After 20 years, the Apple iPod is no more

iPod history
iPod history (Image credit: iMore)

Final iPod

Final iPod (Image credit: Apple)

It ended with a press release no one expected, but no one can honestly say it was all that surprising.

On Tuesday, Apple announced that after over 20 years, the iPod lineup was coming to an end once the iPod touch inventory is exhausted. In an age when iPhone long ago overtook iPod as Apple's most popular product, today's news isn't happy or sad but does officially end an era many of us won't soon forget.

Released on October 23, 2001, weeks after 9/11, the first iPod filled a void few of us knew existed. In our hands was a device, when connected to our Mac (and later Windows machines), could download our favorite music from iTunes for listening on the go.

Over two decades, the iPod lineup grew considerably. The traditional iPod eventually became the iPod Classic and was later followed by the iPod mini, iPod nano, and iPod Shuffle. Finally, in September 2007, Apple released the iPod touch, best described as an iPhone without a phone. It launched just months after the first iPhone.

Interestingly, the arrival of that first-generation iPod touch started the iPod lineup's long decline, although we didn't know it at the time.

There was only one iPhone in 2007. That first-generation model was much more expensive than anything in the iPod lineup, saying nothing about the monthly service agreement that was also required. Today, iPhones remain among the most expensive smartphones on the planet. And yet, there are now seven models to choose from at various price points. Yes, all of them are (still) much more expensive than the almost extinct iPod touch. And yet, we also live in a different time when real-time audio AND video streaming is essential, not just for adults, but for their kiddos who are much more likely to carry one of the best iPhones than the generation before.

Although I haven't owned an iPod for many years, today's news bums me out. With some renewed love and innovation, I'm convinced Apple could have done something to spark renewed interest in iPod. Doing so, however, would have probably meant spending lots of resources to separate it from iPhone so it could be reborn as a much different product. Unfortunately, that's not the path Apple took. And because of this, it's time to say goodbye.

White, in bright colors, with or without a mechanical scroll wheel, with a beautiful display or not, iPod will truly be missed. Thankfully, the music continues to play across other Apple devices.

Not ready to say goodbye? Order one of the last iPod touch models before they run out!

Goodbye, iPod, 2001-22.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.