Editorial: iPhone and iPod touch Rising, Click Wheel iPods Falling | iLounge Article

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Editorial: iPhone and iPod touch Rising, Click Wheel iPods Falling

To the extent that such a thing can be called official, it’s official: Apple has confirmed that its “traditional MP3 player business”—iPod nano, classic, and shuffle—is declining, and now expects the declines to continue as the iPod touch and iPhone platforms grow in popularity. The message is clear for those who want to hear it: Apple’s future labors will be focused on multi-touch products, and more specifically, in pocket devices that do more than just play music and videos.

As iLounge’s Senior Editor, my beat is breaking news, and I see the comments that are posted by readers on a daily basis regarding stories we post. Over the last few weeks/months, I’ve noticed comments pointing out the fact that our News column—and, to a lesser extent, other portions of the site—has become increasingly focused on the iPhone and iPod touch. Several especially wacky comments have implied that we’re somehow skewing our coverage towards iPhone and iPod touch products in an effort to gain more page views. As most readers realized before Apple’s announcement, that simply isn’t the case, and for those who don’t understand, I’m going to explain why.

Let’s start at December of 2006. While some iPod enthusiasts were, shall we say, less than enthusiastic about Apple’s decision to keep the fifth-generation iPod design around for another year, the second-generation iPod nano was a hit, and new, genuinely exciting accessories were popping up on a weekly basis from developers and manufacturers all over the world. We were flooded with speakers, wireless attachments, and cases to an extent most people will never realize. Plus, fans of iTunes had the Apple TV to look forward to—finally, an iPod-like product with high-definition output for TVs! Sure, the enhanced iPod 5G and iPod nano 2G were more like their predecessors than not, but goodwill towards Apple was quite possibly at an all-time high.

Then came January, and the introduction of the iPhone, and from that point on, nothing was the same. The iPhone became Apple’s latest “revolutionary” product, and iPods became second fiddles, deliberately held behind in features relative to the more expensive new toys. News remained fairly balanced between iTunes, Apple TV, iPod, and iPhone products for the next year, all the way up to Apple’s iPhone OS 2.0 event in March of 2008. That’s when things changed again. While no one predicted the explosive popularity of the App Store, one thing was very much apparent after the event—Apple was laying the foundation for its future multifunction devices, and had decided that the iPod touch and iPhone were going to be its focus going forward.

The last year and a half have shown that to be true, as the iPhone 3G expanded the iPhone’s capabilities with GPS, the second generation iPod touch gained a speaker—notably, the first iPod to ever sport one—and the iPhone 3GS expanded the platform yet again with a compass and video camera. Simultaneously, the App Store raced ahead of competitors, besting even the most ambitious Apple expectations, with more than 1.5 billion downloads and over 65,000 apps available. During the same period of time, electronic accessory development very significantly cooled off, in part because of iPhone-specific engineering challenges, and new authentication chips that Apple requires; the other part was that few companies were coming up with truly breakthrough accessories. Our coverage has continued to track the major developments in iPod and iPhone hardware, software, and accessories just as we did in the past, only the proportions of each type of coverage have shifted as hardware has become a June/September affair, software has become daily news, and accessories have become less common.

 

Over time, Apple’s touch-sensitive devices are going to continue to grow in importance. Today, the iPod touch is now as much a computer as any iPhone, and each iteration continues to improve in functionality. At the same time, the iPod nano seems to be getting more iPhone-like with every update, now sporting Cover Flow, an accelerometer, and, if reports are correct, a camera in its upcoming 2009 update. As soon as Apple can figure out how to get a usable build of iPhone OS running on a device of roughly the same size, you can bet that it, too, will be opened up to apps, enhanced games, and more.

Why bother? Because the cost of adding more than just music playback functionality to a device has fallen so significantly over time that a $149 iPod nano—and cheaper competitors—can now play photos, videos, and games as well, consuming so little space that an iPod shuffle almost stops making sense as an alternative. At some point, the only thing stopping a device from being app-capable will be its lack of screen surface area, not whether it can hold the processors, flash RAM, and battery to run the iPhone OS. That time is coming fast.

