New iPod colors mockup

It’s no secret that iPod sales continue to decline year after year. Many of the people who were once targets for the iPod now opt for iPhones or iPads.

This isn’t exactly a terrible problem for Apple to have. The company has never had qualms about cannibalizing its own products for the sake of the greater good.

But with Apple’s historic, and now renewed, love of music, it just wouldn’t seem right to let the iPod—at least its conceptual existence, and not so much the name—fade out into the sunset.

For that reason, I think that Apple should go back to the drawing board. Even if this year’s rumored across-the-board iPod update is nothing more than just a meager spec bump and minor changes—I think that ultimately, the line is due for a complete overhaul.

How could Apple reinvigorate its flagship music player? By doing the following five things…

iPod nano new colors iTunes graphics

Start from scratch

Get rid of anything that isn’t focused on music. This means that the iPod touch would no longer be a poor man’s iPhone. No longer would an “iPod” be able to run most the same apps that you run on an iPhone or iPad.

It would take a line of reasoning and a stance that’s different from the status quo.

Instead, only allow the iPod to download audio-centric apps. Think Spotify, Rdio, Overcast, etc. There’s no reason to run a mapping app on a device solely intended for music.

Right now, some who may consider an iPod touch are likely thinking: “Why spend this much for an iPod, when I could just upgrade to an iPhone, and have the real thing?”

Instead of risking that line of thought, change the audience to those are are squarely focused on audio.

iPod touch 5G

A new form-factor

I’m all for taking the iPod nano, and iPod touch, and merging them into a single device. Since this device would no longer need to run iOS-proper, with its sole focus on Music apps, it could take on a different shape, size, or dimension.

The new form-factor wouldn’t have the same requirements as the currently existing iPod touch. There would be no camera or flash, for instance. Apple could use this opportunity to create something unique, and at the same time simplify its lineup.

The new iPod could stand on its own and not be confused with its more popular cousin, the iPhone. Plus, the new form factor opens up an opportunity to improve things like speaker design and acoustics.

Apple Music teaser 001

Music everywhere

Apple has finally entered into the streaming music game with the acquisition of Beats Music, and the subsequent launch of Apple Music. Now it’s more important than before for us maintain an internet connection so that we can use Apple Music’s streaming features—so that we can use Beats 1.

How to solve this? Embed cellular radios similar to the ones that we have in our iPhones.

Apple could take an Amazon Kindle-esque route, and provide complimentary Internet access to those who purchase a new iPod and sign up for Apple Music. Basically, your monthly Apple Music fee, and the price you paid for the device, would be helping to offset the cost of the Internet access.

In this case, since there are no other apps, Internet access would be limited solely to the music apps featured on the device, or, if Apple wanted to be really strict, limited solely to Apple Music streaming. T-Mobile does something now with its Music Freedom initiative where music streaming isn’t counted against your monthly data rate, so I think there’s at least some precedent and room for negotiation in this area.

Even if complimentary internet access is a far-fetched option, we’re all very familiar with how to add an additional device to our wireless plan by now—give us the opportunity to add our iPods.

Regardless of how it’s implemented, I think it’s safe to say that this device needs to be able to access the Internet at all times to truly benefit from Beats 1 and Apple Music.

beats colors 1

Sound quality

There have been rumors of Apple working on improving the sound quality of its devices for years with so-called high-res music, but a new iPod would be the perfect device to showcase such technology. With a renewed focus on music, and a ditching of all of the extra weight and fluff, Apple could laser focus on sound quality, both from a codec perspective, and from a hardware perspective.

With its acquisition of Beats, it has also gained a wealth of music-centric peripherals, including headphones. While the Beats offerings do carry a mixed reputation, I think the quality of its headphones still exceed the quality of anything we’ve seen packed in with an Apple device up until this point.

I would also like to see Apple focus more on the external speaker. Obviously, with the limitation of surface area, a small form factor isn’t going to provide you with a wide range of quality sound, but if other phone manufacturers have taught us anything, Apple can definitely improve over its current offerings.

iPhone 5 battery life

Battery life

With simplified internals, lower RAM requirements, storage requirements, and simplified apps, Apple could make the battery of the new iPod last a lot longer than it currently does today. Imagine it being the first Apple device touted to last a full 24 hours on a single charge. That would turn a lot of heads. With a new form-factor and a simpler focus, greatly improved battery life is within the realm of possibilities.

Conclusion

Quarter after quarter, we’ve watched sales continue to decline. It’s gotten to the point where Apple no longer reports its iPod sales anymore. This trend will not stop unless Apple makes a significant change. Apple has to make the iPod the sexy and desirable product that it once was.

Listen to Cody and I discuss this on Let’s Talk iOS

Music is in Apple’s DNA, and I have a hard time believing they want to continue down this path of declining sales for its once flagship music player. Apple has the resources, and it has the guts to truly change the narrative with regard to the iPod. With a renewed laser focus on the basics, I believe that Apple can do that. Will they? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  • Lucus Bendzsa

    Bring me this device and a classic Touch. I want a 5.5″ iPod Touch.

