Exit music: the iPod Shuffles off this mortal coil – The Guardian

Name: iPod

Age: 16.

Appearance: Small, rectangular, retro.

What is it? You want to know what an iPod is?

Yes. OK, the word iPod refers to Apple’s sleekly designed range of MP3 players, which were once very cool and popular.

Sorry … “MP3 player”? Give me strength. An MP3 player is a portable electronic device that stores and plays music or other audio files, and is usually used with headphones.

You mean like an iPhone? Yes, but it can’t make phone calls, send or receive messages, track your location, stream video, connect to the internet or run apps in general.

I see. So it’s like the broken old iPhone that my gran uses to listen to steamy audiobooks? Look, the iPod built the world we live in. Before it, computers were big, ugly machines that confused everybody. It turned them into something desirable that would slot easily into our lives. It was the great turning point for Apple as a company, and the template for the iPhone. It gave rise to the “podcast”. And now it’s gone. Show some respect.

What do you mean, “gone”? It’s gone the way of road atlases, pocket calculators, dictation machines … Apple has quietly but officially announced that it’s not making any more iPod Nanos or iPod Shuffles, the last two proper iPods.

Proper in what way? Well, they still sell the iPod Touch, but that’s never been strictly an MP3 player, more a smartphone that doesn’t do calls. The Nano and Shuffle were still essentially the same device that Steve Jobs launched on stage in 2001, and they hadn’t been updated for five and seven years respectively. “We are simplifying our iPod lineup,” an Apple spokesperson said, euphemistically.

So what happens now? Some people will still use iPods for a while, of course, but in the 2020s you’ll show them to your kids in museums.

And what comes next? Has that watch thing changed the world? The Apple Watch? No, not really.

How about Web 2.0? Yes, that was popular, but it’s kind of happened now. No one really knows, to be honest. Self-driving cars are coming, but that will be a few more years.

Probes in your brain? It’s maybe still too early for that.

Do say: “I miss road atlases.”

Don’t say: “I prefer Spotify anyway.”


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