Vintage Ipods Have Value?

This old Ipod. Is it about liking vintage or something more?

Eight different Ipod nano devices, from different type periods. Picture is from Ebay. Do these vintage ipods have value?
Do Vintage Ipods Have Value? Image: Ebay

Dear Ms. Smartphone: When my husband heard last week that Apple was discontinuing the Ipod he went out and bought 2 more of them. When I asked why he needed more Ipods he was sort of vague. He said he wanted them for parts, and etcetera. It’s the etcetera that I do not understand. Do vintage ipods have value? Zoe, Mill Valley

Dear Zoe: You didn’t mention whether your husband still uses the Ipods to play music and video games or whether he is betting that the prices will increase as the devices become scarce! But you have to respect his love affair with this device. Perhaps it’s the remembrance of those dancing silhouettes! In many ways, not just financial ones, these vintage ipods have value.

Beware… Swiss Army Knives

Like your husband, I see a need for these devices, or similar ones. Today’s  smartphones are  Swiss Army Knives and that’s all good, until it is not (for example, taking them on airplanes)! Phone features range from picture-taking to the digital measuring tape. That’s useful, particularly if you have small pockets but we all need a degree of separation. For young kids getting online I advocate a provisional phone- one that has stripped down features so that they do not spend excess time on it and shun other activities. As for adults, it’s still a good idea to keep a flashlight in your car, a notebook by your bed table, and a clip-on pedometer for exercise. 

If you don’t seek out this degree of separation, you will not be able to turn your phone off, literally.  It’s now a  throwback to watch a yoga routine or listen to an album without extra technology. Or, take a long hike. The presence of a phone is a constant reminder that we are interruptible.  

Valued Past…

But, here is the etcetera. For your husband, it might be an appreciation for  Apple  technology and how far it has come. Steve Jobs wanted the Ipod, which he introduced in 2001, to propel his company in two ways. He needed to sell computers. Microsoft had a 90 percent market share but they did not have music.  Customers wanted a MacIntosh computer to browse the music library, create a playlist and transfer songs. Meanwhile, Apple was already working on the smartphone, and the architecture for it evolved from the polished, well packaged,  pocket-sized IPod. 

If your husband is collecting Ipods because he is sentimental about the technology, there are fans that plan to keep the technology alive and move it one-step further. They swap out the hard drives and use a Sim card to load more music. And, yes, vintage Ipods are collectibles. As of today, there were several posted on Ebay in the four to five hundred dollar range, and one brand new 5GB first generation model with a $23,000 sticker!

More Value Propositions…

But, if your husband is either a lawyer, or a musician, perhaps there is a different reason for his collection. The Ipod upended the music industry, much as the Beatles upended 60’s music.  When the Ipod began subscribers could download a single song for 99 cents, or they could copy it from elsewhere. The commercial slogan approved by Steve Jobs “Rip, Mix, Burn” –seemed to endorse the free, pirating of music. What personally struck me is how the iPod changed music connoisseurship, in the name of portability. Before the device, afficiendos preferred the expansive, refined sound-quality of hand-hone speakers, not  small, tinny ones.

Today, music fans might listen over Apple’s smart speakers. And, many subscribe to a subscription service, like Spotify, instead of buying individual tracks from the Apple store.  On the road, they use the smartphone, linking it to Apple CarPlay. The music has changed but it has not stopped.  Perhaps the et cetera you mention is indeed that vintage Ipods have $$ value. Or, it might be nostalgia for how we used to download our playlists, an appreciation for functional purity, as well as the bet that this tiny device is a big collectible.

Emergency Alerts on Phone: Nixle

An image from the App store with the official download site for Nixle. What are emergency alerts on the phone from Nixle? Carefully read the app reviews.
Emergency Alerts on Phone: Nixle

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am going with my Mom next week to a local class for emergency and disaster planning. I thought I would get ahead of it by downloading some apps for our phones. She lives in a dry area of Sonoma that was badly hit in two fires. I would like to get emergency alerts on my phone in case she does not have a strong signal out there and has to evacuate. Doria, W. Marin

Dear Doria: You are to be congratulated for being so proactive. It’s great to take that class with Mom and plan ahead for those emergency alerts on your phone. I hope these alerts will stay in the background and you won’t need to use them.

I ran your question by my local police and fire departments and they had a few suggestions for apps you could download. They recommend that you begin with your county’s official website, and within it, search for ” emergency preparedness.” There can be an information overload there so be prepared to scroll around until you get to the section to sign up for alerts. In your upcoming class they will probably remind you that it’s vital that you enter your credentials  now so that your name and number are active.

The Sonoma gov web site recommends a primary app, SoCoAlert, and also a secondary one called Nixle. By the way,  all counties rely on more than the Internet or apps  for notifications. There’s the old fashioned, but effective,  siren or bull horn. There are also emergency broadcast radio stations to tune into.  These are not old fashioned at all. You need them in case the cell towers are knocked out and you can’t use your phone. Which reminds me, make sure your Mom’s backup phone is a landline, not a VOIP phone.