 

All of this is a long way of saying that it’s not that we’re ignoring the “traditional” iPods, but rather, it’s obvious where the market is moving, and we’re reporting on it as it changes. In time, the iPod classic will likely disappear, and the iPod nano might even become an iPod nano touch. Who knows. The point is that we report on the news that is happening now, and we don’t control it. If we could write about new applications and game development going on for Click Wheel devices, believe us, we would, but every indication is that this is not happening. Instead, the iPhone, iPod touch, iPhone OS, and App Store only become more important each day, as it becomes more and more clear that the future of the company’s portable devices—indeed, the future of the iPod—rests with these components rather than those from year’s past.

Recent polls have made clear that not all of our readers own an iPhone or iPod touch, and we understand that it’s frustrating for some users to see these devices dominate the news cycles. From an editorial perspective, we’d love to be able to share more news about the iPod nano, iPod classic, iPod shuffle, and Apple TV, but the truth of the matter is that they’re sitting in the shadows these days. When there is news to report on these devices, you can be sure that we’ll bring it to you. Until then, our advice is to enjoy the iPod(s) you have, and try not to get too worked up—at some point, when you’re ready for your first iPhone OS device, you may even be glad that so many developments have taken place to set the stage for your purchase.

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Comments

1

It’s a terrible mistake to forget about Classic, Nanos and Shuffles. These 3 devices are deep into real music lovers. Apple can easily lead on MP3 players but the cell phone world is too competitive.

Apple is way too focused on the Iphone. It’s time for other corporations to concentrate on the MP3 player and music business. Long live the Click Wheel.

Posted by waver80s on July 23, 2009 at 9:06 PM (CDT)

2

I think the death of the traditional iPods is greatly exaggerated—at least for the moment.

It’s certainly undeniable that the sexiness pendulum has swung in favor of the touch and iPhone, but I still think the traditional iPods still have a lot to offer.

First of all, the shuffle, nano, and classic each help fufill a different niche, whether it be a cheap iPod for taking to the gym or a high-capacity player for folks who have huge music and video collections.

Second, even though they’re not as feature rich as their multi-touch siblings, the traditional iPods do one thing really well—play music. Say what you will about the click wheel, but in some instances, it beats the pants off of multi-touch, especially when your iPod’s hooked up to your car stereo and you need to find a song or podcast quickly. Instead of having to unlock an iPhone or touch, then navigate to the right screen, the iPod click wheel makes it a much easier process, especially with one hand. And scrubbing through songs or podcasts on a click-wheel iPod is also so much easier.

Though the breakthroughs don’t come as fast and furious as they once used to for the click wheels and shuffle, they’re still a very good product that fill specific needs.

As long as Apple can still make money, they’ll still do shuffles, nanos, and classics. Remember that the numbers are only declining, not nosediving. If the sales figures fall off a cliff, killing off the products can be expected.

In the meantime, I’ll still enjoy both my 5G 60GB classic along with my 2G 32GB touch.

Posted by cxc273 on July 23, 2009 at 10:49 PM (CDT)

3

I remember an editorial long back here, which spoke about how a 1 million unit selling iPhone was holding a 10 million selling iPod at ransom, or something like that. It was a nice article and at that point of time I was really looking forward to a real high capacity iPod, so that I could hold lossless music and buy a nice set of earphones for it.

Flash-forward to now and, while I now have an iPhone 3G 16GB, I still am looking forward to a time when there will be a high capacity model for lossless music.

My key desire is capacity and “best of breed”. As long as the iPhone is there, I will not be tempted to buy a Classic, even though it is 120 GB (160 at one point of time). I just hope that when it does become feasible to have that kind of memory on the iPhone, it isn’t replaced with something entirely new.

The last iPod I bought was the iPod Photo 40 GB. But I really find something very appealing about the click wheel, the no-nonsense interface and the ability to have my entire library with me all the time. That is something that just isn’t possible with the iPhone, even though we are 2 years into the iPhone life cycle. The 3rd generation iPod had 40 GB. That was my first and favourite iPod.

Posted by Sreedhar on July 24, 2009 at 12:53 AM (CDT)

4

I had a Classic 160 GB that just died two days ago.  I loved it. I used my 160 GB in the car 24/7 and added movies on it for trips with the family. But now that it’s gone I want to buy a new one but not sure if I should at this point in time. I have two iPhones, one 3GS and a 3G that the kids use now to play games, listen to music watch movies on.

