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Sluggish sales of 1.8-inch drives may signal end to iPod classic

post #1 of 77
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As flash memory and solid state drives become the new standard, Samsung and Toshiba have struggled to sell their latest high-capacity 1.8-inch hard disk drives, perhaps signaling that the end of an era is imminent for the iPod.

The flash memory-based iPod touch, nano and shuffle, long ago made the HDD-based iPod classic the odd duck of the family. Given changes and trends in the market, the grandfather of iPods could be nearing the end of its product life cycle.

A new report from Ars Technica says the latest 250GB 1.8-inch drive from Samsung has failed to gain any traction in the market, either from PMPs, like the iPod classic, or netbooks. Only Samsung and Toshiba continue to make 1.8-inch drives, and the latest Samsung model lacks IDE and SATA connectors.

"That Toshiba's IDE and SATA drives aren't picking up adoption in the netbook and PMP spaces means only one thing," the report said. "The 1.8" hard disk appears to be dying."

Truth be told, HDD-based media players have been on the way out for consumers for some time now. With movable parts in a spinning drive far more likely to break down over time due to regular wear and tear, any traditional mobile hard drive will inevitably stop working.

First launched in 2001, the iPod relied on HDDs for storage capacity as SSD technology had not yet become viable or cost effective for gigabytes of storage. When the first flash-based iPod shuffle debuted in January of 2005, it only carried 512MB or 1GB of storage, but it was a big hit.

Over time, the introduction of the iPod nano and iPod touch made flash players take up the bulk of Apple's offerings. But so far, the hard drive hasn't disappeared.

When it was first rebranded as the iPod classic in 2007, Apple's HDD-based player came in two sizes: 80GB and 160GB, with the latter being a thicker model. One year later, Apple streamlined the brand and began offering only a 120GB model with a 1.8-inch HDD. In part, it was because Apple wanted to stick with the slimmer form factor. But it was also likely a sign that the majority of consumers were not interested in ultra-high capacity for portable media players.

In fact, at the time the 120GB model was announced, a 240GB drive was available, but Apple didn't opt for the upgrade.

Meanwhile, one hard drive-based iPod has already died: The iPod mini. The device ran on a 1-inch Microdrive which featured a spinning platter like a traditional full-form hard drive. In 2005, after two iterations, the iPod mini was replaced by the iPod nano.

SSD availability continues to grow alongside mass-market adoption while prices drop. And the market's expectation is that the iPod touch will again double in capacity this September to 64GB, much like Apple did with doubling iPhone 3GS's storage to 32GB last month.

It's unclear whether Apple plans to push out another revision to the iPod classic this fall. But either way, it appears the iPod classic's days are numbered.
post #2 of 77
I have the 5.5 generation of the iPod with the 80 HDD. While I rarely use it and it pretty much collects dust, it's size serves as a backup for all my iTunes purchases. Still works great. It will be a sad day when the HDD iPod is retired.
post #3 of 77
Dunno know why bit I kinna feel a wee bit sad .
Maybe I will go out and buy a refub 160 g or a 120 g current or both .I wish there was a 260 g ssd out soon .

iS THE the current 120 g hd ipod DIFFERENT than the 160 g hd ipod .

And i own a brand NEW UNTOUCHED IN THE BOX ipod touch 32 g I will trade for an in the box 160 g ipod plus something to even it out value wise .
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post #4 of 77
Right when they were getting to the size I needed for all my music. I have two 160GB, one sits in my glovebox feeding the car stereo, one is my walkabout that stays docked in my sounddock.

Hope they vastly increase the size of the SSD Ipods before they are going to kill the classic.
post #5 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcip View Post

Right when they were getting to the size I needed for all my music. I have two 160GB, one sits in my glovebox feeding the car stereo, one is my walkabout that stays docked in my sounddock.

Hope they vastly increase the size of the SSD Ipods if they are going to kill the classic.

I'd guess they double their memory size every 18 months. Just a wild guess.
post #6 of 77
It'll seriously be the end of an era - it's been great to have a fully functioning Mac OS X startup disc on my iPod wherever I go, has come in handy a number of times.
post #7 of 77
out with the old, in with the new...thanks for your years of service, but the dead drive in my old Mini prevents me from shedding a tear.
post #8 of 77
I expect HDDs for the MacBook Air will not last much longer. The 250GB drives may be the last 1.8" HDDs to come to market. Once the HDD option for the MacBook Air is gone (sometime next year), then it would make sense for Apple to put the flash drive directly on the motherboard and eliminate the extra interface hardware.
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post #9 of 77
I don't understand this story.

The idea seems to be that because the 1.8" hard drive does not have a lot of appliations or usages that Apple is going to stop using it, and therefor kill the iPod Classic.

Huh? Why would Apple care about how well the 1.8" drives sells for other purposes? Whether or not the Apple discontinues the iPod Classic has nothing to do with sales of these drives, so long as Apple can get enough of them. In fact, the causality is actually the opposite of what this story posits. Apple would cause a decline in 1.8" hard drives sales by discontinuing the iPod Classic, not the other way around.
post #10 of 77
Every single one of my iPods had a failed hard drive at one point in its life so I will shed no tears over this. However, storage capacity on the iPod Touch and iPhone seems to double every year so it will be September 2010 for the Touch and June 2011 for the iPhone before the Classic's disk space is surpassed.
post #11 of 77
What if Apple turned the screen sideways (psuedo iPod nano-style) and just had a bigger storage space in the iPod. Make it a little more expensive ($300) and sell it as a BIG storage media storage and playback device to those who need more than 80-100GB.

Thoguhts?
post #12 of 77
I have the 160gb Classic - and love it. It surely gets used rarely (since my iPhone became my friend on my way to work and back). The most I use it for is (please don't laugh) the stop watch when cooking eggs on sunday mornings.

BUT, whenever I go for a longer bike ride or lay in the park, I have my classic with me and love the fact that it holds my whole 70gb music/podcast collection. Also on transatlantic flights I use it heavily for the tv-shows I put on it (several shows, whole seasons). And on top of that it's a GREAT portable hdd.

The main reason I got the new iPhone 3GS was the 32gb storage for music. But it's still not enough for my personal use. Unless I have 160gb or maybe even 200gb in an iPhone I will happily take my Classic from time to time.

And it's like an 80s Walkman - style, form etc. is a REAL classic already.

I guess they will continue the 120gb classic for another year until flash based iPods can reach that capacity. Maybe not many, but some people like to have a bigger storage iPod.
post #13 of 77
People have been talking about the Classic being discontinued since it was announced. I'm not so sure it will happen yet this year, but I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't upgrade the model this year with the rest of the iPod family, either.

I use my 120 GB Classic for the car, as I want my ENTIRE library available in the car at all times. I use my 32GB iPhone for day-to-day train commuting and walking use.

If the iPod Touch gets up to 64GB this year, 99% of people will be covered without the need for the Classic to exist. If they get it up to 128 the following year, 99.99999% will be covered. There's always going to be that person who has 500 GB worth of music out there. You can't make everyone happy.

My Classic should last until the 128GB touch comes out, since I don't use it, except in the car and on longer flights. If not, I'm sure the used market will be around for a while.
post #14 of 77
My 60GB iPod -- remember those? -- sits in my car (connected to the audio system) at all times. I take it out once a month or so to sync with iTunes.

So far, it has been through two harsh winters, and is on its second summer, and it still works beautifully!

I think they are very rugged machines.
post #15 of 77
I'm surprised the iPod classic lasted this long.
post #16 of 77
Well

There's goes my dream of ever owning a Gigapod.
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post #17 of 77
I own an 80gb iPod classic that I love. It's my favorite portable music player by far, and I love that it can hold my entire 40gb+ itunes library. I'll be sad if the iPod classic is ever discontinued, it gave a great amount of storage for a much more affordable price than the iPod Touch and/or iPhone.

