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End of an Era: Apple to Discontinue iPod, Ending 20-Year Run

We can still feel the wheel click beneath our fingers

Apple announced Tuesday it will be discontinuing one of its most iconic, influential and culturally transformative products: the iPod.

The iPod was introduced more than 20 years ago, complemented by one of the most unforgettable ad campaigns of the time (with silhouetted dancers rocking out to various tunes, the stark white headphones and boxy iPod shape standing out, with a vibrant color backdrop).

The idea of having a huge collection of your favorite songs (hundreds or thousands, depending on the size of your iPod) accessible in your pocket, via an admittedly clunky process of migrating MP3 files from your computer to your device via Apple’s proprietary iTunes program, felt so bold and new, especially for a generation raised on Walkman and Discman products.

Forget about choosing your favorite tape or CD, or painstakingly crafting a mix CD – iTunes and the iPod let you make mixes on the go. Forget about one artist’s latest work; you could take their whole discography with you.

The iPod was everything to so many people, a truly groundbreaking achievement that also served as a kind of social status marker (there were news reports warning you to not wear your trademark white headphones, lest thieves know what you are listening to and steal your precious white brick o’ tunes). Everything about the product, from those headphones to the click of the turnstile wheel, as you searched for what to listen to, became ingrained in the zeitgeist.

It was the bomb. For people of a certain age, you remember your first iPod like you remember your first car – it had that much of an effect on you and your life. It was a milestone.

Over the years, of course, the iPod product line went through several transformations (remember the colorful, paperclip-like iPod Shuffle?) and served to inspire Apple’s flagship iPhone line. But with the advances that initially made the iPod so revolutionary transferred over to the iPhone and the laborious task of transferring songs from your home computer to your pocket-sized DJ went into the space of the cloud, with products like Spotify and Apple Music fully replacing iTunes (and offering a nearly limitless supply of music available for streaming), it makes a certain amount of sense that the iPod will be discontinued.

But it doesn’t sting any less.

“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 Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, in an official statement. “Today, the spirit of iPod lives on. We’ve integrated an incredible music experience across all of our products, from the iPhone to the Apple Watch to HomePod mini, and across Mac, iPad, and Apple TV. And Apple Music delivers industry-leading sound quality with support for spatial audio — there’s no better way to enjoy, discover, and experience music.”

You can grab the iPod Touch on the official Apple Store, while supplies last.

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