Apple has quietly discontinued the iPod nano and iPod shuffle, its last two standalone portable music players. This leaves the iPod touch as the last iPod-branded device.
The move is hardly surprising. Apple doesn’t sell many iPods anymore — it stopped reporting the iPod as a separate business in 2014, the year it retired the iPod classic. And the iPod nano and shuffle, which don’t run iOS apps or connect to the internet, aren’t strategically important and haven’t received major updates in years.
Still, it’s worth remembering that the iPod nano played a big role in Apple’s resurgence under Steve Jobs.
When Jobs introduced the nano in September 2005 — famously, by pulling it out of his Levi’s tiny watch pocket — Apple was already in the habit of selling millions of iPods per quarter thanks to the original iPod and newer iPod mini.
But that 2005 holiday season, led by the nano, was the iPod’s breakout quarter, passing 10 million quarterly unit sales and $5 billion in quarterly iPod revenue for the first time.
Apple never specified iPod sales by model, but it seems clear that the nano drove much of its success. When Apple redesigned the device a year later, it called the nano the “world’s most popular digital music player.” For millions, it was their first Apple device, likely leading to many Mac, iPhone and iTunes purchases down the line.
(Also in 2006, when Microsoft unveiled its would-be iPod killer, the Zune, it looked particularly lame for copying the big, classic iPod instead of the best-selling nano.)
It wasn’t long before the iPod nano — and the iPod line in general — was overshadowed by the iPhone, which is what really drove Apple to become the world’s most valuable company. But the iPod still outsold the iPhone — in unit shipments, at least — during holiday quarters until 2011.
Here’s Jobs introducing the nano in 2005: