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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 76
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 76
    brucepbrucep Posts: 2,823member
    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 .
  • Reply 3 of 76
    elkcipelkcip Posts: 1member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 76
    resnycresnyc Posts: 90member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 76
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 76
    applestudapplestud Posts: 367member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 76
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 76
    ceolafceolaf Posts: 3member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 76
    shookstershookster Posts: 113member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 76
    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?
  • Reply 11 of 76
    bluenixbluenix Posts: 40member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 76
    mrjoec123mrjoec123 Posts: 223member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 76
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 76
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    I'm surprised the iPod classic lasted this long.
  • Reply 15 of 76
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,141member
    Well



    There's goes my dream of ever owning a Gigapod.
  • Reply 16 of 76
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 76
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    Almost everyone on the NYC subway has a touch, iPhone or some other flash based iPod
  • Reply 18 of 76
    mactelmactel Posts: 1,275member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 76
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 76
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    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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