Requiem for iPod Shuffle

Right after the speech When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod Shuffle, I was backstage with one question in mind: What makes the iPod an iPod? At that time – January 11, 2005 – I claimed my expertise in iPods, wrote Newsweek the cover page about Apple’s transformation player and I am writing a book about it. My biggest obsession is disorder function. My favorite thing about doing with my iPod is shuffling my music collection and being surprised which song comes out next. Sometimes the segues are so perfect that it seems like a genius deejay is getting behind the wheel. I compared such algorithmic accidental actions to the “Hand of God” move that Deep Blue used to confuse Garry Kasparov to think that computers had entered fields previously reserved only for outstanding people.

And now Apple has introduced something that shortens the product to a single feature that I love. I was captivated but confused. Does this look like a plastic drawing of a Wrigley gum pack – no click wheel, no screen, no hard disk – really an iPod?

“The iPod is just a great digital music player,” Jobs told me. “It doesn’t have wheels, it doesn’t have those rectangles and circles. That is not the problem. The point is we wanted to create something great for $ 99, so that everyone has a path to join the digital music revolution. But everything is an iPod – just another iPod. “

Those words resonate today, as last week Apple officially ended the iPod era, discontinued the Shuffle and Nano, introduced by Apple in September 2005 as the flagship of the line. this product. Three years ago, Apple stopped selling the iPod Classic, the last high-capacity clickable iPod. That shutdown broke the hearts of crazy people like me who liked to have music libraries in their pockets. The only product still bearing the iconic moniker is the iPod Touch, which is essentially an iPhone without a phone. It’s not like I have anything against the iPod Touch – it’s a good reminder that the iPod itself is an important step forward for the iPhone, making Apple the mainstream device maker and supplier to the public. company specializing in compact equipment. But calling it an iPod is actually ridiculous.

As you would expect from someone whose iPod book is called Perfect thingI’m sad about all of this, for a lot of reasons. Among them is the incredible creation that we saw in the first decade of the 2000s, when Apple routinely outpaced its digital music competitors by redesigning iPod models in the early 2000s. the frightening peak period of popularity. The most prominent example comes to Nano. When Jobs told me his origin story at his September 2005 launch event, he was crowing.

“This is a huge bet,” he said, describing how once or twice a year he gathers the top 100 people at the company – “not the top 100 on the organizational chart But if you were going to have 100 people sailing with you, who would you like? ”- to find major strategic problems. Last year, he said, he opened the meeting with a speech: “Our revenue has doubled in the past two years,” he told his team. “And our share price is high and our shareholders are happy. We have a lot of motivation. And a lot of people think, ‘It’s really great, we have a lot to lose, let’s play it safe.’ That’s the most dangerous thing we can do. We have to be bolder, because we have world class opponents and we can’t stand still. “The bold move is the Nano, replacing the hugely popular iPod mini with a smaller, more fully featured color-screen successor.” We call this a heart transplant – stopping a production line. excellent, start another line. It was great, and the team did it excellently and successfully. “

In the 10-year history of the iPhone, there has never been such a powerful innovation.

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