Wow, my 401(k) really takes a beating. I’m glad I put all that money into Bitcoin! Uhhhh…
A few weeks after presenting the iPhone in January 2007, Steve Jobs traveled to New York to show his creation to the top editors of a few publications. I hosted him for lunch at Newsweek, and my bosses were dazzled by a hands-on demonstration of the new device, months before it was released. While chatting with Jobs before he took off, I shared a thought with him: wouldn’t it be cool to have an iPhone without the phone? I mentioned this because several times throughout his presentation he explained why certain features were limited by the security and connectivity needs of the mobile operator.
It wouldn’t work, he told me with a bit of disdain.
Later that year, however, we saw the iPod Touch, an iPhone without a phone, with iOS, a touchscreen and, of course, a music player, among many other apps available. It was one of countless 180s Jobs performed during his years at Apple, a skill that freed him from preconceptions. Or was it in progress when we talked and he, uh, misdirected me? Whatever. What no one knew at the time, however, was that this SIM-free marvel would one day be the last remaining device to claim the iconic iPod moniker. And since this week, there are no more. On Tuesday, Apple announced it was discontinuing the iPod. (You can still grab one while supplies last.) The company took the rare step of issuing a press release about the iPod legacy that captivated a generation of fanatical users.
Including me. There was no way I was ignoring this event – I wrote the book on the iPod! So while last week I wrote about Apple losing its soul, this week I’m compelled to talk about Apple literally losing its Touch.
What does Apple and the world lose by no longer having an iPod? The question is disappointing, as it was a stretch to call the Touch an iPod in the first place. His iPodness came through his iPhone parentage, and as all Apple nerds know, Jobs introduced the iPhone as three devices in one: a telephone, an Internet communicator, and an iPod. But the iPhone’s secret weapon was actually the way its operating system worked with sensors and connectivity to deliver new kinds of apps. The iPod Touch, like its phone sibling, featured music as one of many other functions. In the days following Apple’s announcement this week, experts have been pondering the ontology of iPodness. Jobs himself once posed this question to me, when I asked him why we should think of the just-announced iPod Shuffle, without a click wheel or display, as an iPod. What is an ipod? I wanted to know. “An iPod,” he told me, “is just a great digital music player.”