While I own an iPod Touch, I find that I don't enjoy using it to listen to music. It's quickly become a portable web-browsing/organizational device rather than a music player, and I find that I frequently carry both devices with me.
post #18 of 77
Almost everyone on the NYC subway has a touch, iPhone or some other flash based iPod
post #19 of 77
It is about time Apple retired the Classic. It is also about time the Nano got the iPhone OS and all the fruits that come with it.

The hard disk just isn't as durable as solid state memory and sucks more power.
post #20 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by sontaikle View Post

I own an 80gb iPod classic that I love. It's my favorite portable music player by far, and I love that it can hold my entire 40gb+ itunes library. I'll be sad if the iPod classic is ever discontinued, it gave a great amount of storage for a much more affordable price than the iPod Touch and/or iPhone.

While I own an iPod Touch, I find that I don't enjoy using it to listen to music. It's quickly become a portable web-browsing/organizational device rather than a music player, and I find that I frequently carry both devices with me.

i love my ipod classic 160 gb, but... the big issue for it is that it has small screen size and now just doesnt have the programming capability of the touch.

If apple actually married the Touch programming and screen to the larger sized storage. it would be great and be a huge boost to this storage type. i am sure many of us wouldnt care about flash vs hard drive. we just want large storage and to be able to have full functionality. like genius, movie playback and more.

sorry, there isn't any real reason to give up on hard drives, but there is a reason to say apple hasn't exactly given too much love in the ipod line to it. here apple could be faulted for not updating the classic form to be more modern like the touch if not actually be a ipod touch.
post #21 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

Almost everyone on the NYC subway has a touch, iPhone or some other flash based iPod

Yup! I'm told there are two NYC subway commuters who have Zunes, but everyone else laughs at them.
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post #22 of 77
Wow - I'd love a 250GB classic. Then I could fit ALL my music on an ipod.

I have some flash ipods, and they're nice to carry around. But for the office, it's real nice to have my whole music collection here to listen to whatever I'm in the mood for (including several gigs of podcasts)

Unless they're losing money, no need to kill it. Keep a few around, make money off we music collectors...
post #23 of 77
Tearing.....sniff, sniff.
post #24 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by luke1robb View Post

What if Apple turned the screen sideways (psuedo iPod nano-style) and just had a bigger storage space in the iPod. Make it a little more expensive ($300) and sell it as a BIG storage media storage and playback device to those who need more than 80-100GB.

Thoguhts?

At this point in the iPod Classic's life I don't think Cupertino wants to invest the time in a major redesign or propping up a dying dinosaur.

I think one of two things will happen.
1) Apple will keep the 120GB size for another year or so until the iPod Touch catches up and then discontinue it.

2) Convert the iPod Classic to flash memory and keep it around for a few more years.(Some people just like the physical size and the touch wheel interface as opposed to the mini's size or the Touch's touchscreen. Classic = interface)
post #25 of 77
A 250GB HD iPod Classic? Now THAT I'd wait in line for!

I've got nothing against moving to flash memory over hard drives, I'm just concerned about the trend towards reduced capacity and nothing but touch screens. My 160GB Classic is my main iPod, I use it for several hours every day. The Touch almost never gets used. I also use my Classic as a portable hard drive to transport files between home and the studio.

If a larger than 160GB flash based model comes out that still has physical controls and the ability to enable disk use, I'd buy it.
post #26 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

My 60GB iPod -- remember those? -- sits in my car (connected to the audio system) at all times. I take it out once a month or so to sync with iTunes.

So far, it has been through two harsh winters, and is on its second summer, and it still works beautifully!

I think they are very rugged machines.

My 10GB iPod has a FireWire 400 port on it! Remember those?
It is still in very good condition as is my 4GB iPhone(I'm keeping it even though I've upgraded to the 3GS).
Now I just wish I had a Newton to round out my collection.
post #27 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcip View Post

Right when they were getting to the size I needed for all my music. I have two 160GB, one sits in my glovebox feeding the car stereo, one is my walkabout that stays docked in my sounddock.

