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Farewall iPod, I Never Really Liked You Anyway

One of Apple's announcements from last week that I haven't touched on yet is the death of the classic iPod, the life changing machine that began the transformation of Apple from struggling also-ran to powerhouse technology leader.

It's almost thirteen years ago since Steve Jobs announced the first iPod and it was, without exception, the most disappointingly underwhelming Apple reveal of all time. Well it was for me anyway. The pre-event hype - restricted to the tiny minority of Apple users - had suggested that what Apple was about to launch was a replacement for the Newton.

At the time Apple was undergoing a small, but important mini-recovery, the iMac and iBook had refreshed it's design language and the PowerBook was now a competitive portable powerhouse. Next to no-one owned or used one though. The prospect of an all-improved Newton to compete with the clunky Pocket PC and limited functionality Palms was exciting. A Newton from new-Apple was doubly so.

When Steve Jobs unveiled an MP3 player you can imagine the disappointment. MP3s? I've been playing them from the CF card in my Pocket PC for years, who the hell is going to buy one of those? This blog didn't exist then, but I was vociferous in my disappointment on UK Mac forums and about half of other comments were similarly disappointed. Where was our Newton?

And for the first few years we were right to be disappointed. The iPod was a success with Mac users, but there were so few of us then it hardly registered with the wider public. That's mostly because the Firewire connection wasn't common on PCs - and until the iPod 2G there was no Windows support anyway.  Almost by accident, Apple's embracing of PC users created a success story of the iPod. Sales went crazy and until the launch of the iPhone there was no stopping the iPod as it became Apple's largest product.

For the last few years the iPod (now called the iPod Classic) has been on its way out. iPhone sales overtook those of the music player in 2010 and in the last couple of years sales figures have dropped off the cliff. Last week's announcement of its death was a shock only in how long Apple delayed it.

For me the iPod always reminded me of that missing Newton replacement - something that I had to wait another seven years for, until the launch of the iPhone 3G. I never bought one - there was always a better way to enjoy my digital music - and I don't mourn its passing.

As the product that truly saved Apple though, its death is a significant moment.


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