A world without iPods | THE CABLE

Wow, min 401 (k) get really spanked. Glad I put all that money in Bitcoin! Øhhhh…

The ordinary view

Weeks after introducing the iPhone in January 2007, Steve Jobs visited New York City to show his creation to top editors at a few publications. I had hosted him for breakfast at Newsweek, and my bosses were dazzled by a hands-on demo of the new device, months before it was released. While chatting with Jobs before he left, I shared a thought with him: Wouldn’t it be cool to have an iPhone without the phone? I mentioned this because he had explained in several points through his presentation why certain features were limited by the security and connectivity needs of the mobile operator.

It would not work, he told me, rather dismissively.

Later that year, however, we saw the iPod Touch – an iPhone without a phone, complete with iOS, a touch screen and of course a music player among many other available apps. It was one of the countless 180s that Jobs performed during his years at Apple, a skill that freed him from preconceptions. Or was it going on when we talked and he misled me? No matter what. What no one knew at the time, however, was that this SIM-free marvel would one day become the last remaining device to claim the iconic designation of an iPod. And as of this week, there are none. On Tuesday, Apple announced that it will stop producing iPods. (You can still grab one as long as stocks last.) The company took the rare step of issuing a press release reviewing the iPod legacy that captured a generation of fanatical users.

Including me. There was no way I would ignore this event – I wrote the book on the iPod! So even though I wrote last week that Apple lost its soul, this week I’m forced to talk about Apple literally losing its touch.

What does Apple and the world lose by no longer having an iPod? The question is anticlimactic, for it was a stretch to call Touch an iPod in the first place. Its iPodness came through its iPhone origins, and as all Apple nerds know, Jobs introduced the iPhone as three devices in one – a phone, an Internet communicator, and an iPod. But the iPhone’s secret weapon was actually how its operating system worked with sensors and connectivity to deliver new kinds of apps. The iPod Touch, like its phone siblings, featured music as just one of a zillion other features. In the days following Apple’s announcement this week, experts have been considering the ontology of iPodness. Jobs himself once asked me this question when I asked him why we should see the just announced iPod Shuffle, without a click wheel or screen, as an iPod. What is an iPod? I wanted to know. “An iPod,” he told me, “is just a great digital music player.”