It was not that long ago that I had commented to my friend Barry Sullivan that Apple needed to determine what they were going to do with the iPod touch, either increase the screen size to 4.7 inches, to bring it inline with the iPhone SE, or cancel the product outright. They opted for the latter. Today Apple announced that they are discontinuing the iPod touch, the last in a long line of iPod products.
The iPod was initially introduced on October 23rd, 2001 with the first generation iPod. In September of 2007, Apple introduced the iPod touch as “the iPhone minus the phone”. The iPod touch was a widescreen iPod and device that many felt safe giving to their kids instead of a full-fledged iPhone. In the newsroom post, Apple states:
Among the incredible ways to enjoy music across a range of devices, including a wide variety of models from the new iPhone SE to the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone is the best device for streaming Apple Music or storing an entire music library on the go. Apple Watch and AirPods are the perfect companion, allowing users to access over 90 million songs right from their wrist, starting at just $279 with Apple Watch SE. iPad starts at just $329, comes with a more powerful chip, larger display and the latest iPadOS features. And for the best way to enjoy music at home, HomePod mini is just $99.
One thing I would like to point out about the above paragraph. It is somewhat disingenuous to say that someone can purchase an Apple Watch SE and listen to music. This is because it requires an iPhone to setup an Apple Watch. Yes, an Apple Watch could be added for another person in a family, but at that point it is not fully standalone. Therefore, someone wanting to get a device to download and listen to their music on the go has to pay at least $329 for an iPad. If they want to only listen at one location, and only stream Apple Music, then the HomePod mini is the way to go.
I cannot say that I am surprised by this decision. The 7th generation iPod touch was introduced on May 28th, of 2019 and has not been updated since. It took Apple a few months to even update the webpages when the 7th generation was introduced. So, it is not surprising that the product is being discontinued.
I myself was never much of an iPod touch person. I do have a 7th generation iPod touch that I use mostly for development and testing, but it is not something I use day to day. Even though the iPod touch was not for me, I did own a fair number of iPods over the years. A 1st generation iPod mini, the 1st generation iPod nano, the 6th generation iPod nano, and a 7th generation iPod nano, and a 5th generation 30GB iPod.
The discontinuation of the iPod touch does have some overall implications. First, for many instead of purchasing an iPod touch for their kids, many are now more likely to pass down old iPhones that do not have cellular plans. Second, for developers, the iPod touch has always been an outlier. It has the smallest screen size available at 4 inches. Trying to create interfaces that work at the variety of sizes available can be challenging. Being able to slowly drop support for the 4-inch screen should make development a bit easier, in the long run anyway.
It is sad to see the iPod line come to an end, but since the introduction of the iPhone, the sales of iPods has been decreasing. The iPod touch has not been a big seller for Apple for many years now. And the iPhone is a much more capable device, particularly in the world of streaming music.