Groundbreaking Apple iPod Classic fades toward obscurity

WASHINGTON – Just by looking at it, you can tell the iPod Classic is the black sheep of the Apple family.

“What is it?” asked Stephanie Breakman, outside the Tenleytown Metro station.

For many of us, the iPod was our introduction to Apple mobile devices, allowing us to carry and listen to thousands of songs on a single device. Later models included video.

But in the wake of Tuesday’s announcement about iPhone, many people we spoke with – as well as industry analysts – believe the Classic’s days of usefulness are numbered.

With its clickwheel selector, and small screen, the iPod Classic and the inexpensive iPod shuffle are the only Apple devices with that feature.

“I actually had the first one,” laughs Doug Wilberding.

The first iPod was introduced in Oct. 2001. It was the first wildly successful way to carry music-on-the-go.

Apple marketed the battery-operated device as a way to carry “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

The 6th generation iPod was introduced in 2007, and the latest 160GB model was released in 2009.

With streaming audio and increased storage now available on iPhone and iPad, iPod’s singular ability to carry dowloaded files is becoming antiquated.

“Now that I have iPhone, why can’t I put (music) on here?” wondered Breakman.

“This has become too bulky. People would rather have one item,” echoes Wilberding.

Still, some believe the iPod remains a viable alternative for a smaller audience.

“It’s super simple,” says Jesse Holliday.”I taught my grandmother to use one, and the simplicity of this got me to buy other Apple products.”

Emily Dube and Ivanna Agudo fondly recall having iPods as young teens.

“I remember having one of these and it actually never broke regardless of the amount of times I dropped it,” smiles Agudo.

“The iPod grew up as we grew up,” says Dube.

Click to watch late Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduce the first iPod in 2001.

WTOPtech intern Sarah Weimar contributed to this story

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