Who are the Cranks? The Death of The Ipod, Being with It, and Corporate Control
Apple is trying very hard to kill their iconic iPod. The first blow came in the Fall of 2014 with an announcement that the iPod Classic was going out of production. This week, Apple quietly and suddenly demoted the iPod from their main page in order promote Apple Music, their new streaming service.
This is not the only form of technology that has disappeared in recent history. The A.V. Club ran an article this week about the brief life of the DVD.
Both technologies are being pushed for on-line streaming services where the customer lacks a copy of their desired songs or movies. Apple has been especially pushing for cloud computing and control by removing the disc drive from many of their computers. You can buy an external drive but Apple is making most programs and other features available through their Apple Store.
I generally like Apple products and have used Apple computers since my freshman year of college in 1998. I also really love my iPod Classic. I like the device for its simplicity. It is 160 gigabytes of storage and can hold all my music. This is all I want it to do. I like this small portable device that I can take to the gym or anywhere really. I also like that most of the music is mine. I have downloaded songs from the Apple Store but I have also uploaded stuff from my personal CD collection and purchased CDs from Amoeba Records.
My girlfriend thinks I am a bit of an old fogey because of my iPod love. I’m 34. She is 31. I recently needed to go to the Apple Store because of some damage to my iPod. Apple had a replacement that they sold me for 129 dollars plus tax and a simple 90-day warranty – no more Apple Care for three years of repairs. My girlfriend asked why couldn’t I take my iPhone to the gym and use Pandora or Spotify or any other streaming service?
The answer is simply that I don’t want to. I don’t want to bother with dropped internet connections or signing on to my gym’s wi-fi network. I just want to play music and go. There is nothing wrong with streaming per se. I use Pandora in my car. I watch movies on Netflix The big issues for me over streaming basically involve a lack of ownership. Apple or any other service can choose to take away a song or band anytime they like or they can make it very hard to find desired content.
Yet the response to these sort of concerns seems to be labeling people as out-of-it luddites and as deeply uncool. I am constantly surprised by how people who are not that much younger than me are completely trusting of all sorts of Tech 2.0 apps. They will pay each other back using their phones, they will pay for coffee using their phones, they will stream everything, and look at anyone who likes physical copies of music and books as being kind of a dinosaur. Also they find it strange to encounter people who still use cash and checks.
Yet I am not sure why we should allow corporations this much control over how people listen to music or watch movies. Apple likes Apple Music for clear reasons. You pay them the same amount on a monthly or yearly basis. The same is true for Netflix. They get your 7.99 or whatever monthly whether you watch 100 movies a month or one or two movies a month. They would probably prefer that you only watch one or two movies or TV shows a month, just like your gym prefers it if you never show up or only show up once or twice a week or month.
The tech companies are great at creating tribes though and one of the biggest things that they seem able to do is to mark anyone with a criticism for their products and company as deeply uncool and out of it.