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Apple discontinues iPod Nano and Shuffle music players after 12-year run

 In this June 11, 2015, file photo, from left, an iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are displayed at an Apple store in New York.
In this June 11, 2015, file photo, from left, an iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are displayed at an Apple store in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Apple announced the discontinuation of its iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle on Thursday, 12 years after the devices were released.

After taking down the websites for both devices, Apple later confirmed the news in a statement sent to reporters.

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“Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod touch now with double the capacity starting at just $199 and we are discontinuing the iPod shuffle and iPod nano,” read the statement. 

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Sales of these devices have plunged by so much that Apple no longer provides specific details about them in its quarterly earnings reports. The last time Apple reported quarterly sales of the Nano and Shuffle was in October 2014, when the company sold 2.6 million iPods. This was far lower than the 39.3 million iPhones sold that quarter, CNBC reports.

These numbers have continued to decrease, as FactSet analysts estimate Apple has sold fewer than one million iPods per quarter in 2017, compared to selling between 40 million and 50 million iPhones during those same periods.

The discontinued devices are the last two music players in the company’s lineup that cannot play songs from Apple’s subscription streaming service, Apple Music. They were released in 2005 as less expensive, smaller alternatives to the original iPod.

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The original iPod was released in 2001, and is considered a large part of Apple’s return from a difficult few years under company co-founder Steve Jobs. CNBC reports that this device, along with Apple’s digital music marketplace iTunes, played a major role in the rise of digital music during the early 2000s.

“I think they were  great for the rise of portable music,” said Catherine Moore, an adjunct professor of music technology and digital media at the University of Toronto. “That really helped people understand that music could be personalized for them. It got people thinking about music in those terms,” said Moore.

She went on to say that, with multi-use devices having gained popularity since the early 2000s, people would likely be more surprised to learn that Apple sold the iPod Nano and Shuffle through to 2017, rather than their discontinuation.

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“A lot of people will probably  be surprised they still existed, because they did only one things,” said Moore. “People don’t want 2 devices. When the iPod was new, phones were also new. Many people said ‘man I wish this was one device,’ and very quickly, it was.”

While Apple has not updated either the Nano or the Shuffle since 2012, the Cupertino-based tech giant suggests that this does not mean the end of the iPod line.

Apple plans to continue selling its internet-enabled iPod Touch, and in a show of commitment to the device, doubled the storage capacity of its top-of-the-line model to 128 gigabytes. That version will cost up to $300, while an iPod Touch with 32 gigabytes of storage sells for $200.

Moore explained that there’s a reason for this selection, and that reason is the iPod Touch’s ability to participate in the Apple ecosystem.

“Part of Apple’s strategy is to get everything in the cloud and get everything to be wireless. Part of everything is using Apple Music,” she said.

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The iPod Touch has all the features of an iPhone, except without LTE connectivity or mobile data. The device runs iOS, is capable of streaming Apple Music and can run the same apps as the iPhone.

In addition, the Guardian reports that the music industry is heading towards a streaming-first model. As platforms like Apple Music and Spotify become major players, music players like the Nano and Shuffle have been slowly pushed out.

On music streaming, Moore says that “people don’t want to and don’t have time to make their own playlists…people get overwhelmed by too much choice.”

Where Spotify has been successful is in customizing the experience for the user while still bringing them a total package – minimal effort is required on their part.

Moore explained that Apple’s goal is to be a one-stop destination for all its customers’ music needs.

— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press. 

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