Apple iPod media events, hardware changes nowhere to be found this year

For the first year ever, Apple held no special media events for any of its iPod line of products. Since its induction in 2001, the iPod has received some form of public promotional treatment every year. It also underwent some hardware changes–sometimes major, sometimes minor–every year, but not in 2013. This could signal an eventual phasing out of the iPod as a standalone music player.

Today marks the twelfth anniversary of the advent of the iPod, notes Apple Insider. The Apple-centric publication took the occasion to mark time through the portable device's history, from its humble debut through its boom years and all the way to the unsettlingly quiet moments it's experiencing right now. The evolution of its form, capacities, and position in the market are worth noting.

Most interestingly, the iPod debuted for $399. Back then, it held "only" 1,000 songs–plenty for any self-respecting music hoarder to store their libraries on. Since then we've grown more gluttonous as a people (at least in terms of digital media), and the modern "classic" iPod now holds "your top 40,000" songs, as Apple puts it. The price? $249. That's a $50 drop for a 4,000% increase in capacity, and that's not even adjusted for inflation. Of course, price drops are part of the normal evolution of digital products, especially portable ones like MP3 players, but it does point up the fact that many, many other products have come on the market from Apple in the intervening years, all of which worked to dilute demand for any individual product and forced Apple to choose which of its golden geese to focus on.

The iPod has gone through countless iterations leading up to the current iPods shuffle, nano, classic, and touch. The iPod touch, being just a non-phone version of the iPhone capable of running most of the same exact apps, is an especially poignant harbinger of the standalone iPod's possible impending demise. Intended as a transitional device for consumers new to Apple when it was first introduced, the iPod touch has helped bridge the gap from music player to multitasking mobile powerhouse in terms of market demand. It symbolizes the current crossroads at which Apple has found itself of late as the company continues to devote more and more of its efforts into the iPhones 5s and 5c and iPads Air and Retina mini.

Could this year's relative silence about the iPod line, and its accompanying lack of any noticeable hardware update, signal its retirement? The company still offers the devices for sale on its website and will continue to support new purchases, but for how long? As Apple wades deeper into the odd backwaters of the smartphone market, it appears the company has already left the iPod–the little MP3 player that singlehandedly led the way for the iPhone that ultimately shook the smartphone world to the core–to swim for itself.

SOURCE: Apple Insider