→ ‘The sad truth about iPods’


Serenity Caldwell, on iMore, concludes a brief piece on the refreshed iPod nano and shuffle with these words:

Much as I love the delight of the iPod shuffle line, this is the latest in a long line of moves toward making the iPod obsolete. The Apple Watch is the future for semi-offline small devices you want to listen to while on the go; the nanos and shuffles of the world are the elegant, ancient weapons from a more civilized age of wired headphones and purchased music.

Long may they live on our shelves as reminders for what we used to have.

The concluding section of the article is titled The sad truth about iPods, and the article itself has this mouthful for a title: The iPod nano and shuffle won’t sync Apple Music songs, putting another nail in the new iPod coffin.

As one of the commenters aptly quips: “Hyperbole, much?”

iMore is the Apple-related site with the most active feed among the sites I follow, and I just can’t keep up with the amount of articles it produces on a daily basis, but I’ve read enough so far to say that the tone of this piece feels strangely off and somewhat dismissive. Since I use wired headphones and still purchase digital music, maybe I should feel honoured to be part of a “more civilised age,” but when I use my second-generation iPod shuffle or (brace yourselves) my 4GB iPod mini from 2004, they certainly don’t look like “ancient weapons” to me, still retaining the great usefulness they had on day one.

The gist of the whole article is: since this new iteration of iPod nanos and shuffles cannot take advantage of Apple Music directly or indirectly, they’re already obsolete, barely useful devices. (The subhead is RIP iPods, after all.)

This is a textbook case of tech writer’s tunnel vision. Just because the new iPods can’t be used the way Caldwell would love, it doesn’t mean they’re irrelevant.

The iPod nano and shuffle are probably the iPod models with the most varied target users and use cases. Streamed music and ‘rented’ music as opposed to ‘owned’ music may be the way we’re all headed, but we’re far from there. There are still a lot of people who put on their iPods the music they’ve purchased in digital form, the music they purchased in physical form and then ripped, and — let’s don’t be coy about this — the pirated music they’ve downloaded for free from the Internet in torrent format. I venture a guess and say that the number of people who either a) already own an iPod nano or shuffle and are willing to update them with this latest refresh; or b) are interested in the iPod nano and shuffle for their form factor, durability, low price, etc. — is still a greater number than those willing to pay $10 per month for Apple Music or similar streaming services.

Being able to copy to a new iPod nano or shuffle the offline music you’ve obtained via Apple Music’s service would surely be a nice-to-have feature, but I don’t think that these iPods are just ‘dead’ without it.

Another example of this tech writer’s tunnel vision is the following statement: The Apple Watch is the future for semi-offline small devices you want to listen to while on the go. This is being overly optimistic at best, an assumption just thrown out there for the sake of it. The Apple Watch might very well be that future in tech circles made of people who love premium Apple devices and have at least $349 to burn on a premium accessory. For casually listening to music while out and about, a lot of other people are just happy to clip an iPod shuffle to their jackets, trousers or bags. It’s way more affordable, it’s durable, its battery life is astounding, and if it gets lost or stolen it’s not the end of the world.


Update — A couple of articles that further prove my point:

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