Whenever stock of an Apple product begins to dwindle online and in retail stores, you can expect Apple to either update it, or cancel the line completely. If you want to get an iPod Shuffle, you may have found that it’s not as easy as it used to be. Shipping estimates are slipping on Apple’s online store, and retail chains are reporting low stock. They’re being instructed to tell customers to order Apple’s smallest iPod online. While some are expecting the iPod Shuffle to go the way of the iPod Classic, I think something different is in order. I think Apple could be preparing to brand the iPod Shuffle as a new device. I believe the next iPod Shuffle will be a fitness tracker, and that’s not as crazy as it may seem.
The iPod Shuffle is already popular with athletes, who can clip their iPods to their clothing and go work out. Some companies even sell iPod Shuffles that have been waterproofed for athletes getting their workout in the pool or beach. Some people still carry their iPhone while they work out, specifically to track their workout with apps like RunKeeper. The Shuffle can be clipped to sleeves, a wrist band, pockets, shorts, anything. It’s perfect for tracking the movement of the person wearing it. If one little device could be both a music player and a fitness tracker, Apple would be able to put many fitness devices out of business. Make it cheap, and it could be the introduction to the Apple brand many people need.
There’s another item to consider, and that’s Apple’s culture and CEO. First, Apple’s has been pushing its way into the fitness market, with Healthkit in iOS 8, the motion coprosessor in iPhones, and the upcoming Apple Watch. Secondly, and few people realize this, but Tim Cook is a fitness nut. He’s 54 and I guarantee he’s in better shape than most Americans. The guy will think of fitness applications for devices before most other people would, and as such, when it comes to the iPod Shuffle, a device many athletes use while working out, he’s naturally going to think, “Why coudn’t this be a fitness tracker?”.
So heres a basic use case. A runner is about to go for a run. Before she heads out, she grabs her iPod Shuffle, plugs in her headphones, and clips it to her shorts. She goes for her run, comes back home, and takes the iPod Shuffle off. Bluetooth LE in the Shuffle syncs it with her iOS device or Mac automatically, updating her fitness profile in the Health app on her iPhone. She can even upload her run to Runkeeper automatically. Worst case scenario, if she doesn’t have an iOS device, she can simply upload the stats to her computer through iTunes. Whereas before, she had no need for both an iPod Shuffle and an iPhone, now she does. Apple not only has a great product here, they have a new way to sell the iPod Shuffle (a device with a fantastic margin and profits) to customers that had no need for it before.
I have no inside sources here, just a strong hunch. Why wouldn’t Apple make the iPod Shuffle a fitness tracking device? This makes so much sense, I’m actually surprised I haven’t heard it before. Now, Apple could stil simply discontinue the iPod Shuffle, but I hope they do something smarter with it and sell it as an inexpensive fitness tracker, one that lacks the capabilities of the Apple Watch, but still has a basic use of its own. Apple already killed one iPod this year, let’s not make it two.