The first Apple product I ever owned was the fifth-generation “iPod with Video”. 60GB. Black. A classic beauty. It was then that I saw the magic of Apple’s iTunes ecosystem, the elegance of organizing your music, and being able to carry your entire collection with you, wherever you go.
With the emergence of iOS and devices like the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad, this notion of the mobile music library has been somewhat distorted. The Classic has been reduced in prominence, evident by a lack of mention or update at the most recent iPod event last year.
This is quite sad, really. But, alas, inevitable. I could wax lyrical about the multitude of benefits there are in owning this iconic design, but the truth is, technology moves on. And we need to move with it. It’s obvious that, for the guys at 1 Infinite Loop, iOS is the future. We see it with the transition of the mobile OS’s features to it’s big brother, OS X, in the two most recent releases (Lion and Mountain Lion). And we see it in the way the public recognizes Apple: not particularly with its Macintosh lineup, but with the iPad: an icon of the 2010s, in much the same way its ancestor, the iPod, was for the 2000s.
That old 5G iPod with Video died on me about four years later. They said it was a harddrive failure. For three months I went without an iPod to play the soundtrack of my life; I had to even resort to using the BlackBerry (shock, horror, gasp) to listen to my then-newly acquired OneRepublic album. It was difficult times, my friend. But then I got a replacement: the new iPod classic. Brushed-aluminium charcoal. Significantly thinner. And a whopping 100GB of additional capacity (bringing it up to 160GB). Just as the iPad is to most people today, that iPod was (and still is) magical for me.
Sounds weird, calling something as mundane as an iPod classic “magical”, when we have more interesting mobile gadgets like the iOS brethren. But the classic is just that: classic. It does what the iPod was originally intended to do: have your entire collection at hand, so that you can access whatever track you’re in the mood for, whenever. No distracting apps, phone calls, wallpapers or smooth-glass interface that detracts from the tactility that is so valued when on a crowded bus and wanting to skip to the next song without having to look at the screen.
It still rocks, that’s for sure. But for how long more, I can’t be certain. My only hope is that Apple continues to carry the core value of the original iPod over to their new platform. The era of the iPod is over. But the magic of the original iPod – the entire music library concept, the simplicity, the elegance: I sure hope that remains with us for many more decades to come.