During my regular morning perusal of Theguardian.com I came across a rather depressing story. I know there have been many of late, but this had nothing to do with the daily flood of diarrohea from SCROTUS. On the technology page I read that Apple has stopped making the iPod Nano and Shuffle, the last two stand – alone MP3 players in their catalogue. I am sure that this item didn’t create even the tiniest blip on the personal radars of most people, but it took the edge off my day for a number of reasons.
I should point out that I understand why Apple did this: they want the iPhone to be all things to all people, and want everyone to rely on their little block of plastic, glass and silicon for everything. From an economic perspective it makes sense, as simplifying product lines improves efficiency and simplifies the supply chain, but it left me feeling cold. Let me explain:
I’m an alien. I was born on the planet analogue and for many years lived a conventional life among humans, blending in ( apart from the Aspergers) and getting by. I had a very large vinyl collection, and it gave me great comfort. to quote the band Cornershop, “Everyone needs a bosom for a pillow, mine’s on the 45”, even though it occupied more of my bedroom than I did. I ignored CDs until it was too late,and managed to survive the 90’s by pretty much ignoring contemporary music. My life changed when my then Father In Law bought me a third generation iPod after my then wife asked him what version would be best for my commute. I was faced with the opportunity to put more music in my shirt pocket than I could put in my bedroom, and I embraced it without question. I was stunned, don’t get me wrong, but the ability to hold 30 days of non stop music in my hand was more than I could believe.
In my youth I owned a Walkman. Every Saturday I would have to decide which four tapes I would put into the pockets of my Italian army combat jacket before I took the train into Liverpool to spend my money on music. It was not a simple task: : picking the wrong tape meant I would be stuck listening to something for which I wasn’t in the mood, and let’s face it, that really stinks. The iPod gave me the opportunity to change my mind and to create playlists longer than half a dozen compilation tapes. Lest you think I put my past behind me, think again. I have two large boxes stuffed with C 90 tapes stored in the closet and three, yes, count ’em, three functioning Walkmen, as well as two boom boxes. My first iPod had a duff battery, but the second one lasted well, especially after my son replaced the corrupt hard drive that after almost 10 years finally gave up the ghost. I also bought one of the last generation models, as 160 GB should keep me going for some time, and when I bought it, I regarded my 80 GB model as beyond repair. I also have a couple of shuffles, a 1GB and a newer 2GB model which I used to use exclusively for podcasts on my commute. I could clip the iPod to the headphone cord, and if wearing earbuds, it took up almost no space in whatever bag or Eastern European military map case I happened to be using that day.
It seems to me that the life cycles of electronic devices are getting shorter. We have become as accustomed to the concept of this year’s iPhone model as we have to the idea of this year’s new car model. A practice, I hasten to point out, which began in the 1920’s once sales began to level off. I mean, do we really need a new model phone every year? I’m still using a Galaxy 3, and it serves me darn well. In fact, I don’t even use all the functions, so in some respects, it is more than I need.
Phone batteries have a crappy lifespan, and the fact that I get a weeks’ worth of normal use out of my iPod between charges is something I appreciate. I also appreciate the fact that it is a single function device, and therefore is subject to the inverse law of “The less there is to go wrong, the less there is to go wrong” I now have four devices that should last me a good 20 years between them, and I wonder how many of you can say the same things about your new iPhone? Do you know anyone who still uses a first generation iPhone? No, you don’t.
You’ll have to excuse me. I’m in the mood to listen to some original recordings of Caruso, but I just can’t find the right wax cylinder.