After last year's iPod announcement it seemed clear that they had given up. It was a pretty good decision considering their primary product, the iPhone, was an iPod as well. Microsoft recognized that the portable music player market was over, discontinuing their Zune player. I had suggested that last year would be their last year for the iPod, wanting to see it through its 10th birthday. This week, however, brought a surprising announcement: a new line of iPods.
We'll start with the redesigned iPod Nano. The last generation, which was a design nightmare, looked like a touchscreen version of the Shuffle. This year, the Nano has returned to its former shape, but retained the touchscreen. In fact, at first glance, you might think it was an iPod Touch Nano. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. The biggest difference between an iPod Touch and an iPod Nano is the lack of iOS. Despite owning the operating system, and the device name starting with the letter i, the Nano runs another operating system. This means, even with a nice touchscreen and an interface that mimics iOS, there is no way to install standard iOS apps. Other than that, it is a nice change for the Nano family, especially after the last version.
The iPod Touch 5th Generation has also had a nice upgrade. Similar to the iPhone 5, the new iPod Touch has a 4" Retina display, 5MP iSight camera and Siri. Of course, it will run iOS 6, meaning it gets all the new features, like a series of applications that support a longer screen. Along with the new camera comes the ability to record 1080p video and take lower light photos. Also, for the first time, the iPod Touch will come in a large collection of colors, just like the Nano. All-in-all, it is a nice upgrade to the iPod Touch family.
Speaking of family, the 4th Generation Touch is not going anywhere. It will remain on the line-up as the low-cost alternative, similar to how Apple treats their previous model iPhones. It will, however, get the upgrade to iOS 6 to allow Siri, among other new features. This upgrade will also be available to existing iPod Touch 4th Generation models. The iPod Shuffle and Classic will also remain on the line-up, mostly unchanged. As the odd-balls of the family, however, these models do not need to be reworked often.
While it is a bit of a surprise that they did not retire the iPod line-up, it is nice to see that are at least trying again. If the devices are going to exist, they might as well be something people want, and this time they seem to have nailed it. I know, I said Apple nailed it - it is surprising. While the target market is shrinking fast, they are making the best of what is left.