Do we still need an iPod?

Apple's official website has five first categories, namely Mac, iPad, iPhone, Watch and Music. The first four are hardware, and the last Music is the only ecological service category. In the category of Music, it includes Apple Music, AirPods headsets, HomePod speakers, Beats devices, iPod touch players, and so on.

That's right, the iPod touch released in 2019 is still on sale and has not been taken off the shelves. It can be regarded as the "most retro" product currently available on Apple's official website, and there should not be one of them.

Remember that after the seventh-generation iPod touch was released, we commented that it was "undoubtedly the best choice for student parties and developers", and the price of 1599 yuan was considered the most affordable iOS device equipped with A10 Fusion processor at the time. .

After 1412 days of disappearance, with the return of iPod touch, the service Apple can provide is no longer iTunes, but with Apple Music and Apple News+, as well as video and game subscription services. iPod touch is not just a music player, but more It's like a distribution platform for Apple's content ecology.

Similarly, two years after the release of the seventh-generation iPod touch, the iPod may be updated again this year. Coincidentally, 2021 happens to be the 20th anniversary of the birth of the iPod, and Apple’s choice to update this fall may also be a tribute to the classics.

Rumors of the new iPod touch and iPod Max?

Both iPod touch and iPod Max are renderings. Among them, only iPod touch has a certain source of information, and iPod Max is just a "brain hole" product of a foreign designer.

The new iPod touch may arrive this fall. It is a source from Alexiander (@AppleLe257), and then Steve Moser of MacRumors released a design rendering of the new iPod touch to the outside world.

As can be seen from the picture, the new iPod touch is a reduced iPad Air, which is also close to the design style of the new iPhone. In addition, the screen size of the new iPod touch has come to 5.4 inches, which is equivalent to the current iPhone 12 mini.

The new iPod touch will use the Touch ID biometric method similar to the iPad Air's power button, and the back is the classic single-shot on the iPhone SE 2.

At the same time, Steve Moser also released another style of iPod touch. Relatively speaking, only the front panel is white. This design looks like a new iMac.

As for the brainstorming iPod Max, it comes from Parker Ortolani, editor of 9to5Mac. This set of rendering concepts is inspired by the iPod Classic and Apple will bring Lossless music and Dolby Atmos services to Apple Music subscribers in June.

In their concept, iPod Max is an iPod Classic with a larger and more delicate screen, which can use services such as Apple Music, podcasts, and News. And iPod Max can be paired with iPhone in a similar way to AirPods.

In view of the fact that Apple currently does not have wireless headphones that can support lossless music, 9to5Mac, a brain-inspiring master, also equipped iPod Max with a new pair of AirPods Max. The biggest highlight is that it can be passed through the extremely advanced 3.5mm headphone cable. Cable to listen to the lossless music provided by Apple Music.

In fact, before the seventh-generation iPod touch was released, there were many rumors that it would use a "full-screen" design, but no one thought that Apple would eventually launch a product with a "very retro" design style, which eventually fell to nothing. , There was not much splash, lying quietly in the corner of Apple's official website, covered by the light of iPhone, iPad, Mac and AirPods products.

It seems that it coincides with the 20th anniversary of the birth of the iPod, and people's eyes are focused on the iPod again.

The iPod series reappears, Apple's "conspiracy"

The iPod has played a pivotal role in Apple's history, it has made Apple, and it has carved music into Apple's DNA.

In 2001, the iPod was released, which was called "a breakthrough in digital devices." Two years later, the emergence of iTunes completely subverted the way people consume music at that time.

The combination of iPod + iTunes allows people to purchase, download and listen conveniently, providing an unprecedented, convenient and fast digital music consumption mode.

In 2013, iTunes sold a total of 25 billion songs to become the world's largest music distribution platform. Apple bundled 800 million credit cards with it, and accumulated a large number of paying users.

Starting with the iPod, Apple has used a small "brick" to shake the voice of the traditional record industry.

With the rise of smart phones, the iPhone has gradually become the center of people, and many devices have difficulty getting rid of the fate of being replaced. The same is true for the iPod, which gradually moves behind the iPhone.

However, at that time, the price threshold of an iPhone was very high, and iPod touch became a cheap device to popularize iOS. Especially when it comes to the fourth-generation iPod Touch, it is almost the sibling version of the iPhone 4. It has 80% of the iPhone's functions, but the price is much more peaceful.

▲ iPod touch 4. Picture from: iMore

At that time, in order to enable iPod touch to achieve nearly 100% of the function of iPhone, under the wisdom of the people, the magical accessory "Apple Peel" was born. With it, the iPod Touch is almost an iPhone. They also became "flawless" and affordable iOS devices that the student party could acquire at the time.

Later, Apple began to expand the iPhone product line, with the price reduction strategy of old phones and the existence of a vast second-hand market, giving the iPhone a larger audience coverage, and the number of iOS devices has become quite large.