Hope they vastly increase the size of the SSD Ipods before they are going to kill the classic.

I'll never understand why people seem to need this much space just for music.

I'm a music collector and I always buy full albums instead of songs and people are always ribbing me about how "stupid large" my music library is but even so it's only 16 Gigs or so. I can't imagine even owning 10 times that amount of music let alone really needing to play it all the time.

If it was for music *and* video it makes some kind of sense, but music alone should not take up that much space.
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post #28 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post

... sorry, there isn't any real reason to give up on hard drives, but there is a reason to say apple hasn't exactly given too much love in the ipod line to it. here apple could be faulted for not updating the classic form to be more modern like the touch if not actually be a ipod touch.

This is just wrong.

There is no evidence to support the idea that Apple hasn't "supported" the HD models in the iPod line. After all, they started the idea, went with it in al the form factors available and only phased them out as similarly priced solid state storage became available.

Just because they didn't decide to make a shoe-box sized version of the iPod touch that weighs a pound and a half with a 250 Gig hard drive on the back doesn't mean they aren't supporting hard drives. The classic is already a niche product, why should they make some horribly designed sub-niche product that would ruin their design reputation for the three or four people that want them?
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post #29 of 77
I think it's unlikely that Apple will cut the iPod Classic in the near term. There's the obvious reason that even 64GB is not 120GB or 250GB. But beyond that, there is the price issue. The 120GB iPod Classic costs $249 while a 8GB iPod Touch costs $229. Even if iPod Touch capacity doubles, the cost per gigabyte is still significantly higher with the iPod Touch. Apple still needs a high capacity option at a reasonable price for those who are primarily looking for music player functionality. A 64GB iPod Touch looks to cost $399.

Seeing there reports little interest in 250GB 1.8" HDDs, Apple is obviously not using it for near-term refreshes. The next iPod Classic will probably return to 160GB in the thin form-factor or maybe 200GB if they are available.
post #30 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I'll never understand why people seem to need this much space just for music.

I'm a music collector and I always buy full albums instead of songs and people are always ribbing me about how "stupid large" my music library is but even so it's only 16 Gigs or so. I can't imagine even owning 10 times that amount of music let alone really needing to play it all the time.

16GB is a VERY small collection by today's standards. My iTunes library is over 185GB, and I still don't have anywhere near all of my CDs imported yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

If it was for music *and* video it makes some kind of sense, but music alone should not take up that much space.

That's the thing, iPods do a lot more than just play songs. Movies, TV shows, podcasts, audiobooks, etc. They all take space. The beauty of the Classic is being able to take everything with you, especially in the car. As it is, with the capacity max of 160GB for my classic, I STILL have to exclude most podcasts and videos from auto-syncing. That's why what I really want is a 250GB iPod.
post #31 of 77
I think there is still a market for high capacity iPods. A full season of any TV show, plus the average album collection, is way more than 32GB or even 64GB, so 100GBs plus is still desirable. So the question becomes, what is the capacity cieling for most consumers, and how long will it be before SSD is affordable at that capacity. I think it's going to settle aroud 120 - 160GBs

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post #32 of 77
I don't think this report confirms anything in regards to the future of the iPod Classic IMO.
I have the 80 Gb Classic and i love it to death! I never leave the house without my Classic and my iPhone.

But, if this does signal the end of an era, i will go out and purchase a 160 Gb right away. Even though I have an iPhone with podcasts and videos on it. It still doesn't replace the iPod classic for work, as a shower radio or in the car. You just can't easily control the iPhone or iPod Touch without looking down at the screen (major road hazard IMO). Sure most car adapters now transfer control to the car stereo controls but not all cars...my 2000 Honda or people like me who still use an FM Transmitter. Plus, on the FM Transmitter you have to disable the phone/web functions to play it.

I'm one of those people who like the simplicity of the Classic and I like having my entire library in the palm of my hand at any time. The iPhone and iPod Touch will never replace that FOR ME...iPod Classic for Music and Podcasts, and iPhone/Touch for videos, photos etc.

