Apple announced on Tuesday night that it is no longer making iPods, the trend-setting MP3 players that transformed how people get music and gave rise to the iPhone.
Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs introduced the devices nearly 21 years ago with his legendary showmanship flare, and the small, easy to operate players helped the company revolutionize how music was sold.
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It packed "a mind-blowing 1,000 songs" the company said at the time, and together with Apple's iTunes shop established a new distribution model for the music industry. Buying complete albums on vinyl gave way to paying 99 cents a piece for selected digital songs.
Industry trackers and California-based Apple itself have long acknowledged that the do-it-all iPhone would eat away at sales of one-trick devices such as iPod MP3 players.
The trend toward streaming music services, including one by Apple, has made devices designed just for carrying digital tunes around less enticing for consumers. Apple released dozens of versions of the iPod over the years, but the product was gradually eclipsed by its other devices, especially the iPhone. That led the company to begin phasing out models in 2014, a Bloomberg report explains.
At the time, the company stopped making the iPod classic, a version with a click wheel and small screen that was most similar to the original version. In 2017, Apple stopped making its smallest music players, the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle, the report adds.
Apple said in a blog post that the current generation of iPods will only be available as long as current supplies last.
"Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the way iPod did impacted more than just the music industry," said Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak. "It also redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared."
Joswiak said that the "spirit of iPod" lives on in its lineup of products including iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and its HomePod smart speaker.
"Since its introduction over 20 years ago, iPod has captivated users all over the world who love the ability to take their music with them on the go," Apple said in a blog post. "Today, the experience of taking one's music library out into the world has been integrated across Apple's product line - from iPhone and Apple Watch to iPad and Mac."
In addition, the Apple Music subscription service provides streaming access to more than 90 million songs, the Silicon Valley giant said. The iPod endured despite analyst worries that the release of the iPhone in 2007 would destroy demand, since the smartphones provided much more than just digital music.
News of the end of the line for iPod prompted a flurry of sad, nostalgic posts on Twitter.
"Damn... low-key a little sad to see that Apple has officially discontinued the iPod from today," said a tweet fire off from the verified @MrDalekJD account of a UK Gaming YouTuber. "This thing changed the music game forever. RIP."
(With inputs from AFP and Bloomberg)
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