iPod Classic: Knocking on Heaven's Door?

Predictions on the demise of the iPod Classic usually don't come around until September, when Apple updates its line of media players, but the timing's off now thanks to suspicious supply issues at major retailers.

The unfortunately-named Apple Bitch reports that Apple's iPod Classic is out of stock Best Buy and Amazon, and the Apple Store is shipping the media players a bit slower than usual as well. CNet adds that Target and J&R are also out of stock.

It could just be a random supply glitch, but the other two possibilities are more intriguing: Either Apple is about to refresh the iPod Classic with a bigger hard drive, or it's discontinuing the iPod Classic altogether.

Apple ignored the Classic at the last iPod event in September, and for good reason: Compared to the bite-sized iPod Nano and the high-tech iPod Touch, the Classic is a decidedly unglamorous device. The only way it can improve is with a bigger hard drive, and that's just not Stevenote material. A quieter product update makes more sense, and with Toshiba recently updating iPod-sized hard drives to 220 GB, a larger iPod Classic certainly seems plausible.

As for whether the iPod Classic's days are numbered, I don't see enough of a change in the rest of Apple's iPod line to justify killing the Classic - yet. A 128 GB iPod Touch didn't happen last year, and the iPod Nano was downsized to a square-shaped device that only plays music. The iPod Classic now stands alone as Apple's low-cost multimedia player.

I'll just throw out one more wacky theory as long as we're speculating: These supply shortages give Apple a chance to see what happens when the iPod Classic isn't available. If a significant number of people decide to buy an iPod Touch instead, Apple will know that it can get away with killing the Classic for good.

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