RIP iPod Nano and Shuffle

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Back in 2014, Apple killed off one of its long-standing iPod models, the iPod Classic.

Now it seems the end of the line’s come for the other stand-alone iPod models. Last week, Apple announced it’s no longer selling the Nano or the Shuffle. In their place remains the only iPod left, the Touch. Fortunately, the Touch is also receiving a bump in specs; new models will come in two sizes, a 32GB model (at $199) and a 128GB model (at $299).

The iPod Nano

Introduced in 2005, the Nano replaced the short-lived iPod Mini, Apple’s first “junior”-sized iPod variant.

The Nano was popular as a cheaper alternative to the main iPod. Of course, the Nano’s popularity started to wane (like iPods in general) once the iPhone came along. I suspect the multiple variants also didn’t help; Apple kept changing the Nano’s form factor, ranging from the third-generation “fat” Nano to a Shuffle-like model. The only iPod I ever owned was the third-generation model, which served me well.

As a lot of tech site articles are pointing out, the last few Nano models ran some odd, custom-made non-iOS operating system. Not only was this OS less functional than iOS itself, but it made the Nano look like one of its various cheap knockoffs.

The iPod Shuffle

A red iPod Shuffle
Photo by Carolina Chiao (Flickr / CC BY)

The Shuffle was also introduced in 2005, as a lightweight and inexpensive iPod alternative. The Shuffle held a limited number of songs, and didn’t have a screen.

I can see an argument for killing off the Nano. However, the Shuffle was a popular device for those working out; it’s a lot more lightweight than carrying a bulky smartphone. Now that the Shuffle’s going away, I assume cheap generic MP3 players will fill the role of “a non-smartphone music player for the gym.”

The future of the iPod (and iTunes?)

The iPod Touch is now the sole iPod model left. Of course, it’s basically an iPhone without the cellular phone parts.

I’ve written before about how the iPhone is now Apple’s main source of profit. The iPod’s sales have dropped to the point it’s not counted as a stand-alone sales statistic by Apple anymore. Additionally, the Shuffle and Nano represented one-time sources of profit for Apple. Shuffle and Nano owners could get all their music from other sources (Google Play Music, Amazon Music, ripping CDs, etc.) and never deal with Apple again outside of hardware updates. The Touch, like the iPhone, is an online-connected device, and thus can use apps, Apple Music, and so on… all of which represent continuing revenue sources for Apple.

Thus, despite nostalgia for the music players, I can see why they’re being axed. Time, and tech, marches on, after all.

That said, I wonder what’s the future of iTunes. With the death of the Shuffle and Nano, iTunes won’t be needed to manage new Apple hardware anymore. As a stand-alone music and video player, iTunes functions adequately, if bloated. It also sticks out that Apple doesn’t offer a web-based store for media purchases, or a web-based music/video player, unlike Amazon Prime, Google Play, Spotify, etc. Aspects of iTunes feel as much a relic of the Bush administration as the Nano does.

Do any of you still use an iPod?


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4 thoughts on “RIP iPod Nano and Shuffle

    • The last Mac Mini update was in 2014, when Apple decided to solder the RAM directly in (making upgrading it impossible). But yes, they need a new Mini… otherwise, you’re probably better off saving up for an iMac if you want a new desktop Mac.

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