To say that iPod + iTunes has replaced the traditional MP3 player market, the emergence and popularity of smart phones is one reason why iPods have fallen.

Apple’s former iPod + iTunes trump card combination has been replaced by the current iPhone + Apple Music, or AirPods + Apple Music. The latter seems to have a brighter future until Apple is about to launch "lossless" music.

For now, the lossless music service provided by Apple Music does not support its own AirPods wireless headphones, and if you want to connect wired headphones through your iPhone (or iPad), you need to pair with a DAC device to enjoy Apple's lossless music.

Either wait for Apple to launch its own Bluetooth transmission standard, or launch a new device that can directly connect and listen to lossless music, otherwise the more complicated ways to listen to lossless music are of little significance to popularization or to the general public.

And direct connection can listen to the losslessness of Apple Music. The once smashing iPod may be a good solution, and with the lossless and retransmitted iPod, this kind of player may be a good choice for Apple to enter the professional audio field. Opportunity.

Or, the iPod still adopts a low-price strategy, and the price is still maintained at around 1,599 yuan. With more reasonable hardware, it can replay the role of "content distribution platform" and push Apple Music, News or game subscription services to a wider range. crowd. Just like the original iPod, it will still be a "pioneer" device.

Do we still need an iPod?

Or, to listen without loss and play the role of a "content distribution platform", must the iPod be resurrected?

Starting from last year’s iPhone, many Apple products began to take the "tribute return" route. The right-angle edge design of the iPhone and iPad. This year's iMac returned to the colorful design of the iMac G3. The rumored MacBook may also have a change in style. Follow this idea It seems that the return of the iPod can be considered a tribute?

But this is more like a reason. Feelings can't make users "pay out". This once-brilliant product wants to return to more should still correspond to its use and purpose.

The iPod can either become a professional device with its own audio decoder, to alleviate the nightmare of mobile devices that need to be "wired" for listening, and to impact the professional audio player business of other companies. Either take the parity route and impulse for Apple Music.

It's just that no matter what kind of possibility, it is not very "Apple".

Today is different from the past. Professional-grade music players are quite niche. If you expand it, "wiring" is no longer the mainstream and popular way of listening to music. Whether you admit it or not, it is now the world of TWS wireless headsets, which is also close to Apple's wireless use methods that have been advancing in recent years, such as AirPods wireless headsets, MagSafe wireless charging, and so on.

Therefore, only for lossless requirements, Apple is more likely to implement a Bluetooth or WiFi-based high-fidelity encoding and transmission solution that meets its own devices. And update the new AirPods headsets that meet this set of standards, and even push to the old AirPods devices through firmware upgrades (here specifically AirPods Max).

Compared with the professional player iPod touch, a new pair of headphones that can listen to Apple Music lossless music may be more in line with the needs of consumers, and it is easier to get good market feedback.

In fact, compared to Apple Music's lossless music, Apple is actually betting on "Dolby Atmos" and spatial audio. Now you can experience the spatial audio brought by Dolby Atmos in Apple Music through AirPods. Spatial audio is generally considered to be an advance layout for Apple's AR devices, and it will also be an option for Apple to hit the traditional music industry again.

(For specific analysis, you can check our previous " AirPods do not support lossless music, but I still recommend you to upgrade Apple Music ", which is too much to expand here.)

When Steve Jobs released the iPad that year, he said that "the existence of an intermediate product must have a reason for it to be better than other products." At the time, Apple believed that the reason for the iPad's existence was large screens, Internet access, and reading, but now it has turned to "productivity tools."

And when iPod touch reappears, there should be a reason. For Apple, the iPod touch, which is not much different from the iPhone and at a lower price, is more suitable as a "content distribution platform", but the protagonist of content distribution may not be Apple Music, but more likely Apple Arcade games.

It is undeniable that the mobile game market is large enough, and the momentum in recent years is booming. According to gamma data, the global mobile game market is expected to exceed US$86 billion in 2020, an increase of more than 25%. The "2021 Mobile Market Trend Report" released by App Annie shows that in 2021, user spending in mobile games is expected to reach a new height, exceeding US$120 billion.

Due to the strong performance of Apple's A-series chips, iPhone and iPad have better gaming performance. Coupled with the characteristics of the iOS platform, the gaming experience of different devices is not much different. Combining the thinking of the iPod touch in the past, its performance is actually similar to that of the iPhone of the same year. Without the communication module, it may have better performance release. The hardware can be regarded as a good iOS "game console."

So, back to the beginning question, do we need an iPod? In terms of music, we may even need a new AirPods that can listen to losslessly, or new firmware. In the game, it seems that the iPad mini is the loudest voice. But for Apple, trying to enter the field of mobile games, restarting iPod touch may be a good attempt.

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