Apple has quietly killed off the classic iPod after a 13-year run. You can still buy music players with the iPod branding — Touch, Nano or Shuffle — but you can no longer buy a device from Apple that sports the famous iPod clickwheel.
The classic iPod had a built-in hard drive that's bulky and prone to failure. Newer Apple products — including the Nano, Shuffle, and iPhone — are based on flash memory that's smaller and more reliable — but more expensive per bit. But as the price of flash storage has fallen, the advantages of a hard drive-based music player have dwindled. It's probably not a coincidence that Apple killed off the classic iPod the same week it introduced the first iPhone with 128 GB of storage.
Needless to say, the iPod was a massive success. By 2005, four years after the first iPod was released, Apple controlled 74 percent of the worldwide market for digital music players. Now that smartphones can play music the market for standalone music players is shrinking, but Apple continues to command the lion's share of the market.
Yet when the iPod was released in 2001, it was greeted with a lot of skepticism. The initial version only worked with Macs, which had a single-digit share of the PC market.
And as Wired noted at the time, the Mac faithful weren't that impressed either. They compared it the Power Mac G4 Cube, an expensive computer with an unusual design many compared to a kleenix box that failed to catch on with customers.
"Apple has introduced a product that's neither revolutionary nor breakthrough, and they've priced it so high that it's reminiscent of the Cube," a post on MacSlash said.
The message then offered some ideas for what "iPod" might stand for. These won't make Jobs happy: "I Pretend it's an Original Device," it suggested, or "idiots Price Our Devices."
Others offered "I'd Prefer Owning Discs!" and "I Prefer Other Devices." There were some people who liked it, of course ("Impressive Piece of Design") but it was stunning how many seemed at least indifferent to the new toy.
The skeptics weren't totally wrong — Apple added Windows support in 2002 and introduced a lower-cost iPod Mini in 2004 to address concerns about compatibility and price. But they obviously underestimated the breadth of the device's appeal.