Should Apple reinvent the iPod?

One of the most beloved tech toys I have is my prized iPod Classic with a hard drive that holds over 10,000 songs and still has 30 gigabytes of free space to use as extra storage. In fact, iPods in general have had a wonderful impact on my travel and exercise life. They have been faithful companions since the day they came out.

Apple has now “retired” the iPod Classic. They can no longer buy the parts to make them and, while flash based ultra thin iPod’s are still sold in their stores, it is no longer the cash cow is was before the iPhone came out.

Indeed, the iPhone has pretty much replaced the iPod, especially for those who have iPhones. The same goes for competing smartphones–all are now capable of playing back music and videos. You would think there would be no need for iPods anymore. Which is why Apple has done very little with the iPod in terms of new versions in the last 18 months.

Yet, I suspect there is a good number of people who still use iPods while exercising or traveling, especially if they have smartphones whose battery life is challenged.

That is one key reason I still use an iPod, especially before I got much better battery life on my iPhone 6 Plus. On long trips, I would pull out my iPod Classic, holding my entire music, audiobook and music video library and use it for well over 12 hours continually with no problem.

There is probably no reason to innovate on the current iPod design, but perhaps there is another platform in which an integrated iPod could be of interest to some people.

At the last CES, a smart headphone was introduced known as the Muzik headphones. The Muzik headphone has touch controls for high definition audio, voice command, long range wireless capabilities, motion sensors, one touch phone answering, and social sharing. All these are controlled directly from the side of the headset. It is designed to be connected wirelessly to your smartphone.

The company has created a software development kit (SDK) so developers can create apps for the platform. They say “it can send updates, applications, and new features to listeners as they are released — allowing the product to evolve over time, beyond the capabilities of traditional headphones”.

What if Apple created an iPod in a Beats headset and gave it touch and voice commands so a user could have a significant amount of their personal music content in the headset itself and not have to rely on a connection to their smartphone? As a traveler who uses wired headphones connected to my iPhone once in a while, I would love to not run the battery down on the iPhone on a long plane flight yet still have the ability to listen to hours of music. Same goes for when I do my two hour walk on the weekends. If my headset had the iPod built in, I could just touch it or give it voice commands to search for different music, change the volume, etc. This would add an interesting dimension to these particular activities.

And if the Beats headset also delivered extremely high quality audio with an integrated iPod inside it, Apple could deliver a new iPod design I think would garner a lot of interest from people who want to have their music on a local device and not have to always carry their smartphone with them too.

I have no clue if Apple is doing anything like this but it seems to me an iPod still has value. If they wanted to still innovate on the iPod platform, integrating it into a Beats headset could give them another interesting product that connects people and their music in a new way.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

4 thoughts on “Should Apple reinvent the iPod?”

  1. I am not sure if I want to be locked in to one model of headphones, but if it’s any company who can pull it off, it’s Apple. It would be interesting to see what they can do with a “smart headset” that can also tap on the full might of the Apple ecosystem.

  2. Most of your concerns (and they are shared by many others) could be addressed if Apple simply released an iPod Touch (or Nano) with 256 GB of flash storage. It would be expensive (probably at least $400), but I bet they would sell enough to make it worthwhile.

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