We don’t need iPods anymore

After the 21st anniversary of the birth of the iPod, Apple officially announced earlier today that its product line will be discontinued. The existing iPod will be sold out, and new products will not be launched in the future.

▲ Steve Jobs and U2 Band. Picture from: New York Times

In fact, the last time the iPod was released was the seventh-generation iPod touch in 2019. The price of 1599 yuan was also the most affordable iOS device at that time.

Compared with the original iPod, its built-in services have also been upgraded to subscription services such as Apple Music, Apple News+, videos and games.

▲ Picture from: New York Times

The iPod is no longer the pocket listening artifact that everyone yearns for. Under the halo of the iPhone and iPad, it is more like a cheap Apple content ecological distribution platform, gradually declining, and it is logical to stop.

After Apple issued a farewell message with the theme of "The music lives on" today, many people expressed regret and believed that the iPod has indelible memories on the way to its growth.

And following the theme of the music lives on (music forever), from Apple's perspective, it should actually be Apple Music lives on.

iPod+iTunes replaced by iPhone+Apple Music

Not just the average consumer, the iPod is also important to Apple.

The emergence of Apple's M1 self-developed chip, let us shout that Apple has become that cool computer company again. At that time, after Jobs returned to Apple, the first thing to revitalize was the iMac, but it was the iPod that really brought Apple back to life and became a comprehensive technology company.

There's no denying that Jobs had a great marketing sleight of hand, pulling the iPod out of his jeans pocket and convincing the world that the iPod didn't exist to play songs, but to change the way people discovered and enjoyed music.

With the iPod, Apple successfully knocked on the door of consumer electronics. In other words, the iPod transformed Apple from a computer company into a technology company.

▲ Picture from: New York Times

The combination of iPod hardware and iTunes service allows people to easily buy, download and listen to songs instead of buying physical CDs or burning them. This combination has ushered in an unprecedented, convenient and fast digital music consumption model.

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

This also promoted the birth of Apple Music on the one hand, and iTunes was eventually split.

The acquisition of Beats, the launch of Apple's lossless audio and a series of initiatives have made Apple Music, which was born out of iTunes, the second largest streaming service in the world, followed by Spotify, with about 524 million users worldwide.

The iPod has gradually expanded into four product lines including Classic, mini, Nano, and Shuffle.

If the iTunes service differentiates services such as Apple Music and Apple TV, then through the iPod, it catalyzes the iPhone and Apple Watch, two products that have far-reaching influence on the industry.

As early as the eve of the smartphone explosion, many cellphone makers were launching devices that could play music, and many Apple executives feared that the iPod would be replaced.

▲ The core members of the iPhone team (from left to right: Phil Schiller, Tony Fadell, Jony Ive, Steve Jobs, Scott Forstall and Eddie Cue). Image via: Apple

To avoid this, Jobs started Project Purple, which would later become the iPhone, and said, "If it's going to replace it, then it's up to Apple to do it."

According to the idea of ​​​​iPod, many people think that the iPhone should be the iPod to join the communication module, but Jobs believes that the smartphone is far from the case, the introduction of multi-finger touch and Corning glass, abandon the stylus.

And continuing with the software and services within the iPod, people could back up and transfer data through iTunes, which eventually inspired the App Store, allowing apps to be downloaded and purchased.

Apple used a small brick to shake the voice of the traditional record industry, and through this small brick, it also catalyzed products such as the iPhone and Apple Music that changed the consumer electronics industry.

In 2005, Apple has sold 22.5 million iPods, and the subsequent iPod touch has an impressive sales volume of 6-8 million units per year.

However, Jobs did not lie on the merits, but took the initiative to work on the iPod, and eventually the iPod was replaced by the iPhone, and iTunes was replaced by Apple Music.

In a sense, the golden combination of iPod + iTunes has not disappeared, but has become iPhone + Apple Music.

iPod is not the tears of the times

Unfortunately, it can be said that it is the feeling of many people after the iPod was discontinued, but for the consumer electronics industry, for these old products that have been eliminated by the times, it should have been sealed in the historical credit book, rather than a "survival" update. iterate.

▲ iPod Max in my dream.

After the iPhone was released, Talal Shamoon, CEO of Intertrust Technologies, a music DRM company that once worked with Apple, said, "They showed the world that they had an atomic bomb, and a few years later they had a nuclear arsenal. After that, Apple will own the world."

The release of the iPod is undoubtedly like an atomic bomb dropped by the traditional recording industry, while the iPhone and a series of subsequent services (App Store, Apple Music) are the "nuclear arsenal".

In the end, with the ecosystem composed of a series of hardware and services, it firmly controls a considerable number of users.

Apple's revenue has gradually stopped relying on pure hardware. Last quarter (2022Q2), Apple's corresponding service revenue reached $19.82 billion, exceeding the revenue of all other hardware except the iPhone, and users using Apple's services also reached a new high of 825 million.

Nowadays, even if Apple Music has turned on professional-level functions such as lossless and spatial audio, the pure music player has completely become a niche product. It is difficult to acquire users through innovative single functions, and it is no longer necessary for business growth. has a promoting effect.

▲ Android phones can also listen to Apple Music. Image from: iMore

In addition, Apple Music is actually gradually getting rid of the bundling of Apple hardware such as iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and facing the Android and Windows platforms.

Different from the barrier policy adopted by Apple in its development period, as a giant in the electronics industry, the Apple Music service has become more inclusive, facing more platforms, and acquiring more potential users. After all, its own subscription system and powerful music library itself are a kind of barrier.

In fact, after the release of the iPhone, the iPod will inevitably be stopped. At that time, it may still be a relatively cheap iOS device, and it has become a wide-ranging content distribution platform with a low threshold.

Now, with the expansion of the iPhone product line, the price points covered by the products have also crowded out the space for the iPod. Gradually get rid of services such as Apple Music bundled with hardware, so that the iPod has no meaning to continue to update.

As Apple itself suggests, Apple Music is forever, and the iPod is sealed in fond memories.

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