Posted by Delric on July 24, 2009 at 11:06 AM (CDT)

5

In 2002, I bought the 40GB 2nd generation iPod. It has run every night, all night long for 7 years now. I use it this way because I wake up frequently during the night and the books that I have on the iPod are interesting and help me to relax and go back to sleep.  I’ll be very sorry when I can no longer get the replacement parts to keep it going. I had one hard drive and two battery replacements to help it give me the yeoman service it has. Nevertheless I understand why MP3 iPods won’t live forever.If I had to choose now between the (MP3)iPod and the iPod Touch (which I also have), I would have to choose the Touch because it can do everything that the MP3 iPod can do, plus everything else. The “everything else” still takes my breath away.

Posted by Jaigin on July 25, 2009 at 6:54 PM (CDT)

6

Yea I have a 3rd gen iPod nano and 1st gen iPod touch and all my friends have aipod touch and if thay don’t update the clickweel iPods thay will be gone

Posted by Chris on July 26, 2009 at 10:27 PM (CDT)

7

I loved my 15GB 3rd Gen iPod with the glowy red buttons. He charged and sync’ed with firewire and while he’s not as shiny and new as my 16GB iphone 3G, it’s eery that they’re so close in specs and color but are worlds apart in functionality. Whenever i start to use my ipod after a long break I wonder why the screen’s touch sensitivity is gone. Then I remember it doesn’t have a touch screen and I feel bad for making it feel inadequate.

Posted by nessim on July 27, 2009 at 4:26 AM (CDT)

8

I don’t see the big deal it just seems like a natural evolution although, I definitely think it’s easier tot use tactile controls while running/mowing the lawn than using a touch screen, I still really want a iPod Thoch but I wont buy one until I can get at least 16gb for $199 but until than I’m sticking with my nano.

Posted by Bagpipes on July 27, 2009 at 1:12 PM (CDT)

9

my 5G 80 GB ipod still works fine though I don’t know for how long.  my beef w the touch is it’s low storage capacity; till apple develops one w more space i’ll take care of my present ipod

Posted by hypace on July 27, 2009 at 6:29 PM (CDT)

10

Hello I’m using my itouch 2g to post this but I still personaly think that my iPod nano 4g is the greatest even though I’ve been collecting iPods since I was 12 and I’m fifteen now but all I’m saying is that click wheels are for real music lovers and face the iPod touch isn’t all that great without a wifi connection so long live click wheels p.s. I am realy dissapointed that they are making a camera in the new iPod nano that just kills off the idea of having a computer ..... And apple should make you have a computer before they give u any kind of iPod

Posted by Jordan on July 30, 2009 at 5:04 PM (CDT)

11

The success of the ipod as a music player is its failure.
Apple had a plan and it was to give us an excellent music player…and it did. In return, Apple was counting on selling us a ton of music from itunes…which it didn’t.
People downloaded free from other sites, ripped each others cds and otherwise shared w/ each other. Basic idea was you could buy the ipod and walk away from Apple.
Now comes the iphone and the touch and all the apps that can be sold along with it. Not to mention the pricey phone plans. All this generates revenue back to apple.
Evolution, no…capitalism, yes. Not that there’s anything wrong w/ that.
I will buy a touch at some point whem my 5g dies. Hopefully memory size will be better. 60gb would be good.

Posted by moogs on August 4, 2009 at 10:26 PM (CDT)

12

My first ipod was a 30 gb 5g video ipod> it was my favorite. Then it broke and I replaced it with a 32gb 2g ipod touch. The ipod touch is great, I really appreciate the extra features, but whenever I encounter a classic click wheel ipod, I get this crazy amazing nostalgia. The click wheel is just better for my high capacity music library. It takes quite a few more touch screen clicks to get to the music I want. And despite the gigantic screen, I don’t have enough memory on my touch to hold my video library. Its just all disapppointing. I wish I could have the features of the touch with the interface and high capacity of the classic

Posted by Becca on January 8, 2010 at 7:34 PM (CST)

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