Who Even Uses MP3 Players Anymore?

I’ve had people I work with ask me this or utter similar things in my presence a lot lately. Perhaps because I keep pushing the issue. Or perhaps I just notice it more given my feelings on such things of late. It happened again today and spurred me into blogging mode. Because I started to wonder: who does use MP3 players these days?

I see people on the subway using them all the time. Not just iPods, either, though of course they dominate. I still use a dedicated player, myself, though I use a phone for podcasts. I have been assuming that mostly it’s these kinds of folks:

  1. People who can’t afford a smart phone.
  2. People who don’t want a smart phone.
  3. Kids whose parents don’t want to give them something expensive they’ll break or lose.
  4. People who just want devices that do one thing and do it well, not five things that the device isn’t terribly good at.

I feel like this encompasses a large number of people, but again I am assuming. So I’m taking an informal poll. An anecdotal census, as it were. Who out there still uses an MP3 player? Why do you still have/want one? If you’re a parent, would you give your child or tween an MP3 player or just go right for the smart phone?

Feel free to tell me that I’m completely bonkers and no one buys these things anymore unless they’re iPod Touches.

  • James Davis Nicoll

    I tried using an iPhone once and soon discovered I lacked the manual dexterity needed.

  • Ellen

    I still use an mp3 player (and it’s not an iPod). I can’t afford and am not interested in a smart phone.

  • Ginger

    My ex has an older ipod because she doesn’t want a device with a lot of things on it, just a dedicated or semi-dedicated device. Our son has an mp3 player because it was cheaper and his grandparents wanted to get him a music player. I have an ipod touch because I needed to replace a PDA and this was the closest I could find to my ideal device. It’s not a phone; I have one of those, without any other capability.

  • Shira

    I use an iPod touch, but use the music functionality more than anything else. My daughter has an iPod Nano and has no desire for anything fancier, or for a smartphone; she barely uses the phone she has.

  • Mer Haskell

    Me: 1,2,4 — well, I can AFFORD a smartphone, but it doesn’t seem a useful allocation for my budget, when I have so little need for it. 2 informs 1 in this case.

    My stepdaughter, age 15: 1,3

    My mom, age 56: 1,2 — LOVES her iPod. LOVES having a phone. CANNOT contemplate why one would combine them.

    My husband–has a smart phone.

  • I have an ipod not-touch that lives full-time in my car, where I spend 2.5 hours per day. Having an mp3 player that I can control while driving (ie without looking at very much) is super important.

    I definitely prefer devices that do one thing well, but I am fortunate to be able to afford multiple devices. If I had to choose just one or two devices and all-in-one phone/texting thingy with MP3 capability would be fine.

    • I have an old one in my car as well. The battery’s shot and the screen’s a little wonky, but since I’m controlling it through the dashboard stereo, I don’t care.

      I also have a Shuffle for working out, but since I discovered I could prop up my iPad on the treadmill’s ledge and watch TV shows while jogging, the Shuffle hasn’t seen much use.

  • I’m still using a way old-school iPod with the wheel dohickey–it’s not even a Touch. My phone is three years old, which makes it an antique, but it still does what I need it to do and so I haven’t upgraded it. My husband gave me an iPad a couple of months ago. I don’t really use it for music; it’s too big, really. (I do use it as an eReader, among other things.)

    My approach to tech toys in general is that if what I have works well enough, I’m not really going to bother going out and getting something else. This is balanced by being married to someone who likes to buy me gadgets, but even my laptop is a couple years old at this point. (And come to think of it, he’s still using a separate mp3 player too. I think it’s a Touch though.)

  • I am your number 4. I acquired my first iPod just recently (having previously had an iRiver) — not a touch, a straight-up 160GB iPod, because it’s the only device I could find that would hold all my music on it at the same time, and have all the functionality I expect of a decent music player.

    Similarly, I have no interest in an eReader with an internet connection, or iPad-like other capabilities, so I have a basic Sony Reader, which I get on with very well. (Although the PDF handling could be better.)

  • My smartphone fails to have a 60Gb card in it. If it did, I’d probably use it, but I’m not sure how it’d work with the battery life of the phone already being pretty crappy.

  • I have an iPod touch, as I can’t afford the contract and cost of an iPhone, but buying a dedicated MP3 player doesn’t seem entirely unrealistic to me overall even if I could afford one. But then again, I also have a weird anti-phone mindset overall.

    The only reason I would get an iPhone would be to have Internet access without wireless, really.

  • Velma

    I have an MP3 player, for reasons one, two, and four. I like separate devices, so that if one breaks down/goes missing, I don’t lose everything I have.

  • I use a Shuffle because I like small cute things.

  • veejane

    I have an MP3 player because it still works! It was a cheap knockoff of an iPod lo these 4-5 years ago when I bought it.

    In related news, my cell phone is 7 years old. It tells other cell phones to get offa its lawn.