    • With 3000+mah battery. Right on bro.

  • I’m gonna have to disagree with the iPod touch being totally focused on music. The main reason why I love the iPod touch is because it’s an iPhone without the phone capabilities. It’d be so useful for developers who want the cheaper option or for kids.

    • socrates

      Agreed. I think if they restrict the application environment, they would lose many buyers.

      Instead, tailoring the iPod Nano’s ecosystem to only music downloads would be smart. This would be achievable, and would also differentiate the iPod Nano from a full iPod Touch for the first time.

      • Jonas Johnson

        An iPod Touch with just music and nothing else would suck. Years ago when I had my iPod Touch it was the bomb. I didn’t have a iPhone but iPod Touch is just right next to it.

      • socrates

        Bingo. Only reason I’m the owner of an iPhone, iPad, and Mac Pro is because the iPod Touch did such a great job at capturing my interest.

      • Jonas Johnson

        I have a iPhone 6 Plus now so I’m in no need for a iPod Touch. It still would be nice to see apple create a iPod Touch 6g.

  • Chindavon

    Redesign and can’t look like an iPhone is a must. I think they should pair this with a subscription with Apple Music. Maybe all iPods should come with Beats EarPods to really sweeten the package.

    • Agreed, it really can’t look like a flatted iPhone any more. At least I hope it no longer does.

      • Anonomous.TECH.man

        Btw way this is kinda bad and funny and I swear this is not fabricated just say the word esophagus to Siri and read the Wikipedia if Apple don’t fix it.

  • Dallas Groot

    The iPhone 5c had different dates on the boxes for some of the colours. (Some had Monday and some had Tuesday). Just an fwi.

  • Jaime Micha

    They really should think of some sort of iPod Classic but with new technology involving FLAC files, music subscriptions. I agree with you Jeff, it should be a music focused design and no longer an iPhone without a phone.

    • Jackson Grong

      A 15$ Apple Music subscription with flac lossless quality would be awesome, but it will never happen.

  • Corey Lake

    Maybe this would be good for some but personally I would never carry a second device just for music. All in one is for me.

    • Mattoligy

      That’s why it needs to offer something the iPhone doesn’t! 😉

  • iPhoneWINS

    EASY AS THIS BUT THEY WONT:

    1. 256, AND 500GB STORAGE OPTIONS

    2. Ability to play FLAC format this is a must

    3. super high end audiophile DAC

    4. Strong internal headphone amp

    ^^^^thats all they need to do then every audiophile DJ produces etc will want it and so will regular folks

    • AAPL.To.Break.$130.Soon>:-)

      Hardly anyone is going to be willing to pay for what you’re asking for. It would drive the price up too high. Not enough a a customer base for that type of device.

  • taran

    Apple Music plus 3G builtin(just like Kindle) and you got a winner!

  • That_Fruitarian

    Apple’s iPod sales haven’t declined if you know where to look… The iPod now has a cellular radio and cost much more than it used to. It breaks records quarter after quarter. And they change its name to ‘iPhone’.

  • MCTDynamic

    I have the newest iPod Nano and I find a lot of the features they invested their time and money into are pointless. First off, people do not need videos and photos on their iPod. The iPod should be focused on Music. My iPhone has more features in the music app than the iPod music app itself. Another thing is that the iPod nano screen is sooo small therefore it should NOT be a touchscreen. Bring back the classic circle thing.

    • AAPL.To.Break.$130.Soon>:-)

      Yeah, an iPod Classic with solid state memory replacing the hard drive would be great. I also prefer a click-wheel for a music player and a small, bright screen to show artwork and song info. And a really big battery.

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    I agree about the “Battery Life” section of this post. Due to lower hardware specs, and a larger form-factor, Apple could easily fit in an iPhone 6 size battery or better, easily making it last up to 24hrs on a single charge (actual usage time).

    • Gervaas

      24 hrs is really bad for an iPod… The latest iPod Classic is rated at 30 hours and the thick Classic they had before was rated at 40 hours of music playback. I think 24 hours would be a downgrage instead of an improvement…

  • Brandon

    the ipod touch was my gateway to an iphone because i was already in the ecosystem of apps etc., not sure i agree with you on that one

  • Anonomous.TECH.man

    If Apple was worried about sound quality they wouldn’t of bought beats. They bought beats for their connections with the music industry to make apple music a thing. Apple makes pricy electronics that last and have well developed software. Beats make very pricy piles of garbage their is no defense you don’t get what you pay for. They look decent and our pretty well packaged but I wouldn’t buy one.

    • I think there are a few Beats products that are decent.

      • Mr.Coolfreak

        Not for the price though

      • Anonomous.TECH.man

        True but for the money I don’t want decent. Beats do appeal to the average consumer which is apples main target so I guess it works for Apple.

    • Chindavon

      I beg you differ. My New Studios are fantastic.

