Is the Classic iPod a Goner?

By  |  Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Heavenly iPodTumblr developer/blogger Marco Arment has posted his best guesses about what Apple will announce–iPodwise, at least–at its music event next Wednesday (Technologizer will be there to liveblog the news). Arment’s predictions seem logical enough–which doesn’t guarantee their accuracy, of course–and the most interesting thing about them is that he thinks that Apple will discontinue the iPod Classic, the high-capacity, small-screen, no-touch, no-apps model that’s the direct descendent of the original 2001 iPod.

In the era in which the iPod Touch is unquestionably the most exciting iPod and the Nano is the dominant “traditional” iPod, are there any reasons why Apple wouldn’t kill the Classic?

Hmmm, let’s see.

Sentiment? No, if anything Apple takes pleasure in brutally murdering things people are fond of, such as the original bulbous iMac, if it thinks their time has passed. It’s unlikely to keep the Classic around simply because it’s iconic.

Sales? They’re in decline for old-school iPods in general, and the Classic has presumably been particularly hard hit. If there were no Classic, some of the folks who would have bought it will presumably buy a different iPod instead. (The whole category of hard disk-based MP3 players is winding down, as witness the reports that Microsoft will discontinue its disk-based Zune.)

Price? At $249, the Classic is $20 more than the 8GB iPod Touch, and $50 less than the 16GB Touch. It doesn’t let Apple hit a particular price point; the decision to buy a Classic is never about how much money a consumer has to spend.

Storage? There’s the rub. The Classic’s 120GB of disk space provides nearly four times the capacity of the next roomiest iPod, the 32GB Touch. It’s the only iPod with enough room to hold all of a truly mammoth music collection; it can also contain dozens of movies at a time. It’s the only iPod that doesn’t make omnivorous entertainment fans pick and choose what stuff they put on their media player.

Of course, if Apple were able to introduce an iPod Touch with 128GB of RAM at a reasonable price, it would render the Classic instantly superfluous. I don’t see that happening, at least not this week (a 128GB thumb drive costs as much as a high-end iPod Touch). A 64GB Touch is more plausible, presumably. But if a 64GB Touch was the new top of the iPod line in terms of capacity, it would mean a 50% drop. (Apple already ratcheted back iPod capacity when it eliminated the 160GB Classic.)

It still seems a little early to me for the Classic to go away, and for what it’s worth (not much!) there’s a rumor that there will be a new Classic with a camera. But maybe Apple is betting that massive amounts of storage simply isn’t as appealing as all the upsides of the Touch (way better interface, connectivity, apps, etc., etc.). I guess I couldn’t argue the point given that I used to cram classic-style iPods with stuff but pretty much stopped using mine the moment I got a 16GB iPhone 3G. I just got into the habit of managing the media on my handheld more carefully, a process that’s been less onerous than I anticipated.

Back before Apple announced the iPod Touch–but after it had unveiled the iPhone–I assumed that it would eventually release a device that looked a lot like a classic iPod and contained a large hard disk, but which ran the iPhone OS and sported a large multi-touch screen. At this point, I think it’s far more likely that Apple will stop making high-capacity iPods than that it’ll release such a player. But I’d still like to see–well, let’s call it the iPod Classic Touch.

Classic Touch

Any guesses about whether the Classic will survive to see the end of next week? If it doesn’t, is Apple making a mistake? Would you miss it for rational and/or emotional reasons?

 
18 Comments


Read more: , ,

13 Comments For This Post

  1. Miguel Rios Says:

    “if Apple were able to introduce an iPod Touch with 128MB of RAM”

    Did you mean 128 GB of disk space?

  2. ediedi Says:

    Many people like to have their entire music library at their disposal on the iPod. Unless replaced by something of similar (or larger) capacity, the Classic will not go away.

  3. AG Says:

    I’m another one who needs far, far more storage than my phone will allow. (And since I’m carrying a Pre these days, battery life on the phone is also a problem. Not that I’d trade it for a iPwn, of course, but one makes one’s choices.) I hope the Classic isn’t kaput quite yet; I estimate that my current iPod has about a year left in it, and I’d appreciate not having that end-of-life decision complicated by my utter loathing for the Touch vs. my horror at the prospect of going Zune.

  4. Ray Cornwall Says:

    The problem with the 120/160 GB iPod Classics is the lack of hardware oomph; the software just doesn’t run as smooth as it does on the flash models. I still own a 160 GB iPod Classic, and would love to continue to do so, but if Apple’s going to continue this model, they need to upgrade the hardware a little bit to make the user experience as good as it is on the flash models. And I’m betting they don’t want to do that, that the numbers just don’t make sense for Apple to put any more money into the Classic line.

  5. Finn Jack Says:

    Hope Apple’s September rock and roll event going to be a month of technology this year. Let us wait and see whether Apple upgrades its classic iPod or presents a completely newer one.