    I’m not sure I’m 100% behind the all-in-one phenomenon — as crap as I am about remembering batteries/chargers, that seems like a bad idea — but even if I were, I can’t go replacing things that still work perfectly well.

    (Knock wood.)

  • Brian Dolton

    Some of us live in parts of the US where any cellphone coverage is patchy, let alone 3G, so what would be the point in me getting an expensive phone with loads of expensive (in contract terms) web-related features?

    So I have a phone that acts as a phone, and I have a fairly old iPod that still works as a music player, and have seen no particular need to merge these devices or others.

    The device integration that makes much more sense than phone-and-music-player, for me, would be phone-and-appliance-control. If my phone could adjust the central heating in winter, turn the oven on or off remotely, switch on the dishwasher, and tell me what was in the fridge so I could shop for things I needed, that would be helpful. But since most tech is aimed at the young, not the practical homeowner, such things are far behind the times.

  • I love my Sansa Clip. It’s small (actually tiny) and it holds all my music and podcasts with ease 8GB. And if I lose it, I don’t sweat it ‘cus it only cost me about $35.

  • I loved my Zune for three years until I dropped it one time too many and broke the screen.

    I’m MP3-player-less just because I can’t afford to get another Zune, and I don’t want to buy something cheaper.

    I don’t want a smart phone because I almost never use my phone anyway.

  • Barbara Krasnoff

    I used MP3 players until late last year, when I finally broke down and bought a smartphone — a Droid. Now I use that pretty much all the time.

  • affreca

    I’m somewhere between 1 and 2. I bought an iPod touch this spring, but still use my old MP3 player because it is cheap and has a radio. My car radio also plays MP3s off of CDs, thump drives or SD chips.

    I owned a cell phone that played MP3s back in 2002. It was by no means a smart phone, and was the basic phone offered for free with the contract. I’ve since lost it and changed carriers.

  • I have an iPod, and I still will after I get a smart phone some day. They carry more music than a phone (from what my colleagues with smart phones tell me), and I’d rather not use up the charge on my phone by listening to music on it. Plus, as a belly dancer, I carry music on it to performances, and I’d really rather not hand my phone over to a DJ.

    And for the record, one of my coworkers who has an iPhone also has three iPods that she uses regularly. She hasn’t stored a lick of music in the iPhone.

  • zillah975

    I use MP3 players partly because I just want devices that do one thing and do it well, not five things that the device isn’t terribly good at.

    But also, I can’t be bothered to sort out how I would use a phone both the way I use my phone (single-ear Bluetooth headset in the car, non-handsfree everywhere else) and the way I use my MP3 player (plugged into the MP3 jack in the car, regular headset or earbuds when not driving). Also, I hate using a regular headset on phone calls; I just want the single-ear headset for those. There’s something really weird about hearing a phone call the same way I hear a movie or something. So partly it’s a question of fitness to purpose — smartphones don’t work the way I want my music player to work.

  • I have an iPod classic because it was, at the time I bought it, the player with the largest amount of storage I could afford. I’m not interested in an integrated device for reasons 2 & 4. I actually bought one of the first iPods (with buttons above the click wheel!–I still have it, though it lives in its speaker platform full time now) because I wanted to have all of my music available, and that hasn’t changed. I’m always surprised at what people will pay for devices that have a fraction of the storage space.

  • Chris

    I use a dedicated mp3 player.

    1) I don’t own, nor do I want to pay for a cell phone
    2) I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket- I prefer to have a separate device so if one thing goes down, the other is still functional (or, if stolen, etc.)

    I’m especially wary after an iPod update bricked my iPod Shuffle…

  • I use an iPod. Reason #4.

  • The battery on my two-generation-old iPod nano lasts so long I’ve never run it down. The battery on my crap-ass WinCE “smartphone” runs out every time you turn your back on it. Single-purpose device FTW.

  • I have a three year old iPod. I live in an area that doesn’t get the kind of cell reception necessary for a smart phone. I also don’t want to spend seventy bucks a month on cell service. I love my old iPod. I use it alot. I got it free with my macbook.

    so there’s a datapoint for you. :)

  • I use an iPod. Put me in the “I cannot afford a SmartPhone” category, can’t I can’t — but even if I could I’d want a nice little iPod for working out, etc. Phones are too big and clunky and I listen to podcasts while I’m working out.

  • I still use an MP3 player (iPod) even though I also own an iPhone.

    Even though I’m a huge fan of one single unified device, what happened was, when I bought my iPhone, I enthusiastically transferred all the music onto it, used it for a day… and switched back to the iPod immediately.
    So now I carry both of them.
    The reason is simple: the iPod has drastically better interface. I can use the iPod with one hand, while it’s clipped to my belt, while driving or running, whereas to stop/start/skip/change volume on the iPhone takes attention and two hands, and many more clicks.
    I was surprised just how clunky the music player app turned out to be, on the iPhone.

