The Fate of the iPod Classic: A Modest Proposal

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Earlier today, Jared wondered what the chances are that Apple will retire the iPod Classic at the music event it's holding next week and replace it with 128GB iPod Touch. Jared explains why it's unlikely that Apple will be able to introduce a 128GB Touch next week. That would presumably argue for the continuing viability of the Classic, which packs a 160GB hard drive.

But wait. I try to avoid making Apple predictions, but the company could make an end-run around the limitations of flash storage. Here's how.

What makes the iPod Classic the iPod Classic? Three things, really:

  • A ton of capacity-enough gigs for nearly anyone to tote nearly all of his or her music collection, and/or copious amounts of video;
  • The iconic iPod click wheel interface and corresponding onscreen menu system;
  • The inability to run iOS apps;
  • The lack of any way to communicate with the outside world except via USB connection.

Massive storage is unquestionably a pro, not a con. The classic iPod interface is a good thing, but it, like the original 1984 Macintosh design which went away in 1995, is a good thing from another era. It won't be with us forever, and that's okay.

Inability to run apps? Definitely a con. And these days, not having a direct wireless connection to the Internet is also a con.

Apple could very easily respond to all this next week with one simple move: It could retire the iPod Classic as we know it and introduce an iPod Touch that packs all the goodness of the current Touch, cameras on the front and back, FaceTime capability, and...a 160GB (or larger) hard drive. Hard disks are way cheaper per gigabyte than flash memory, so it should be possible to sell a disk-based Touch at a price that makes sense. Folks who want humongous amount of storage would get it-plus the other features that define the iPod Touch, the iPhone, and the iPad.

The only real downside: this Touch would have to be a tad thicker than flash-based models. Apple products almost never get portlier, but seems to me that the tradeoff would be well worth it. And it would buy Apple time until it can release an affordable 128GB flash-based iPod Touch.

If a disk-based Touch is imminent, it'll probably look very similar to the other next-generation Touches. But it's more fun to mock one up that retains a hint of the Classic's styling:

iPod Touch

We need a name for this thing-I propose iPod Megatouch. But knowing Apple, it's more likely that it would simply call it the iPod Touch. That's assuming that it would make it, period-and like I say, I'm not predicting that. Unless it happens next week, in which case you heard it here first...

This story, "The Fate of the iPod Classic: A Modest Proposal" was originally published by Technologizer.

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