Here's to Apple not killing the iPod classic

As always, the rumour mill is heating up as the next Apple event approaches. This time, one rumour that seems to be everywhere (here, here, here, here) is that Apple may discontinue the iPod shuffle and the iPod classic.

I'm not sure about the shuffle. It makes sense to me except for the price. At US$49 it's US$100 less than the nano, which is the next model up. The shuffle can almost be an impulse buy for many and a good choice to fill a christmas stocking. Unless Apple drops the price of the iPod nano I don't think they should discontinue the shuffle. But then, what do I know? There may be better reasons for them to do it.

The iPod classic on the other hand, makes almost perfect sense. It's old technology, can't run apps, and it uses a spinning hard drive. And it's 10 years old this month.

But the one thing it has going for it is the huge storage space. At 160GB it's almost 100GB more than the 64GB iPod touch for US$150 less.

For those of us who already have an iPhone, there's no need for the touch. In fact, there's very little need for an iPod unless you either need (or want) a huge hard drive, or like me, have a specific use for one.

A few months ago I wrote an article titled "Is the iPod classic not a good choice anymore?" in which I explained why I resurrected my iPod classic and now love it… again.

Is the iPod Classic not a good choice anymore?

Marco Arment wrote an article about choosing the right laptop for your needs. It’s an interesting post and one you should read if you’re looking at buying a new MacBook. However, since I’m not in the market for a new laptop, it’s the following quote that made me stop and think:

The iPod Classic still exists for people who “need” to bring their entire music collections with them everywhere. (Some people really need that, but most Classic buyers simply “need”; it.) They can do that, but it comes with huge tradeoffs, most notably an outdated, limited design with an often-sluggish interface that misses out on the much more broad usefulness of the iPod Touch. And many Classic buyers would actually be much happier with a 32 GB Touch if they were willing to budge on their all-music-all-the-time “need”.

He’s using the iPod as an analogy, but if I look at this comment in itself, I can see there’s a lot to it. I thought about this when I got my first iPhone. It was a 32 GB iPhone 3, and I never used up all the space, even while carrying more music than I could effectively listen to. At the time, my old 80 GB iPod Classic was spending a lot of time in a drawer, abandoned in favour of my new toy. I thought about selling it more than once, but never did.

And then I changed cars. In my previous car I hooked up the iPod (and iPhone later) with one of those radio transmitters. It sounded awful and I got static and interference constantly. It sucked. So when the time came to get a new car, the iPod/iPhone connectivity was at the top of my list of required features. The car I eventually got talks directly to the iPod/iPhone and I can control it from either the main audio system in the dash or from the controls in the steering wheel. It’s bliss. Almost.

The car doesn’t recognise the iPod/iPhone wirelessly (which would be absolute bliss). I have to connect it to a cable in the glove box to listen to music, so it has to sit hidden away out of reach.1

That’s where my trusty old iPod Classic comes in handy. I just plug it in when I get in the car and leave it there. I’ve got all my music, podcasts, and audiobooks and I don’t have to think about it. I also can keep the iPhone in my pocket and don’t have to mess with it every time I get in/out of the car. Plus, an iPod Touch would really be a waste as I never use or even look at the iPod’s design or interface. In fact, that “often-sluggish interface” is completely irrelevant.

This setting works great for me and I believe a great use for the iPod Classic. True, I don’t need my entire library with me at all times, but with some great playlists it doesn’t affect me either. And I always have a full back up of my iTunes library.

  1. UPDATE: I guess I wasn’t clear on what I meant as a few people have asked so I wanted to clarify. The car can connect to the iPhone via Bluetooth but only for the phone part. To see the music library I need to physically connect it via a cable in the glove box. It’s dumb. So in order to have the best of both worlds I need to keep a device in the glove box for music and a phone in my pocket for the phone functionality. That’s why I love my old iPod again. It stays in the glove box and I just keep the iPhone in my pocket. ↩