Does anyone buy iPods any more? #iTax

The escalators in Old Street tube station are wallpapered with iPod adverts, and I could not stop myself wondering why? And then I thought: why am I asking why?

It used to be that iPods were a form of currency in the tech community – the default desirable prize for any geek competition – but now I have a phone, I have a tablet, I have Spotify, I have direct music purchases from several musicians.  I find it hard to conceive that anyone with an iPod has not actually just bought an iPhone instead.

Perhaps this is my problem.

So this morning I discovered:

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 10.32.38

Copying CDs to iPods to become legal under copyright law shake-up

It’s a law many of us have been breaking for years – but now music fans can copy CDs to iPods and laptops without being treated as criminals.

Ministers are shaking up copyright laws to allow users to copy material to devices such as eBooks, tablets and phones for their own use, but it will still be illegal to give copies to other people.

Controversially, the government ruled out imposing an iTax on all music storage devices, a levy imposed across Europe.

It puts Britain at loggerheads with Brussels, which wants to charge users for copying – or format-shifting – music files.

For example, in France, a 64GB iPod is hit with an iTax of £12.20.

…and atop the other feelings described above I can’t raise more than the following observations:

  • The French are crazy.
  • The horse has not merely bolted but the stable has also burned down, and they’re still trying to tax the blacksmith.
  • What’s a CD? I think I remember them, I stored them somewhere and forgot.

Maybe for once the UK has realised that adding taxes might just kill off the vestiges of a dying market niche and thereby annoy a major (potential?) taxpayer?


8 Replies to “Does anyone buy iPods any more? #iTax”

  1. ps: reason to have an iPod: you don’t want your phone smashed or nicked at the gym / similar. That’s about it, I think.

  2. Size I think is about the only reason to have a dedicated music player. Both physical and storage.

    My first MP3 player was the size of a pack of cards and held a whopping 128MB.
    Then I moved to a CD player which held MP3s.
    Then to a RockBox with a 20GB HDD.

    Most phones now come with 8GB. You can stick a 32GB card in there – but that’s still smaller than the largest iPod.

    But, yeah, carrying a dedicated music player makes about as much sense as having a dedicated GPS or Camera.

  3. Gotta love the diversity within the EU. Copying CDs to your personal iPod has been legal in The Netherlands for as long as I can remember. The same goes for downloading media (music, movies, TV series) for personal use. Uploading of course is illegal, as is (according to recent count rulings) pointing others to where to legally download such media. In return, we do get taxed for buying blank cassette tapes, CDs and DVDs. So I order those in Germany, where they tax the DVD writers instead. There is some talk about also taxing external HDDs. mp3 players and smart phones., but this has not made it through parliament just yet. Today a proposal to rule media downloads illegal was voted down, so that new tax can’t be far away now though.

    The reason I still have and use an iPod: because I installed a 240GB HDD in it. Can’t quite do that in an iPhone yet. I hate deciding which music to bring on a trip. but now that my iPod is full I stuck again. Using Spotify or iTunes iCloud/Match is not an option because of the crazy prices for cellular data use here, not to mention roaming data prices.

  4. The iPod touch has a role as a starter device for children and teenagers whose parents do not want to give them an iPhone, with its need of a contract. They make good christmas presents – hence the advertising now.

    The littler iPods – the shuffle and nano – are popular with people to take to the gym. They are hard to break, and are light and can be strapped to an arm as you exercise.

    It is impressive how the iconic consumer electronics device of the first seven years or so of the 2000s – so iconic that Steven Levy actually wrote a book about it called “The Perfect Thing” – is now so obscure that you will require some work to find one in an Apple Store. Part of the story is that Apple is not frightened to supersede its own products. Part of the story is that things move on fast these days.

    I do recall around 2006 or 2007 or so, people from then prominent mobile phone companies (Oh, who am I kidding? People from Nokia) being contemptuous and dismissive of Apple’s iPod products, however. Of course, we were all going to have music players (and video players, and other functions) built into our mobile phones before very long, and Nokia was completely dominant there and Apple would become less significant. Of course, they were entirely right about the first half of the sentence.

  5. Of course, there is a fair chance that the children and teens who have been given iPod touches until now are going to want iPad minis instead this year. There isn’t much price difference, so it may be that this market for iPods is going away too.

  6. >But, yeah, carrying a dedicated music
    >player makes about as much sense as
    >having a dedicated GPS or Camera.

    I can buy a £50 camera from Asda which will take much better photographs than the camera in any smartphone. Because smartphones are so thin, the optical components are tiny, and hence the focal length and aperture are tiny too. So the quality of smartphone cameras remain poor compared to actual stand along cameras.

    That’s two reasons – one being the picture quality and the other being the £50.

  7. Didn’t they decide *ages* ago that format-swapping was legal here? Also, there’s some kind of extra tax on blank media (it used to be cassette tapes – the ones which were “killing music”) but I think it’s been extended to recordable CDs and DVDs too, and there was talk of applying it to flash cards around the time the SD card was being developed.

    I have an iPod, which I quite like. It’s very much smaller than an iPhone. When combined in a pocket with my favourite dumb-phone, the two of ’em are still smaller than an iPhone, and the batteries last a shitload longer. And the iPod has a video camera and a couple of games, too.

    I really don’t want an iPhone. There again, I really don’t want an iPad, or a laptop with an iPad operating system, so I’m hardly Apple’s core target customer.

    If iPods are going out of fashion, perhaps they’d better re-think dumbing their computer OS out of the market?

    FWIW, I have a real camera, as well as the shitty one built into the iPod and the even shittier one in the dumbphone, because I like photography – an iPhone camera, good for what it is, is not really very capable as cameras go. You *can* take good pictures with it, like you *can* take good pictures with a box brownie, or a pinhole camera made from a tin, or a tricked-out photocopier, it’s just not where you start if you went looking for a tool specifically for photography. Similarly, the video camera on my iPod is marvelous in the sense that it’s marvelous one can squeeze any kind of video camera into such a small space, but it’s a gimmick, not a serious tool for shooting video, except mebbe a bit of covert surveillance or undercover type stuff where quality and image control don’t really matter.

    Similarly with CDs, records and suchlike “obsolete” tech. Limited though CD is (16bit samples at a sample rate only just the Nyquist rate for the oft-cited 20KHz upper end of (young) human hearing, meaning just a few samples/cycle at the upper end of the frequencie saudible even to my knackered old ears, also pretty much guaranteed mechanically-induced read errors and time-domain issues – despite all this, my Marantz CD63SE still sounds better than any iThing I’ve ever tried, even with lossless rips and the like. Mostly, I suspect, because decent filters and line amps don’t come cheap, small and low-powered enough for iThings just yet, though the gap has closed a lot.

    I’m such a luddite I even have paper books which work without batteries, a separate satnav, and a nice bright pocket torch which doesn’t make me choose between seeing in the dark or being able to phone for help or listen to music before the battery goes flat. And although I have a “leatherman” type tool, I also find uses for a variety of single-purpose saws, files, knives, pliers, scissors, screwdrivers etc.

  8. I was in the Apple Store at Covent Garden the other day, and the tables with the iPods were in prominent places at the front of the store, whereas during the rest of the year they are small and hiding near the back. So I think it is pretty clear that Apple do still sell a lot of them at Christmas.

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