A month or so back, I walked into a pub one afternoon. I’d come straight from the office and had to go two or three blocks to get there, so the iPod was out and the noise-cancelling headphones were wrapped firmly around my ears as I walked. The music was still blaring as I bounded two-at-a-time up the staircase to the third floor. Arriving at the bar with a great thirst – more because I’d gone 48 hours without a drink than from all those stairs – I slid my headphones down my neck, put my iPod on the bar and gave a cheery “Hello!” to the girl behind it. Even as she was returning my smiley greeting, she was eyeing off the iPod. “Gee”, said she, “you don’t see too many people using the old iPods any more”.
What?!? The “old iPods”? Any more? Don’t see too many people using them?! WTF!? Yes OK, so what I just said was exactly what she said except with the words in a different order… so sue me! I was in shock on multiple levels!
As if she hadn’t already sufficiently floored me, she then started reminiscing about her own history of iPod ownership, starting with the very first click wheel model from 2001 and progressing through various iterations of the Shuffle, Mini and Nano models. “Those were the good old days” she told me matter-of-factly, before advising that “everyone just uses their iPhones now, obviously”. Everyone except me, clearly. If I didn’t already feel like a total loser by then, the “obviously” could’ve tipped me over the edge. “Well… obviously” I agreed, a distinct sense of resignation in my tone.
Everything’s come full circle, hasn’t it? Olden days tech hardly ever changed – at least it didn’t change nearly as rapidly as modern technology does. Back then, it wasn’t uncommon for the same car design to stay in production for thirty, forty, sometimes fifty years. The basic function of a vinyl record player – spiritual ancestor of the iPod – has remained largely unchanged since the first gramophone record was sold in 1892. The electric light bulb has changed little since Thomas Edison filed for his electric lamp patent in 1879. I guess it just proves the old saying, “some things never change”. Probably because there’s no need to change them. While much has been superseded, there’s still some old tech that’s seemingly timeless. Mod-tech, on the other hand, seems transient at best. But I digress…
So I skulked away from the bar dejectedly with my two over-sized pints (not both for me, I hasten to add) and pondered on everything that’d been said. Imagine her talking about my beautiful iPod Classic as if it was old tech like she did…. callous wench. I found myself softly caressing my pocket-sized mobile music collection with my mind, just to reassure it that I still loved it and, in fact, that I very possibly couldn’t live without it. How old can it be, after all?
Then the true horror of my situation hit me. The callous wench was right! My iPod Classic is old tech. Generations 1-5 of the original iPod were on sale for between eight and twenty-three months each; just a fortnight ago, the iPod Classic – the sixth gen iPod – had been on sale for five years. Admittedly I’ve owned two of them during that time – a 120GB 2007 model and the current 160GB 2009 model, but there’s still no getting away from my beloved device’s status as old tech. Let’s face it, anyone who uses an iDevice for their music these days is unlikely to use anything but an iPod Nano or an iPhone. Or maybe an iPad. Other than mine and my friend Michelle’s, I can’t remember the last time I saw another iPod Classic.
But what possible use could I have for the paltry storage capacity of a Nano or an iPhone? My 160GB Classic is 75% full, holding the entire contents of my enormous music collection. That’s twice as much as the largest-capacity iPhone could handle and almost eight times the capacity of the biggest Nano. My Classic affords me the convenience of being able to load new purchases directly onto it, without having to pick and choose what music remains and what gets removed, or risk it automatically removing something that I later want to listen to. At the click of a button, it always gives me the option of choosing from any of its 25,000 tracks. Why would I want to replace it with an inferior device – either one with less storage capacity or one that requires more work on my part to get my music on and off?
With all the hype surrounding the new iPhone 5 and the corresponding updates to the iPod’s Touch and Nano models, I was sorely disappointed to learn of no such update for the Classic – I fear my old tech could well be nearing the end of the line. I’ve come a very long way from my days as an anti-iPod ~ anti-iTunes / pro-Winamp ~ pro-Sony MP3 consumer. When everyone at work was given an iPod Shuffle back in 2005, I really did try to like it – it was free, after all! But for the life of me I just couldn’t get my head around iTunes, no matter how hard I tried. The Shuffle’s 512MB capacity was also greatly inferior to that of my Sony MP3 Walkman and its sound quality was too awful for this audiophile to cope with. It was thusly relegated to a drawer.
Size obviously does count though, because it was the Gen 6’s massive 120GB capacity that drew me back to the iPod fold, even though I was still doubtful of ever getting my head around iTunes. In the end, of course, I did. Yes it has its restrictions, as with any Apple device or interface. But I’m used to it now. I’m familiar enough with its machinations to not have to think about it. And I can carry an entire roomful of music around in my pocket. Even with daily use, my Classic still works exactly as it did the day I bought it. Finding any of its 25,000 tracks is effortless. There’s almost nowhere I can’t use it. It plays seamlessly and never stops unless I specifically instruct it to.
Old tech? Pfft. I’ll be the judge of that!