  • Jonquil

    My husband has a Droid as his phone. Music and video playback require major contortions. Therefore he uses his iPod Touch (a gift) when he wants to watch movies or listen to music. (In fact, he uses it to listen to Internet radio most nights in bed.)

  • maevele

    My phone is a phone, my mp3 player is an mp3 player, my computer is everything else. I’m poor, cheap, and simple

  • Jess

    I don’t really want a smartphone, partly because I hate touch-screen stuff, partly because I don’t want to pay for a data plan, and partly because they’re mostly inconveniently large. I don’t have a purse and don’t want one and I like things I can cram into my pockets.

    So I have a netbook (for when I have my backpack) and a tiny cell phone and a tiny mp3 player (Sansa Clip). My mp3 player is cheap and it doesn’t break when I drop it or fall on it while I’m rollerblading and it doesn’t have a touch screen. I love it.

  • Put me in both the “can’t afford a smartphone” category, and the “doesn’t buy new devices unless she needs to, which means that she’ll use her old devices into the ground first” category, if that counts. I have an old iPod that still works, and as long as it continues to work, I’ll continue to use it.

  • Diana

    I use an iPod nano that’s two years old and still works great. I’m perfectly happy using it just to listen to music. Why? It still works great. I have no desire for a smart phone, and I certainly can’t afford one even if I did.

  • Kit R

    My MP3 player is small, light, it hangs around my neck when I go walking. I got it for twenty bucks, so if I break it or lose it, I’m not out a whole lot of money. I’ve had it for 3 or 4 years; longer than any phone I’ve had has lasted.

    I have a bottom-of-the-line flip phone that I also don’t have to worry too much about. It rides around in my pocket, where something larger and flatter would be at risk for getting snapped. Also, I don’t have to worry about butt-dialing.

    While having one device that does everything is appealing from an “ooh, shiny” standpoint, having a device that does exactly what I need it to is a lot more efficient.

  • Ann Leckie

    Can’t afford a smartphone. I did just recently get a phone that could also play mp3s, and it’s smart enough to let me go on the net and read email but not smart enough that I can download the app that lets me listen to Rhapsody.

    I’m still getting used to the new phone, and I’m not sure I’d know how to answer a call while listening. And meanwhile, I’ve got my little Sansa Fuze, which does everything I want it to do with controls that are intuitive to me, plus it’s tiny enough that I can work out with it strapped to my arm, which my phone isn’t quite. Mostly I use the Fuze when I’m driving, with it plugged into the aux jack, or when I’m walking or exercising.

    I might experiment with music on my phone sometime, though, just to see.

  • I still use my ipod classic, as it still works, and I just don’t need a smartphone right now. When the ipod finally dies (it’s about 5 years old), it’ll probably get replaced with an ipod touch, unless I find myself more interested in a smartphone.

  • I still use my iPod, and I also have an iPhone. I just don’t want to take up all the space on my phone with music, when I already have a thing that does that. Plus I want to be able to listen to music *and* dick around on my phone, and yes, my iPhone multi-tasks, but I just don’t want to do it that way. *shrug*

    For further data, I’ve had my iPod (3rd or 5th gen Classic, 160G) for about three years. When we reserved our iPhones, Stefan bought himself the latest version of my same iPod, because he wanted a separate music thing too. And because he’s planning to put three VERY LARGE databases on his phone, and he’s already filled 34G of his iPod, in the three weeks he’s had it.

  • Sarah

    I have a smartphone and an iPod. I keep the iPod around because it has far more battery life and storage capacity than my phone. It syncs with iTunes without a fuss. I also don’t want anyone at work to think that I’m texting when I’m trying to listen to music.

  • Deanne

    I’m with the group that prefers my small & light MP3 player in my pocket, rather than the (comparatively) clunky phone.

  • Lori S.

    I still use an mp3 player. I cannot afford a smart phone, and I’m not sure I want one either at this stage in their development.

  • I am in your categories 2 and 4. I have an iPod click-wheel that I use every day. I have a no-contract cell phone plan that costs me less than $8 per month. My cell phone doesn’t store MP3s and doesn’t have useful Internet access.

    Do I want a smart phone? I occasionally regret that I can’t look something up on the Internet right this second, but I don’t even begin to regret it $60 a month worth or whatever an iPhone plan costs.

  • Gabrielestrada48

    i have a mp3 player and would still be using it but for some reason my new computer cant put music in the mp3 player. So for now i am using a used ipod that my dad gave me. Although it took me a month or so to make it work. But i would like to use the mp3 player if it was my choice.

  • AsDf

    4) in my case. I know I’m late as hell, but Google sent me here today.

  • Jeffrey W. Kinney

    I prefer an mp3 player for a number of reasons:

    1) I don’t like using up my phone battery on music.
    2) I treat mp3 players very rough, I run in the rain, they get sweat soaked when I work out, and I don’t want my very expensive smart phone to be exposed to all of these factors.
    3) A smart phone is awkwardly large when exercising.