What i'd like to see is a flash-version of the Classic. But, having a 160 Gb flash drive is still way too expensive. They can barely get that in the MB Air. Sure, I only have about 50 Gb of music and video, but some day i'll have more.
post #33 of 77
Too bad, I like the high storage capacity of the iPod classics. It allows me to take a large portion of my music collection with me. I hope Apple doesn't kill it off until flash memory has the same capacity, if it ever does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I'll never understand why people seem to need this much space just for music. I'm a music collector and I always buy full albums instead of songs and people are always ribbing me about how "stupid large" my music library is but even so it's only 16 Gigs or so. I can't imagine even owning 10 times that amount of music let alone really needing to play it all the time.

16 gigs isn't "stupid large." Mine is about 150GB so far. Not all of it was purchased music, though, most of it came from my CD music collection. Everything from electronic to opera.
post #34 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Yup! I'm told there are two NYC subway commuters who have Zunes, but everyone else laughs at them.

It really is pretty amazing. I play a game when I get on the subway. I give myself points whenever someone sitting right next to me is using an iPhone or Touch. Sometimes I get two points because people on both sides are!

I take points away when it doesn't happen. I'm almost breaking even. That's amazing, and it doesn't count all the people using them in the car that aren't sitting next to me (when I CAN get a seat, that is).

But I'm ahead of you, I've seen three Zunes since they first came out, but not one in several months.

Interestingly enough, in London last week, we also saw lots of iPhone/Touches, but no Zunes.
post #35 of 77
I would love to see them slap a 250 GB hard drive in an iPod Touch (or heck, even an iPhone) but I have a feeling there are fewer who feel as I do then want matte screen's on a 15" MPB

I'm not holding my breath, but it would be nice!
post #36 of 77
By the way, the story is wrong in one important area.

Flash prices have gone up 137% in the past 6 months. That's more than two and a half times. It's expected that the price increases, which are pretty much across the board, are going to hold back SSD adoption for a good 6 to 9 months from where they were expected to be.

Some people may remember a few years back when RAM prices dropped a lot because of a glut. 512 MB DIMMS were selling for $49. But 6 months later they were at $125 for the same capacity. It took a year for prices to approach where they had been.

Let's keep this in mind before we get too excited.
post #37 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I'll never understand why people seem to need this much space just for music.

I'm a music collector and I always buy full albums instead of songs and people are always ribbing me about how "stupid large" my music library is but even so it's only 16 Gigs or so. I can't imagine even owning 10 times that amount of music let alone really needing to play it all the time.

If it was for music *and* video it makes some kind of sense, but music alone should not take up that much space.

Because a lot of it isn't gotten from, let us say, legit sources, so it doesn't cost them anything.
post #38 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Because a lot of it isn't gotten from, let us say, legit sources, so it doesn't cost them anything.

True. Moreover, some audiophiles import from CDs at higher 'resolutions.'
post #39 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I'll never understand why people seem to need this much space just for music.

I'm a music collector and I always buy full albums instead of songs and people are always ribbing me about how "stupid large" my music library is but even so it's only 16 Gigs or so. I can't imagine even owning 10 times that amount of music let alone really needing to play it all the time.

If it was for music *and* video it makes some kind of sense, but music alone should not take up that much space.

This is laughable. I have 2TB of music - my 6000+ CD collection (ripped to Apple Lossless) plus a ton of downloaded music. No video, no podcasts, no data files. Just music. I would love to have the entire 2TB on an iPod.

So it is about 2TB right now. But it is growing all the time. My trouble is having enough external hard drive capacity to store it in a convenient form. I have two 2TB Western Digital drives and several 1TB drives. I'm waiting anxiously for higher capacity 3.5" drives which I want to RAID. A couple of 10TB in a RAID 1 configuration would be nice... would take care of my music storage needs for a couple of years, until I outgrow that
post #40 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

True. Moreover, some audiophiles import from CDs at higher 'resolutions.'

In some cases, yes. But those saying they need more than 160 GB for their music collections are a bit suspect in most cases.
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