We live in an era where we are constantly dependent on technology. Like it or not, we are slaves to technology. The peculiar thing with technology while you’re always “connected” somehow you also feel extremely detached. You can read news about a tragedy in any part of the world but it gets replaced quickly by some other news of the day. There’s so much outrage — genuine and faux — in the world that you end up feeling extremely cold towards most things. Life and events are defined by hashtags and frankly there is little room for sentimentality – and I speak strictly in the digital sense. There are apps you love and can’t live without are suddenly binned when something new comes up. Even phones with which most of us share perhaps the most personal relationship are discarded at the drop of a hat. So, forgive me for being a bit sentimental – or rather nostalgic – today when the news of Apple discontinuing its iPod Nano and Shuffle devices broke. You see, the iPod Nano is, or rather was, a gadget but evoked a curious sense of companionship.
For someone who was a part of the “Walkman” generation, the iPod was truly a revelation. Fleetingly, the Discman came into our lives but due to various reasons it never ever made its mark. You never really connected with it like you did it first with the Walkman and then with the iPod. In fact, I have always wondered that the CD or compact disc became irrelevant without too much of a fuss. One day, they were stacked in cases and the next no one cared about their existence.
The iPod Nano, however, was a different story. It was the coolest gadget one had ever come across. It was stunning, cool, a technological marvel ahead of its time – all rolled into one. Most gadgets go through an evolution where you switch from brand to brand depending on technological advancements. For instance, if you are a gaming enthusiast, you perhaps started on Atari, moved to Samurai (yes, I am from that generation), shifted to Sega and then depending on your preference finally graduated to the Playstation or the Xbox. Similarly, with a television – we had black and white TV sets which were kept under a shutter, we moved to a colour TV (with or without a remote) and now it’s flat screen LED TV sets which are ruling the roost.
The Walkman was high on utility but it could be infuriating. The batteries were always running out, the headphones – cheap ones – would give terrible sound quality and the whole deal with audio cassettes had become cumbersome. After rewinding or forwarding songs multiple times, the tape invariably got stuck and ruined the mechanism.
The iPod – first the Shuffle and then the Nano – redefined and changed everything about listening to music on the go. The iPod wasn’t even the first digital music player but in true Apple style, the company refined it like no one else. If the Mini or the Shuffle made you get over the pains of Walkman, the iPod Nano made you swoon. To use a beautiful -it was beautiful – device which made listening to music so simple was simply unheard of. It was a pint-sized gadget but packed so many features which made it a must-have device. You either had an iPod Nano or you badly wanted it. The current generation perhaps would use a #somethinggoals to describe it.
Back in 2005 – when the iPod Nano was first launched – Apple wasn’t the behemoth it is today. It had started gathering a cult following but nowhere near to what it is now. Apple’s legions of fans actually began with the iPod Nano as it dazzled people all around the world with just the simplicity of its design and functionality. The best thing about it was that it stored thousands of songs – divided into playlists, artists, genres. It didn’t matter whether you were feeling anger or elation, you had a song for it at the click of a button. There are already In 2005, it genuinely was a big deal. You felt possessive because an iPod was extremely personal and every iPod in that sense was different – it told you about the musical sensibilities of people. The way the iPod lent a personal touch, no other device did.
I first had the iPod Shuffle – 512 MB one – which could store about 120 songs at a time. In those days, 512 MB was considered decent amount of storage. There were 1GB, 2GB and 4GB variants of the Shuffle available but as has been the case with Apple products they were expensive. The Shuffle was high on utility but was hardly a looker. The iPod Nano, however, changed all that. Of course, like now iTunes was never easy to use even then and after downloading music, it was pretty exhausting to load songs on the iPod. But once it was done, you forgot about all that and got totally immersed in the iPod.
Apple tried a lot of variations with the iPod Nano – some worked and some didn’t. It shrunk in size, the screen became bigger, there were a lot of iterations – yet it managed to intrigue as always. By 2009, when the fifth-generation Nano was launched, there was a camera added to the back. It was also around the same time when the iPhone was making its presence felt all over the world.Some might point out that the iPod in all its forms actually died a quiet death a few years back. For the last three years, the sales have been declining steadily. There is not even a dedicated tab for iPod anymore on the Apple site – it is hidden under the Music tab. The news of Apple discontinuing iPod Nano and Shuffle doesn’t come out of the blue. As Bob Dylan sang, “The answer, my friend, is
Some might point out that the iPod in all its forms actually died a quiet death a few years back. For the last three years, the sales have been declining steadily. There is not even a dedicated tab for iPod anymore on the Apple site – it is hidden under the Music tab. The news of Apple discontinuing iPod Nano and Shuffle doesn’t come out of the blue. As Bob Dylan sang, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind” – it was obvious for a while now that the iPod will be killed.
The thing with technology, as I mentioned is that it leaves no or little room for sentimentality. I haven’t used my iPod Nano for more than a year now but today I will take it out from the drawer where it is lying untouched along with my first iPod Shuffle and give it a listen. I think the iPod Nano deserves at least that for being a faithful, loyal and extremely dependent ally.