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How Apple Music could launch the iPod's comeback

Michael Simon | July 8, 2015
The iPod was Apple's original rock star. Back before the iPhone became a global sensation and the iPad led the post-PC revolution, the iPod was the device generating long lines and record-breaking sales.

Apple has always used its services as a way to lock in customers to its ecosystem once you have two devices operating in concert with iCloud the odds of switching drop substantially but Apple Music is different. Not only does it mark the first and only foray into the world of Android (not counting the fatalistic Move to iOS app), it's put a focus back on music as a tenet of Apple's ecosystem. And with music, comes the iPod.

The kids are alright

It's no coincidence that some sleuths have found new iPod images hidden in the latest version of iTunes. But while a new set of colors gold, darker blue and darker pink variants for each of the models might give sales at least a small shot in the arm, Apple Music presents an opportunity to truly give the iPod a reboot. If the first-week enthusiasm is any indication, Apple has hit a high note with music fans, combining its trademark design with unique features like hand-curated playlists and a global radio station to deliver an entertainment system that's head and shoulders above its competitors.

But pairing it with the new iPods would open up Apple's new streaming service to a whole new demographic. No matter how many iPhones Apple sells each quarter, there are still large swaths of the population who don't buy them. And while Apple would have a hard time directly targeting all of them, there is one group that it can reach: kids. Or, more specifically, their parents.

Play it again

Based on most surveys, iPhone usage doesn't generally start until the teen years, but if someone were to track iPod sales, I suspect they skew to tweens and school-aged children. You could argue that Apple Music's most enticing feature is the $14.99 family plan, which allows up to six people to use the same account. And since Family Sharing has opened up iTunes accounts for kids under 13 (with restrictions, of course), the whole household can enjoy Apple Music for a very affordable price. Apple hasn't marketed the iPod as a fun, cool device since the days of the silhouette ads, but it might be able to pump up sales with a new campaign that positions the iPod as the ultimate Apple Music player.

The iPod line is very clearly delineated by features, and Apple doesn't need to shake things all that much to make each model more attractive. The iPod touch is already a perfect device for non-iPhone users, but it could certainly stand to be brought into the new generation. It's the only model Apple sells that is powered by the lagging A5 chip, and it wouldn't hurt to add LTE either, giving it true parity with the iPhone.


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