      • Jackson Grong

        *look fantastic

      • Chindavon

        Thank you for the insight Audiophile Master.

    • Jackson Grong

      Can’t agree more, Beat are “the cool headphones” that athletes wear for money, if you really care about sound quality you’ll never buy them

      • oh Hal

        This is no longer true.

  • Personally, I use my iPod touch as my main device and rely heavily on Google Hangouts and iMessage to communicate with friends and family, so I can’t agree with you on having only music-based apps. Same goes for the camera, but that’s just my personal opinion. I do agree with you on everything else, especially battery life and sound quality. While, currently, both of these things are okay, Apple can do better. Design wise, I’d rather have a thicker device if it meant better specs. Bigger screen size would be great as well.

  • deepdvd

    This is a ridiculous idea, so I wouldn’t put it past Apple. Well, actually I would. Parents give their younger kids a personal handheld computer/gaming device when they don’t want them to have a phone. This is the biggest thing I see iPod touches being used for everywhere I go. It’s pocket-able, unlike an iPad, and more personal. I think the biggest reason for the decline is either parents are giving their old “disconnected” iPhones to their children OR it’s Apple’s fault for not releasing a new version for YEARS.

  • Mr.Coolfreak

    You basically want Apple to remove the features that make the iPod touch worth buying

    • Chindavon

      Well…that’s the whole reason why the iPod is dead. It’s 99% an iPhone, so who wants and iPod touch when you get all that in an iPhone. The only way to get around this is to do a complete build from scratch.

      • Mr.Coolfreak

        But why would I be interested in an iPod if it just does audio, and my smartphones can do the same thing? I don’t know how restricting it to just audio will revive the lineup

      • AAPL.To.Break.$130.Soon>:-)

        Some people still prefer single-purpose devices but I don’t know if that’s a very large market for Apple. I still use my iPods just to go running. I think Apple would need to do a lot of research on who needs what in terms of devices. There’s so much function overlap nowadays.

      • It wouldn’t. People seem to forget that there’s a lot of families that can’t afford for all their family members to have iPhones. And when the children (like me) start college, do you think that’ll get better? Of course not. iPod Touches are such a great thing because they can do what iPhones can do, but we don’t need a data plan with it.

  • alfon_sico

    Total agree. New iPod should be = Apple watch + Apple nano. Podcast music and multimedia streaming for principal

  • I wish Apple update the UI of iPod nano to match skin of iOS 7/8

  • port87

    bring an FM radio and somehow have beats1 work with it without wifi.

  • oh Hal

    Sales are dropping because they never update the devices and they still want a premium price. I don’t want an iPhone. I’m sorry, but not everyone has the desire much less the money. A modern iPod touch is an easy way for them to make money. If they made an effort with the Mac Mini they could sell many, many more of them.

    Your notion that they should abandon products that take almost zero development and yield easy profits needs an explanation. This article just throws out he premise that old, expensive products don’t sell because there isn’t demand. And then you want the company to produce special software that blocks functionality.

    There are also dozens of devices that produce better sound quality, many of them cheaper. Blocking functionality and producing a better, yet inferior product?

  • Dan G

    So basically you want an improved MP3 player…

  • Dante Arellano

    Are u willing to carry two divices charge them take care of them its like carrying two wallets just like that only purpose for its fitness or for a little kid that cant have iphone

  • Dante Arellano

    …but for sure many of ya going to buy a new ipod just cus now its gold color or has beats music whata inovation

    • oh Hal

      Yeah, smart people migrated from DOS to Chrome. You can’t get more innovation than those two.

  • Uh, the reason a lot of people choose iPod Touch over the iPhone is because we can’t afford the monthly data costs. Not everyone has the money for that.

  • Yagami

    If the new iPod focuses only on music, I’ll buy the current iPod instead…

  • ajb030

    This is probably the worst idea in the history of Apple mobile devices. I’m all for killing or changing the Nano and Shuffle. But the Touch? NO. This is something they need. For people like me who don’t or can’t have a job, there is no steady income to power an iPhone. I need my iPod Touch, I love it. This should be the iPhone without the phone. Please. There are people who love the touch, and I am one of them.

  • maaen

    I am tired of this small size in an Ipod touch and have wanted a large screen device for a very long time but apple will not entertain a larger screen in an I pod touch because of a certain thought process all of its own …but there is a much bigger market in some size variations…..and with that in mind they also need a baby Ipad of about 6 inch screen size and upto 256gb of storage capacity and consider some older generations who do not much care for an iphone but would go for a larger screen device for its music and video and games playing capability and for web browsing and emailing purposes…but Apple being made of a certain strangeness including selfish business ethics will only go for limited variety in its product range and deny sensible product variations to a potentially larger market in the hope of controlling it’s customer base….well …They can count me out of buying what they have on offer….I have my own needs to consider and a small size of Ipod touch will never be for me …and that Ipad mini is too damn large for true portability and pocket friendliness….and in the case of ladies …purse friendliness…