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Goodbye to the iPod: Apple is discontinuing the iPod Touch

The little device that made it possible to carry around thousands of songs is now obsolete.
/ Source: TODAY

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It's the end of an era: On Tuesday, Apple announced it was discontinuing the manufacture of the iPod Touch, the last of the iPod models still being produced.

The iPod was first introduced in 2001, with the company calling it "a breakthrough MP3 music player that packs up to 1,000 CD-quality songs into an ultra-portable, 6.5 ounce design that fits in your pocket."

How many items that cost $399 can you say really changed the world? For those who weren't around, or who weren't able to afford such a device 21 years ago, try to imagine what it was like to carry clunky CDs or cassette tapes everywhere you went if you wanted a variety in your music. Packing 1,000 of your favorite tunes was like a door to heaven opening up: the possibilities seemed endless.

And it was so cool. Even the ads over time became buzzy, featuring silhouettes of people standing against colorful backgrounds, jamming out to the iPod (with connected headphones!) in their hands.

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The iPod came in several iterations. Who remembers the iPod Shuffle?Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

These days, of course, it sounds awfully quaint: Smartphones can carry exponentially more songs, play video and make phone calls. The idea of having one device that was basically good for only one thing, and cost as much as it did, seems absurd.

Yet it upended not just the music experience for audiences, but music creation for artists, and the music industry. Digital became the default, helping the long phase-out of CDs. These days, "owning" your own songs is also doing a long fade-out as new generations grow accustomed to listening to music on streaming services like Spotify or having restrictions placed on that ownership thanks to digital rights management copyright rules. (This might, however, explain why vinyl has been experiencing an equally gradual comeback.)

The iPod morphed into the iPod Touch in 2007, the debut year of the iPhone. The last iteration of the iPod was released in 2019; that model of the iPod Touch only cost $199.

This is just the latest step in Apple's changes. In 2019 the company broke up iTunes, which for a time could play music, podcasts and video. Today, iTunes is used for downloading songs.

“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 — it also redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement Tuesday.

"Today, the spirit of iPod lives on," Joswiak continued, through Apple's current products and its Apple Music service.

The iPod Touch will continue to be available while supplies last, Apple said.

This article has been updated to clarify the iPod Touch was introduced the same year as the first iPhone.