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Apple kills iPod after 21 years

Apple
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has discontinued the iPod brand 21 years after it arrived.

The 7th-generation iPod Touch, which has been the only iPod model on shelves since the (7th-gen) Nano and (4th-gen) Shuffle were discontinued in 2017, will only be available "while supplies last".

The iPod brand is the oldest to be discontinued by Apple, so it's fair to say the company's announement marks the end of an era. And what an era it has been!

“Today, the spirit of iPod lives on," said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "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."

When the iPod Touch turned 18 back in 2019 – the year the 7th-gen model launched, and six years after the original, classic iPod saw curtains – we looked back at our review of the first-ever Apple iPod in 2002. You might remember that the first iPod only worked with Apple Macs (Apple would shun Windows PCs up until 2004) and, of course, used a proprietary connector (at that time, it was called 'Firewire'). We weren't all that impressed by its paltry 5GB capacity either. And yet, with its nicely readable back-lit screen and good quality, comfortable supplied headphones, not to mention its competitive sound quality, we concluded that the iPod was "a delightful, simple device that looks and sounds the business".

Of course, breakthrough sales followed, as did a stream of successful Classic, Mini, Nano, Shuffle and Touch models – 26 iterations in all over the 21 years – that echoed the popularity and popular culture recognition that Sony's Walkman enjoyed in the '80s. Heck, it almost singlehandedly got people listening to music away from their CDs and cassettes and sharing digital audio files. That it is (or soon will be) gone marks the end of a significant run (and obviously puts to bed any contemplation over a future iPod supporting Apple Music's hi-res streams!)

What's left of the budget portable music player market is, to put it mildly, modest, with the iPod Touch's death coming at a time when no new 'affordable' Sony Walkmans have been released in years. Perhaps inevitably, it seems that the everyman's dedicated music player is finally bowing down to the does-it-all phone once and for all. Check out our round-up of the best iPod Touch alternatives if you're in the market for a new music player.

Still, long live those exquisite-sounding hi-res players at the higher end, eh?

MORE:

Thinking of buying an iPod Touch while you can? Here's our Apple iPod Touch (2019) review

That Was Then... Apple iPod review

The best portable music players you can buy

Becky is the Hi-Fi and Audio editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, Australia, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her eight years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.

  • outlander
    Very disappointing to hear. The latest IPod touch played HiRes music and I sold my previous Austell and Kearns as the IPod is easier to get download music and use streaming services. I was expecting an further upgrade instead of a discountinuatiuon.
    Reply
  • AllanM
    Perhaps inevitably, it seems that the everyman's dedicated music player is finally bowing down to the does-it-all phone once and for all
    .
    er, please see
    https://www.whathifi.com/us/best-buys/portable/best-portable-music-players
    Reply