Lest we forget, there’s one more e-reading-related company whose name starts with “A” that is about to make major product announcements in the next week or so. Apple’s iPhone and iPod show is coming up, and rumor has it that Apple will be killing off the iPod Classic and Shuffle lines altogether this year.

Ars Technica looks at the rumor and finds the reasoning behind it sound. Thanks to the emergence of cloud-based services, there is no longer as much need to carry a 160GB hard drive full of music around in your pocket.

When you have an iPod touch and a Spotify Premium account, for example, you suddenly have access to more music than what would fit onto that 160GB hard drive in the first place. And with the pending rollout of iCloud, any iTunes purchase you make can show up on your iOS device without your having to plug in and sync every time. Simply put, the iPod classic can only compete with its newer iPod siblings on storage space and virtually nothing else, and even that is becoming a less important element to music players over time.

Given that Amazon played the no-plug-ins-required card in its launch of the Fire, it is more and more clear what direction these things are moving. (Indeed, I’ve been listening to Pandora on my PC as I write this—but I’m as likely to listen to it on my iPod Touch instead if I’m doing something like laundry where I’d be moving around a lot but still staying within the wifi zone.)

What does this mean for e-reading? Well, for one thing, it means that the “default” iPod will be the iPod Touch from now on (though you could argue on a sales basis that it already has been for the last couple of years), which is a device capable of displaying e-books and displaying them very well.

I often think that tablets and larger e-readers come in for a disproportionate share of attention on the e-reading front. After all, you might read a book-sized e-reader in your easy chair in the evening, but you might read from something small enough to fit in your pocket at any spare moment wherever you are. And people tend to have more spare moments than they do easy chair time. The Kindle and Nook might be winning readers’ hearts and minds, but the Kindle and Nook apps on an iPod Touch or iPhone might, more importantly, win their pockets.

In fact, it’s easy to forget that before and even in the early days of the Kindle, the iPhone (and iPod Touch) was the hottest new e-reading gizmo on the block. Even Forbes took notice. Just because the Kindle subsequently kicked in the afterburners and took off like a rocket doesn’t mean that the iPod Touch form factor can be counted out of the running.

And with every new iPod an iPod Touch (except for the few that are iPod Nanos, of course), there are still plenty of opportunities to get people into e-reading who wouldn’t think of buying a Kindle. Even if Apple’s walled-garden approach to in-app purchases is grating, at least the company didn’t shut e-reading out altogether.


  1. I keep the Kindle app, iBooks, and the Kobo app synced between my iPad and my iPod Touch, and i can confirm that the Touch gets a serious workout as an e-reader in the “spare moments”. I keep thinking i should get a Kindle (and probably will when the new line rolls out), but i suspect the Touch will always be the go-to gadget when i’m away from home.

    I remember well the initial buzz that surrounded the Touch as an ebook platform, and it seems fairly obvious in hindsight that Amazon’s advantage with the Kindle was the platform and the store. If Apple had been forward thinking enough to have launched iBooks with the Touch four years ago, i wonder what the ebook market might look like today?

  2. too many clouds out there – my Amazon purchases go to their cloud, my iTunes purchases go to Apple’s cloud… no thanks. I’ll keep everything backed up on my computer – for as long as they’ll let me. closed ecosystems give me an itch.

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