at one point, the iPod produced a “halo effect” for Apple; people bought iPods because they were the best digital music player available and that purchase introduced them to the idea of buying a Mac. why did this happen? the barrier to entry was extremely high as Apple’s Macintosh computers were much more expensive than competing PCs. however, once a non-Mac user bought an iPod, they were forced to enter an Apple Store and witness first hand the kind of support and service that came with every Apple purchase. for many, it was a completely new experience: tech support was immediate with warranty followups managed immediately, on-site service, and most of all, one on one support that began from the moment of purchase that ensured every buyer went home with something usable, the knowledge required to use it, and the security of knowing they could take it to a pro if there was ever any trouble. even to this day, no other computer manufacturer or retailer offers the kind of support and service Apple provides.
since the introduction of the iPhone, the iPod has quickly taken a back seat as iOS devices are able to provide the function of any iPod and a whole lot more. sales have fallen in every quarter since the introduction of the iPhone 3G. people just have no use for a one trick pony like the iPod, with the majority of sales going to teens and current iPhone owners who just want a cheaper, music only device they don’t have to worry about breaking. the once important halo effect the iPod used to provide has disappeared, the iPhone and iPad now taking up that responsibility. in act, one could argue the halo effect is now gone, since the iPad has become an entry device whose users may no longer require the power of a full-on Mac.
because of this change in dynamic, unless Apple plans to axe the iPod lineup, the iPod’s focus needs to change. there is one way to do this: give the iPod a new reason to exist. where once it was a way to get people in the door, now it needs to evolve and become instead a supporting act.
give every iPod in the lineup Bluetooth connectivity. for the iPod classic, also include Wi-Fi. Apple wants to sell people on iCloud for data storage, but there will always be users who don’t always have access to an always-on Internet connection, thus negating the effectiveness of iCloud. this will remain true as long as Apple keeps selling iPads and iPod touches without 3G/4G connectivity. so why not build in Wi-Fi into the iPod classic and sell it as an external storage device, secondary to its ability to store and play a large catalog of music? in fact, why not expand the Camera Connection Kit, specifically the USB adapter, and allow the iPod classic to connect to the iPad or iPhone via USB? increase the iPod classic back to 240GB and now you have another reason for shoppers to take another look at it.
shuffle remote, anyone? why not give the iPod shuffle bluetooth capability and allow it to pair with iPhone and be used as a wireless remote? at one point, you could buy an inline remote for iPod and iPhone that resembled today’s shuffle. yes, the inline remote built into each Apple headset is nice, but the option to be untethered would give users a chance to buy Apple instead of buying from a number of other wireless headset providers. a shuffle and headset clipped to your shirt, wirelessly connected to the iPhone in your backpack, streaming tunes and allowing one to remove their backpack without the painful tug of the headset being ripped from the ears.
ride a bicycle? you then know how there are many useful cycling computer apps available. in fact, you probably use one like I do and keep your iPhone mounted to your bike. like me, you probably either have a Bluetooth headset or are considering buying one after one too many pulls on the wired headset when dismounting. or trying to skip tracks with your tethered headset. why not an iPod shuffle, paired using Bluetooth and clipped to your jersey instead of being tethered to an iPhone mounted to your bike’s bars or stem?
these are just a few ways to bring relevance to a stagnant iPod lineup that’s losing reasons to exist as time moves on. use them to create an ecosystem around the iOS lineup and turn current iPhone owners into iPod buyers again. there’s no reason why an iPhone owner ant also own an iPod; you just have to give them another reason to consider it. for the cost of a $4 Bluetooth 4.0 chip, you can give the iPod a reason to exist alongside every iOS device sold.