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Apple discontinues its final iPod mannequin, marking the tip of a tech period



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For a era of people that lived, labored, and grew up within the 2000s, the phrase “iPod” was synonymous with music. Escaping the sight of these white ear buds was practically inconceivable. And regardless of the velocity with which smartphones took over our lives, Apple stored making its digital media gamers with out a lot fuss.

In an announcement Tuesday, the corporate stated it will proceed promoting the seventh-generation iPod contact “whereas provides final” — a quiet affirmation that the age of the iPod might lastly be over.

The transfer, whereas bittersweet for techies of a sure age, didn’t come totally without warning. For years, Apple has slowly culled its line of transportable media machines: the final iPod with the traditional click-wheel was discontinued in 2014, and the once-popular iPod nano followed-suit three years later.

“At present, the spirit of iPod lives on,” Apple’s senior vice chairman of worldwide advertising, Greg Joswiak, stated. “We’ve built-in an unbelievable music expertise throughout all of our merchandise, from the iPhone to the Apple Watch to HomePod mini, and throughout Mac, iPad, and Apple TV.”

Proper now, the considered a single-purpose machine just like the iPod can really feel hopelessly passe. To an extent, Apple felt the identical. The unique fashions solely performed music we bought, ripped and pirated, however they have been {followed} by variations that performed movies and, finally, the touch-screen fashions that continued as much as this week. However despite the fact that iPods have been finally (and fully) overshadowed by the iPhone, it’s onerous to understate the influence that they had on the corporate — and the individuals who used them.

Nowadays, Apple is price over $2 trillion and directs its consideration to every little thing from computer-processor design to Oscar-worthy film manufacturing. Within the years main as much as the unique iPod’s launch, nevertheless, Apple was solely simply rising from what iPod creator Tony Fadell referred to as a “loss of life spiral” in his new ebook.

After a string of not-quite-right leaders, prodigal CEO Steve Jobs returned to the corporate and shook up its laptop lineup with a slew of low cost, colourful iMacs in 1998. Then got here equally cheery iBooks a 12 months later. However it was arguably the primary iPod, unveiled in October 2001, that set a revived Apple down a distinct path — one which cemented its place in folks’s pockets, not simply on their desks.

Up to now, Apple had dabbled with different tremendous transportable devices, like some ill-fated digital cameras and the early PDA whose lasting legacy was a throwaway joke on “The Simpsons.” However in response to Leander Kahney, creator of the ebook “The Cult of iPod,” the corporate’s first MP3 participant was totally different.

“It actually was a fabulous gadget,” he informed The Washington Publish. “Really easy to make use of and the supply of a lot pleasure and pleasure — due to the music it contained, in fact. And it was the product that absolutely remodeled Apple, laid the groundwork for the iPhone and kick-started large development.”

Over the twenty years that {followed}, Apple collectively launched greater than two dozen iPod fashions, not together with the variants with totally different quantities of cupboard space. And in the course of the iPod’s tenure, numerous tech tendencies have come and gone — right here’s you, netbooks and 3D TVs. That’s simply the way it goes in an trade the place an organization is just pretty much as good as its subsequent product.

However despite the fact that the final iPods Apple ever plans to make are on sale now, it appears unlikely these gadgets will fully disappear from the cultural consciousness anytime quickly.

“I didn’t have an iPod rising up,” stated Bee Shipinski, a 19-year-old pupil in Boise, Idaho, born after Apple’s first iPod announcement. “They have been actually costly.” However a bent towards tinkering — plus frequent childhood publicity to these dancing silhouette commercials — helped flip Shipinski right into a fan of devoted music machines.

“With an iPod, all it does is play music. It doesn’t care about an Web connection, it doesn’t care a few license,” Shipinski, who makes use of they/them pronouns, stated. “It appears for the recordsdata, reads them, and it’s like, ‘Okay, right here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to play your music, and we’re going to play it actually d— effectively.’ ”

Fairly than enterprise into the calculated slickness of an Apple retailer, Shipinski purchased their first iPods in a thrift retailer in 2019 and finally determined to crack open the newer one for enjoyable. With assist from a restore information from a YouTuber referred to as DankPods — who has amassed a following of greater than 1 million subscribers keen on iPods and different early 2000s music gamers — Shipinski made their first modifications, or “mods.”

Shipinski isn’t alone. They’re one among a rising flock of people that have begun repairing and, in some circumstances, upgrading outdated iPods to work higher than they ever might earlier than. Fairly than outdated, comparatively delicate onerous drives, these tweaked fashions have been modified to learn music off low cost, roomy SD playing cards. And in response to a 17-year-old Irish Discord consumer named Leek Soup, folks usually set up larger batteries into the area these onerous drives used to take up.

“Different mods embody personalizing the outside of the iPod with totally different coloured faceplates, click on wheels and rear circumstances,” Leek Soup stated. “Individuals have additionally put in taptic engines from iPhones into [old iPods], to offer a little bit of tactile suggestions.”

So, sure, Apple’s announcement does formally mark the tip of an period. However judging by the numerous fashions on sale on eBay, it could be some time — if ever — earlier than folks lastly have to maneuver on from their valuable iPods.

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