  6. Tim F. Says:

    If the nano sticks around, Apple will still have a legacy iPod; one that still makes up a large share of Apple’s iPod sales. The Shuffle will always be the odd stepchild of an iPod. I don’t see why Apple wouldn’t continue to buy the last production runs of 1.8″ HDDs — keep up relations with Samsung and Toshiba, allow them to transition as well. All Apple has to figure out is: can we sell x million over the next 12-18 months?

    With almost all of the competition cutting off hard drives, Apple can not only maintain their share of the current market, they may actually grow some sales. Provide an iPod Classic (120GB) at a reduced price point, and Apple just has to manage the inventory. Those sales could still outsell the Zune HD. That market power is more effective now than speeding the transition to a new platform.

    The question for me is when does “Touch” become an antiquated or abandoned modifier of the core iPod — just like Mini, Photo, Color, Classic? Soon but not yet. Until then, as long as you think Apple can manage the inventory of a soon antiquated component that it happens to be one of the largest buyers of, they should probably keep it around for another generation.

  7. tom b Says:

    “Hope I die before I get old” Peter Townsend (who subsequently re-thought his position)

  8. Kip W Says:

    How about an iPod Touch that you could plug a thumb drive into?

  9. win39 Says:

    I hope it does not go away. An iPod Touch with 64MB replacing it would be a disaster. One thing that I notice is that the iPhone/iPodTouch filing system is just not very good for a large music collection. It is a great multitasker. It is OK for putting on a few playlists. The Classic is much better for me in organizing the music. A little bigger LCD would be welcome on the Classic though.

  10. Ed C Says:

    At this point it’s silly to beg Apple to keep the iPod Classic. The presentation has been already written, the products are already on their way to the stores.

    But having said that, lots of people seem to miss the fine print. Your 64 gig iPod only holds same number of songs as a 32 gig iPod IF those songs are encoded at the new iTunes standard (iTunes plus is 256 kbps instead of the old 128 kbps).

    Several months ago I wrote Apple and told them they should reconsider how they market their hard drive based iPods. Rather than look at it as a device that holds 40,000 songs, they should consider it only holding 20,000 songs at the new iTunes Plus format.

    I don’t want a 160 gig iPod because I have 40,000 songs. I want a 160 gig iPod because I want to encode 20,000 songs at iTunes Plus and carry my entire collection (and maybe a few TV episodes, too).

    We’ll find out Wednesday if Apple agrees with me.

  11. Stilgar Says:

    Well, the last round of MacBook Pros had SD slots right? Is it a big jump to think that a new iPod would have SD slots too?

  12. Imaxpower Imp500 Says:

    Whatever Apple decides but as memory and songs storage was concerned ipod classic beats all, and I love my ipod classic till today and I will have it till I can.

  13. james braselton Says:

    HI THERE YOU ARE RIGHT WHY BOTHER WITH THE OLD SLOW HARD DRIVE VERSION I HAVE HAD THE OLD 60 GB CLASIC AND FOUND OUT LAST NIGHT I CAN BUY A 64 GB FLASH IPOD TOUCH FOR $399 AND IF THEY UP IT TO 128 GB AND ADD SDXC CARDS UP TOO 2 TERABYTES THEN HARD DRIVES WILL NOLONGER BE IN EXITANCE WILL APPLE WORKING ON A 128 GB FLASH IPHONE FOR 2012 AND WORKING ON A 500 TERABYTE IPOD OR IPHONE AT 500 TERABYTES OF DATA 127 MILLION SONGS OR 127,000,000 IN ABOUT 20 YEARS FOR 2020 OR 2030 FOR 500 TERABYTES MP3 PLAYERS AND CELLPHONES

5 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. 09.08 – Around the Way « A Day & A Dream Says:

    [...] Is the Classic iPod A Goner? [Technologizer] [...]

  2. Rumor Roundup: Delays Might Trouble Apple’s Wednesday Event @ Technology News Says:

    [...] Death of the iPod Classic Our colleagues Marco Arment, Harry McCracken and Dan Frakes agree it’s possible Apple will discontinue the hard drive-based iPod Classic, [...]

  3. Apple Rumors Abound: iPod Delay, Jobs Keynote, More @ Technology News Says:

    [...] Death of the iPod Classic Our colleagues Marco Arment, Harry McCracken and Dan Frakes agree it’s possible Apple will discontinue the hard drive-based iPod Classic, [...]

  4. Apple Rumors Abound: iPod Delay, Jobs Keynote, More « Coolbeans Says:

    [...] Death of the iPod Classic Our colleagues Marco Arment, Harry McCracken and Dan Frakes agree it’s possible Apple will discontinue the hard drive-based iPod Classic, [...]

  5. Taking New Bets On the End of iPod Classic Says:

    [...] By Jared Newman  |  Posted at 1:46 pm on Thursday, August 26, 2010 With iPod sales down for the last two years, predicting the death of iPod Classic is now an annual tradition. [...]

Comment on This Story