Apple has discontinued its iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle personal media players. The only iPod that remains in Apple’s fleet is the iPod Touch, which is based on the iOS device hardware and software stacks. At present, Apple’s iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are still available from retailers like BestBuy, but EOL of the outdated iPods once again signals that MP3 players are essentially a dead product category.

Apple launched its first iPod in late 2001 and the player quickly gained popularity among users of Apple’s Mac computers. Initially, Steve Jobs did not want iPod to be compatible with Windows-based PCs as he considered the player to be an important selling point for the Mac platform as back then MP3 players from other makers were not sophisticated or user friendly. Moreover, in the lack of smartphones in Apple’s arsenal, iPod and iTunes (launched in early 2003) were in the center of its personal digital media strategy of the company.

Other executives at Apple persuaded the CEO to make iPod and iTunes compatible with Windows in 2004 and this is when sales of the music player started to grow rapidly. Several years later, the iPod became Apple’s most successful product ever and brought the company billions of dollars. Over time, many third-party accessories were developed for iPods, creating an industry around one product. Besides, Apple’s iPod players were among of the most desired Christmas gifts in the U.S. in the second half of 2000s.

Throughout its more than 15-year history, Apple’s iPod has changed its form-factor multiple times and switched hardware platforms for a dozen of times. For example, Apple’s initial iPods used miniature HDDs (including HGST’s  and Seagate’s 1” hard drives in the iPod Mini), but eventually all of them switched to NAND flash memory. With iPod Touch, the players obtained hardware found in iPhones and started to use iOS.

As sales of Apple’s iPhones increased, shipments of the company’s iPods declined because people now use smartphones to watch videos and listen to music. As a result, the company began to phase out the iPod. At first, Apple discontinued the iPad Classic player in 2014. This week, the company EOLed its iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, as well as iPod Touch with 16 GB and 64 GB of memory. The only iPods left are the iPod Touch models with 32 GB and 128 GB of storage.

The discontinued iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle were released on 2012 and 2010, respectively. Moreover, the existing iPod Touch was launched in mid-2015. Officially, Apple claims that the discontinuance of the outdated iPods is a way to simplify the product family. On the other hand, due to dropping sales of personal media players (the company has not reported sales of players for years), it may simply make no sense for Apple to keep the cheap and unpopular models in the lineup.

"Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod Touch, now with double the capacity, starting at just $199, and we are discontinuing the iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano," a statement by Apple reads.

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Sources: The Verge, Business Insider.

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  • ozzuneoj86 - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    I work retail, and we sell far more shuffles than Touches. If people want an iPhone sized touch screen iOS device they just buy an iPhone most of the time. An extremely outdated iPod Touch (the latest one) is the same price as a brand new no-contract iPhone SE that is better in every way and doesn't need to be activated as a phone.
  • Roland00Address - Thursday, July 27, 2017 - link

    Let me quibble with something you said ozzuneoj86

    I 100% agree with you that doing an iphone se as music player makes more sense than an ipod touch generally. After all you can get an iphone se 32gb for $199 from providers like tracphone, simple mobile, total wireless. You do not have to sign up for service for this $199 for 32gb.

    And with the ipod touch 6th gen (aka current) going for $199 to $249 (the MSRP) it just makes sense to go the iphone se route.

    Where I am quibbling is the ipod touch 6th gen is using the same memory and ram as the iphone 6. Sure the iphone se hardware is like an iphone 6s, but the iphone 6 / ipod touch 6th gen hardware is not EXTREMELY OUTDATED. Iphone 6 is still pretty fast with the a8, even though the a9, and a10 cpus are faster.

    No the ipod touch 6th gen problem is not the hardware, it is just no reasons to choose this hardware when you can get BETTER hardware for a CHEAPER price. To quote the departed Anand (who now works for Apple and not his website Anandtech) there is almost always no bad hardware, almost always it is instead bad prices.
  • osxandwindows - Friday, July 28, 2017 - link

    Keep in mind that the iPod touch is mostly for kids who don't need an iPhone.
  • Roland00Address - Friday, July 28, 2017 - link

    Partly agree, but also I am talking about the US marketplace. And we have unintentional subsidies some business do on apple products (and this is a good thing for US consumers).

    Iphone SE MSRP is $399. Now companies like Verizon, AT&T, but also 3rd party MVNO do not pay $399 but get some lower price due to bulk purchasing. These "phone company providers" may gladly lose move selling you a phone at $199 that may cost them $250 or $300 for they figure if you get 6 months of phone service they will recap their "loss leader" phone price within a few months lets say 3 or so and thus any phone service after 3 months is profit besides maintence / variable costs.

    But the US market and Apple rules can't force you to activate a phone with these providers. You do not have to sign a contract. So in other words it is an act of faith, a subsidy that is not 100% always going to work out with ALL customers for there will be some free riders who buy the HIDDEN subsidy in the subsidized price.

    But in non US countries a company may not be willing to do this. Thus the old $249 MSRP for the ipod touch, and the new $199 ipod touch MSRP may make sense in some poorer country like in Asia, Africa, South America, etc. You want better hardware and the theoretical ability to use cell phone service at the later date...well then you will have to pay for it.

    My point is when you look at price you need to look at Value separate from price and assume different people's point of views. The consumer, the retailer, the seller of the hardware (the phone company), and the original maker and sometimes seller of the hardware direct (which is Apple). Each of them need to extract their value from this, and this dictates price. Note price is also affected by one product competing another substitutional product.
  • Wolfpup - Friday, July 28, 2017 - link

    Glad you brought that up. And the SE is just one generation out of date (and has additional features) versus the iPod Touch that's 2 gens out of date.
  • alexmckay - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - link

    Sad. I remember loving my shuffle as a kid.
  • beisat - Friday, July 28, 2017 - link

    So what do people use when doing sports these days? Shuffle was great for that.
  • gerz1219 - Friday, July 28, 2017 - link

    You can already sync a playlist to the Apple Watch, but there's a 1GB limit (the discontinued Shuffle had 2GB). In the next version they'll probably add more local storage and an LTE option so you can listen to music without having a heavy phone in your pocket.
  • solipsism - Friday, July 28, 2017 - link

    gerz1219, your Apple Watch playlist is limited to 1 GB by default. In the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, you can change this setting to 2 GB (or 500 MB or 100 MB). If you prefer to limit by song number, you can limit your playlist to 15, 50, 125, or 250 songs, which use a lot more space, depending on the bitrate and length of your songs.
  • Wolfpup - Friday, July 28, 2017 - link

    How does that work? Like it can sync with iTunes like an iOS device, then play through bluetooth headphones?

    If so that's cool (though it needs more storage) and would be a sort of plausible iPod replacement for at least some uses.

    Hopefully it handles podcasts, which is what I'd need it for...

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