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The Curious Case of Apple’s iPod: Is it dying?

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An avid creative whose word plays so much that words say I play too much; a Ki'shon flow. Life is a journey and we're all full of stories.

‘Millions saw the Apple fall, only Newton asked why.’ Bernard Baruch

‘I never go anywhere without my iPod’ – Robert Carlyle 

’iPod, therefore I Am.’ 

The world of Apple is one that everyone has come in contact with and experienced at some point in their lives, be it their iWatch, the iPhone, the iPad, the Mac or the iPod. We can all attest to the fact that Apple has done an awesome job of introducing awesomeness to us in all these devices we use if not daily on a very regular level. The curious thing however about some of their products is that they seem to be fading in relevance, or at least that’s what I think when everyone including my best friend told me to just give up on my 5th generation iPod I’d been using for over 4 years and get an iPhone instead.

The argument made sense and his points were compelling, I mean the iPhone can do everything the iPod can and even more so why waste money to purchase one or rather fix it in this case. He wasn’t the only one, everyone assumed the iPod was an iPhone and I allowed them to think that until I told them later or they found out themselves.

I like music, my day begins with music and notably ends with it. So to me, having a device strictly for listening to music wasn’t a luxury even though it became, it was a necessity.

But very few people share this perspective and would rather rubbish the whole concept and in effect rubbish Apple’s efforts to continue the lineage of the iPod. Now, this is based on a geographical surrounding that isn’t Apple’s first choice market-wise.

If they are still producing it, it probably means their target market is still patronizing the franchise and that is cool, maybe people like me weren’t designed for this ecosystem in the first place. But then it seeks to ask the question, is the concept of the iPod dying?

With the concept of music players, we have seen generation to generation come up with the things that marked them via their timeline; the Walkman; Koss’ stereo phones were circumaural, meaning the earpads would engulf your ears.

The first generation of iPod came in 2001 and featured a 5GB hard drive, FireWire port for syncing, and a physically-rotating scroll wheel that could save 1,000 songs. Today, there are three versions of iPod– the ultra-compact iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano and the touchscreen iPod Touch. Creating a device that was specifically designed to just play music has always been a trend in a generation, but no one ever invested as much as Apple has over the years to make the player a brand that could stand on its own.

I’m pretty sure that influenced their decision to give the iPod its screen to not just listen to music but to be able to do some basic functions that it’s other Apple siblings could do, like browse with Wi-Fi or type out notes or even take decent pictures.

So why is it that all these resources have evidently been pooled into making the iPod one of the greats and yet it doesn’t seem to be receiving the recognition it deserves, at least in this part of the world. There are several reasons that I believe people need to start taking note of what has been made possible because of the work and effort put into the iPod by Apple.

The Listening experience; ‘With iPod, Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go,” words from the late Steve Jobs as the first iPod launched in 2001. “With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.’ He was right. From the iconic design the iPod adopted in its journey to the top, the trademark white-colored earphones and the seamless way of getting from one track to the other, the listening experience has improved on a magnitude of note.

In our part of the world, people are much more inclined to listening to singles rather than albums; which has even made the quality of music we have questionable because artists can release banger after banger but their album sense seems to still be infantile.

The iPod came, first of all, to put all your music in one organized place, making it easy to scroll your way or touch your way to any track at all, introduced us to the concept of listening to music on a shuffle mode which in itself doesn’t sit well with people but when allowed becomes an interesting way of listening to new music and new artists or even old classics you wouldn’t listen to on a normal day, and thirdly made it possible not listen to music uninterrupted by phone calls, message alerts of notifications.

That peace of uninterrupted music, if you can’t appreciate it then you’re missing something special about listening to music. The truth is, when you listen to an album on iTunes or an iDevice, the way they’ve designed it – you don’t even feel the next track is coming up and that’s how seamless they’ve made the whole experience.

The inability to appreciate the unique product they have. I think there’s still the idea that Apple was a computer-based tech company first before anything else. And the next thing people will associate with Apple is their iPhone. Leander Kahney believes it was the iPod that solidified Apple’s mainstream appeal. ‘Before the iPod, Apple had a reputation for making nice but expensive computers…

But as the iPod became cheaper and more popular, more and more consumers were introduced to the Apple brand. Someone who got an iPod for Christmas would wander into the Apple Store and start checking out the other products.

Next thing you know, they’ve replaced their old PC with a MacBook. Then they buy an iPhone, then an iPad. So the iPod has a tremendous ‘halo effect’ — the halo from the iPod shines a light on Apple’s other products. It took a while, but Apple these days is thoroughly mainstream.’ Even though that is a story that happens out there a lot, down here it’s just the Mac and the iPhone, the iPad looks

like a luxury device here and the iPod just doesn’t make sense. Jonathan Seff, who also notes the ‘halo effect,’ suggests the real breakthrough came when Apple first launched an iPod that worked with a Windows PC, and then when it introduced iTunes for Windows.

But that’s the thing about it, it’s a franchise and you can never understand the noise people make about the Apple brand till you use one of their devices. If nothing at all, the iPod stands in a class of its own and the iPod touch gives you experience almost similar to handling an iPhone.

I am ending this on a personal request though, if Apple wouldn’t mind we’d love to see how they take their already ultra-slim iPods and give them the XR, XS and Pro Max kind of screen just because they can. And when they are done with it, they should just send me one with my name on it. Afterward, if they do want to stop producing the franchise, we’d know that they moved heaven and earth and conquered the seas to make the music listening world and the listening experience one of a kind and that we would gladly tip our hats to that.

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