A Classic Won’t Die Quietly

As a designer, aesthetics appeal to me. As a digital designer, new technologies excite me. And as someone living in a first world country, I do get swept up in the advertising & marketing of large corporations. And most times I do want the latest and greatest. I might not be an early adaptor but I do like to keep up to date and explore new technologies as they come out. But one thing I believe is that great design & function trumps flashy technology.


An article caught my eye the other day that made me laugh. The article explained that some of the discontinued iPod Classics were now being sold for over $1000 on Amazon. A couple of months back, Apple quietly discontinued their flagship product after nearly thirteen years in the market. The original generation iPod classic was the product that revolutionised the market, and saw the demise of the formidable (at the time) Sony Walkman.


What made me laugh was not that people were paying nearly 4 times as much as apple sold them, but it is the fact that I understand why people still want to buy these “relics”.


I love my 160gb iPod classic. I use it everyday, and would hate to live without it. It is nearly 5 years old; I bought it in 2010 before a three-month trip around South America. It has been at house parties, taken camping, thrown about, drinks spilt on it, and dropped on multiple occasions. It does have some dints and scratches but you know what, the solid little thing keeps working. In the time I have had my iPod, I have also been through 4 iPhones. One of the replacements was due to upgrading, but you can probably guess what happened to the others…


What I find entertaining is the comments the iPod receives. With all these new technologies, amazing phones, and different music streaming solutions around some people are surprised to see an iPod still being used. But if it died tomorrow, I would think about replacing it. Obviously not for over $1000, but I would pay the RRP in a heartbeat.


I’m sure your thinking why would I spend around $350 on a relatively unchanged piece of technology that was developed 13 years ago? Because the iPod classic is a great piece of design, a balance of function and form that was built to last. Yes they may not be the sleekest deign, and yes the screen may be small, but due to it’s size and the fact that the designers didn’t extend the screen to the edges, like the iPhone, the risk of cracking it is greatly reduced.


You know what else, the battery actually lasts. I’m not talking hours; I’m talking days, if not weeks. I can’t even get a full day out of my iPhone. This is very handy when your facing a 30-hour bus ride through on a South American bus that is lucky to have seats, let alone entertainment systems. I have 160 other good reasons why I love my iPod. The size. 160gb is a lot of songs, around 40,000 actually. No, my iPod isn’t full, I have around 75gb of music on it, but that’s still more than any iPhone model on the market at the moment. I can have those classic albums that rarely get played, but are really enjoyable when they do.


So why not stream music? Well I do, I use Spotify, although only at work. I commute just under 4 hours a day from Geelong, and as it is, I use my 4gb of monthly data without streaming, and the phone service is patchy at best on the train between Geelong and Melbourne. Save them to your iPhone for offline playing? To what space.


So one downside of the iPod is sharing a joke with your mates. On the iPhone, if a funny song comes on you can take screenshot it and send it to your mate. This is how you take a screenshot on an iPod classic:

Use your iPhones camera. (Sadly, this is an actual photo I sent a friend)

Apple stated that it didn’t have enough resources to manufacture & supply parts for the iPod, and there wasn’t enough demand for them to justify redesigning the parts. I believe the main factors in discontinuing them was because the designers did too good of a job. There wasn’t enough planned obsolescence, the act of building weaknesses or limited life into the product, and people didn’t need to purchase new iPods every two years. Like a good app, the iPod classic was simple, it had one job and it did it well. I’m not ready to put mine in the draw with my Nokia 3310. Don’t get me started on that beast.


Up next: Let’s talk about nothing.

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