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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.

The iPod nano and shuffle have always been music-centric, but a tight tie-in with Apple Music could bring them back to their get-up-and-go roots. If Apple could fit the nano with a 4G chip strictly for music streaming (much like Amazon does with its Kindle e-readers), it could be an always-on gadget that puts not thousands of songs in your pocket, but tens of millions.

We got the Beats

While the streaming service was clearly the main motivation behind Apple Beats purchase, there's a whole other aspect of the company Apple owns, too. And while the Solo and Studio headphones are the source of much ire among audiophiles, they consistently rank among the top-selling models for both iPhone and Android users.

So while I don't think we'll be seeing an Apple logo replacing the trademark "b" on the ear cups anytime soon, I could see Apple making a special Beats+iPod model that integrates an iPod shuffle into the body of the headphones. With built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, Apple could eliminate the need to carry any other devices on your run, seamlessly syncing your latest playlists without even needing to fumble with dragging and dropping from iTunes.

It could be a major selling point once the Android app lands. Without the benefits of Siri and the iOS ecosystem behind it, the Android version of Apple Music won't add much more than Spotify or Rdio doesn't already offer. And when you factor in the staunch anti-Apple sentiment, breaking through won't exactly be easy. Apple Music may be one of the best streaming services around, but it's still hard to see many Android users switching to iPhone because of it.

But the backing of Beats could help in that regard. Apple Music may be built on the foundation of Beats Music, but aside from the radio station, there isn't anything within the app that ties it to Dr. Dre's iconic brand. A special-edition version of the headphones that integrate directly with Apple Music would go a long way toward soothing some of the hard feelings Samsung and Motorola users have toward the iPhone and Apple in general.

Do the evolution

Music has always been integral to Apple's mission. A large part of why the iPod was such a spectacular success was that it was a labor of love. Steve Jobs wanted an elegant, modern way to travel with his digital music collection, and his vision helped craft an original, unique device that can be traced to nearly every product we hold dear today.

Apple Music might not be as revolutionary, but it marks a conscious return to the company's focus on music. People will argue that Apple is playing catch-up with its streaming service and perhaps it is but using Apple Music doesn't feel like a me-too product. From Beats 1 to the carefully crafted playlists and aggressive family pricing, it's clear that Apple has taken pride and care in developing Apple Music, and going forward, it looks to become a major component of its ever-expanding ecosystem.

And it sure would be fun if Apple took the iPod for one last ride on the tour bus.


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