What Apple Should Do With the iPod Classic

This is something I’ve been thinking about a fair bit lately, so I thought I’d share my thoughts here. After all, it’s been over a month since I posted anything. (I blame Twitter – most quick thoughts end up get whittled down to less than 140 characters now, whereas I used to expand on those thoughts. This definitely warrants more than 140 characters.)

Earlier this month Apple announced the new iPods. Before the event, some of the tech blogs wondered if we’d see the elimination of the iPod Classic. Of course, that didn’t happen. There’s still a market for the device, and it still makes money for Apple. I find myself squarely in the target demographic for the iPod Classic. Some people care about storage capacity more than running apps and whatnot. We’ve already got iPhones for apps, some of us don’t mind having a separate device for music.

I have a large collection of music in my iTunes library. My iPhone only holds 16GB. Sure I could have gone with the 32GB one, but it wouldn’t have been enough. My 80GB iPod Classic is full, so there would be really no point in a 32GB iPhone for me.

It’s not just the size of my collection, either, but the fact that I have many files that are in either Apple’s lossless format (ALAC), or at least saved at much higher bitrates than what most people use for their digital music. These files take up much more room than the mp3s most people listen to (and sound much better, as a result).

So, I, and people like myself, are the target for the Classic. People who have large collections of music in higher quality formats.

And, when I say my iPod is full, I mean I have to be selective about the music sync to my iPod. I was hoping this month’s iPod announcements would include either a price drop on the existing models, or larger capacity iPods. Neither of these things happened.

So now, if I decide to upgrade my current 80GB model, my only option is 160GB. That’ll do for now, but I know myself; I’ll keep adding to my collection, using higher quality formats, and that 160GB will fill up in no time.

I’m sure you see the point I’m getting at: If people like me are the target demographic for the larger capacity iPods, then Apple should increase the capacity, and they should keep doing this every year as storage technology advances.

What’s more, Apple needs to revisit the capabilities of the current iPod Classic. I don’t mean by adding apps and whatnot, but rather improve what it already does. What do I mean by this? I have files in my library that I can’t even play on my iPod because they are a higher resolution than what it supports. According to the spec page for the Classic, 320 Kbps is the highest it supports*. This is fine for most people, but I’ve got high-def ALAC files that are up to 2800 Kbps. I can’t even load those on my iPod.

Also, I don’t understand why Apple hasn’t added FLAC support to the iPod. Yes, ALAC is technically equivalent to FLAC, but FLAC is the preferred format for higher-quality audio files. Although, both Livephish.com and Livedownloads.com both now offer ALAC as an option, but they’re the exception. People who trade live recordings (legally) tend to use FLAC. There are tools, of course, to convert FLAC into ALAC or AAC, but it’s a pain to constantly have to do this.

I’m glad Apple didn’t discontinue the Classic, as some people predicted. But, I would love to see some updates to the beloved model. So, Apple, do us a favor: Update the Classic with higher storage capacity, support for higher bitrates, and FLAC support.


Your customers who still buy the iPod Classic.

*The support page only lists bit rates for AAC and MP3, but not for ALAC. The Classic may support higher bit rates for ALAC, but I can’t find anything that says what the max is. I just know it won’t play (or even sync) 2800 Kbps files. Also, it occurs to me that the bit rate might not be the problem, it could be the sample size and sample rate (which, for the files in question is 24 bit/96kHz). Either way, it would be nice if the iPod Classic support high-def files.


2 comments on “What Apple Should Do With the iPod Classic

  1. My music collection is currently at 94GB, and I’ve ripped less than half of my music collection.

    My solution to storage:

    I sync four smart playlists to my iPhone:
    1. The 16GB of least often played tracks (mostly, but not completely the most recently ripped)
    2. All songs rated 3 stars that I haven’t listened to for 28 months
    3. All songs rated 4 stars that I haven’t listened to for 14 months
    4. All songs rated 5 stars that I haven’t listened to for 7 months

    This leaves me around 6GB of free space on the phone after pictures and apps.

    Then my listening is largely based on shuffle* mode. It keeps me pretty fresh and makes sure that it’s generally stuff I want to hear.

    * I’m pretty meticulous about combining tracks that segue on import so shuffle isn’t jarring.

  2. That doesn’t really work for me. I’ve never been much of a fan of shuffle mode, preferring to listen to entire albums instead. (However, I will occasionally I’ll use Genius mixes.)

    Also, the vast majority of my iTunes catalog is live concerts, and I certainly prefer to listen to a whole concert (or at least set) as it was originally played.

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