touch is still in working condition.

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