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What replaces the iPod for Apple?

The gadget maker has announced the end of the iconic product after 21 years, with the iPod Touch on sale while supplies last.

Original iPod

Computer and phone maker Apple announced the end of the iPod on Tuesday, May 10, bringing to an end a run of 21 years for the music-playing gadget in its various guises, but which will long be remembered for its click-wheel interface and white ear buds.

Apple said it was discontinuing the iPod Touch, the last remaining iPod model, which would be available to buy while supplies last.

In truth, the iPod has long been on the way out, replaced by smart phones, such as the iPhone, which can both store music and access music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Apple last updated the iPod Touch in 2019.

Apple is clear about what replaces the iPod, saying in the press release announcing the demise of the iPod: “iPhone is the best device for streaming Apple Music or storing an entire music library on the go.”

iPod launched in 2001 with 1,000 song capacity

Apple boss Steve Jobs, who had returned to the company in 1997 after his acrimonious departure in 1985 from the company he cofounded, appeared on stage in his usual jeans and black turtleneck to announce the original iPod. “Music’s a part of everyone’s life. Music’s been around forever. It will always be around,” Jobs said in his presentation of the revolutionary device, with its iconic design.

“1,000 songs in your pocket” was Apple’s tagline for the music player, while the white earbuds that Apple included with the music player quickly became a status symbol.

What replaces the iPod for Apple?
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Apple's iPod adverts focused on the player...and those white earbuds.

Some were less enthusiastic. “”No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame,” said Rob Malda on Slashdot on October 1st, 2001. (The Nomad was a pre-iPod MP3 player).

But what Malda and many others hadn’t picked up on was the ease of use of the iPod, although at first sales were limited by the fact it would only work with Apple’s Macintosh computers.

But by 2002 the iPod’s 2nd generation worked on Windows, the operating system from rival Microsoft found on the majority of PCs, and it was set for world domination.

The Classic iPod, with the click-wheel, went through six generations, being discontinued in 2014, while Apple released two versions of the iPod Mini before moving to the iPod Nano, the iPod Shuffle (with its somewhat curious and at times frustrating lack of display) and finally the iPod Touch, which was effectively an iPhone without the actual phone bit - it had a touch screen and an internet connection. Along the way the iPod family picked up the ability to show photos, play games, and store and play video.

iPod family
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The gadget maker has announced the end of the iconic product after 21 years, with the iPod Touch on sale while supplies last.

In total Apple reports it sold over 400 million iPods, but the rate of sales slumped as smart phones took over, leaving the concept of a dedicated music player far less useful than before.

The spirit of iPod lives on

According to Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, the spirit of iPod “lives on,” despite today’s announcement.

“Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the way iPod did impacted more than just the music industry — it also redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared,” said Joswiak.