Apple officially retires the iPod

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Goodbye Apple iPod. We loved you since 2001 and will miss your very specific musical capabilities when they are gone.

Apple has more or less announced that it's discontinuing the iconic portable music player line in a press release that celebrates the iPod's history but also makes it clear that its DNA lives on in a variety of other Apple products, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, HomePod, and Apple Watch.

However, it's this key line that cements the future of the iconic music player, “iPod touch will be available while supplies last.”

The Apple Store no longer offers a direct link to the last remaining iPod version (something we noticed last week), but if you search “iPod Touch” in the Apple Store, you'll land on the iPod touch page. Even there, above the product name, is the gray text, “While supplies last.”

Remaking music history

When Apple first launched the iPod on October 23, 2001, it highlighted the “MP3 Music Player's” ability to hold 1,000 songs in your pocket.” While its mechanical scroll wheel and tiny monochrome screen might seem quaint by today's standards, the first iPod was a revelation that launched a portable revolution. 

It was the first broadly successful MP3 player leading to a whole line of iPods (nanos, shuffles, classics) and millions of units sold (39 million by 2017).

Still, the introduction of Apple's iPhone in 2007, which combined iPod features with a phone and personal, portable information and entertainment device certainly marked the beginning of the end of the line.

As Apple makes clear in today's announcement, though, the eventual end of iPod touch supplies does not mark the end of Apple's music aspirations.

“Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and 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,” said Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak in the release, adding, “Today, the spirit of iPod lives on.”

And by “living on” Apple points consumers to all its other music-capable products, especially those like Apple AirPod Pros, which support spatial audio – a capability that never arrived on the iPod.

Ending iPod touch productions might also benefit Apple in another way. The company is component supply-constrained for most of its gadgets, including iPods and iPhones. Not making any more iPods might help clear the path for more available components on the lines Apple will continue to build and sell.

You can still buy the soon-to-be-a collector's item starting at $199 for the 32 GB (up to $399 for 256 GB) but we suspect that won't be the case for long. Now that everyone knows the end is near, they'll be racing to get their hands and ears on these once-beloved Apple gadgets.

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