NixLE the App:

Public agencies, especially fire departments, are now recommending the Nixle app for community wide notifications and messaging. But full disclosure: DearSmartphone did not download the app after she learned so much from reading the reviews.

The app goes under the names Nixle and Everbridge. The names are interchanged on occasion. Nexbridge (!), has the advantage that you can be tracked in two or more zip codes- say where you live, and your Mom’s place. They also said they do not sell your data, that’s a plus.

That said, the reviews for this app, on a five point scale, were but ‘2.1’. Equally offsetting was the positioning of Everbridge on the App store. As you can see from the image, the app store classified it as a ‘lifetsyle’ download and sandwiched it between a Beauty App for hair color, and an Everbridge spin-off for corporate messaging.

Here’s the description on the app page: “ Nixle works in partnership with thousands of public safety agencies. Everbridge offers the most trust information available at a neighborhood level to keep residents informed- all delivery directly to your mobile device. Messages range from emergencies and crime advisories to important announcements, reminders, and community updates.”

State of Emergency:

Reading further, I learned that important announcements can include work place violence, active shooters, terrorism, IT and power outages, environmental discharges, critical equipment failures, medical emergencies, and social media attacks. 

In the app reviews, users  said that they had difficulty turning off the notifications for these myriad alerts.Some  got pinged during the night for emergencies that were hundreds of miles away. Others complained that when there was a need, specifically a fire warning, they did not get pinged at all. The app stayed tragically silent but the ‘gov’ one worked. They are probably pulling down information from the same central dispatch.

A Battery of concern:

 A further concern users expressed, my biggest worry for your Mom, is that the app stays open with  the GPS turned on, so that it sends out those real time notifications. That might drain the battery and defeat the emergency planning. If you rely on your phone for directions when you evacuate and also expect calls and messages, it’s essential that you have a device that is fully charged. It’s a good time to add an auxiliary battery extender, fully charged, to the emergency planning kit. 

Perhaps the class you attend will offer a different take on the Nixle app, and a link specifically for fire conditions.  if so, please update me. Just keep in mind that if you do choose to download the app,  then show the controls to your Mom so that she understands them and does not get confused.

No Screen Time Until Two?

A young baby looking at at Ipad (stock photo)

Dear Ms. Smartphone: My oldest sister had a baby boy eight years ago and her baby doctor told her no screen time until two years of age. I had a girl last year, and was surprised when the same doctor (we both go to her) said that the guidelines had changed. Her professional society is saying it is OK now for younger babies to have screen time. My sister and I compared notes and wonder why they changed because babies are babies. Sydney, Weston

Dear Sydney:  You are lucky that your pediatrician took the time to talk about media time with you. I once read that just fifteen percent of parents said that their pediatrician discuss media use yet Pew polling in 2020 finds that 61% of parents say they depend on doctors for screen advice!  The professional society you are referring to is the American Academy of Pediatricians (APA).  They have a long history of trying to explore the role of screen time, publishing research, and  tinkering with the recommendations.

The 2016 guidelines suggested that children under 18 months stay unplugged. Prior to that they recommended no screen time until age 2.

18 and under.

There is a long form that accompanies  the 2016 APA reset- that’s what your pediatrician was referencing. The Academy recommends that parents stay involved with their children’s media use and set boundaries, that they carefully select content, and encourage co-watching. If the APA lowered the age, then they upped the stakes for parental involvement. There was one exception: the 2016 guidelines  said it was OK for kids under 18 months to engage in video chatting. Presumably that was for keeping up with long distance grandparents and family, or, cynically,  did they anticipate the burgeoning growth of pediatric visits  and  telemedicine?

Of course, children have not changed in the past eight years, nor do they grow up faster- so why did the APA  change? I will try to update this when I have more direct knowledge and interviews. The best I can tell is that the Academy needed to keep pace with modern trends.  Parents wanted guidance, and the professionals recognized that they did not have  a robust body of research on the effects of new digital media. Between 2000 and 2016 there was a proliferation of technology.Streaming media opened viewing up 24/7 and released the content from FCC oversight. 

Head Starts:

Not surprisingly, time spent in front of screens exploded for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers over the same time period. Today, ninety percent of young children use a handheld electronic device by the age of one, and in some cases, when they are only a few months old. A British study in 2017 found that 10% of children ages 3-4 had their own tablet and 53% of these were online, for nearly 9 hours a week. During covid these rates skyrocketed as preschools closed and more parents worked from home.

So, to address your question, the APA wanted to keep up with the trends and stay relevant to parents. If you and your sister  want help sorting out the digital guidelines you can go to Commonsense Media. This parent centric site reviews content options, summarize the state-of-the-research., and more.

By the way, the APA guidelines do not say ‘No’ to  media and TV-  they simply discourage its use. Surprisingly, the concerns are less about content and more often about the time that watching TV or screens displaces.  Keep in mind that for every hour of television that a child younger than 2 years watches alone, he or she will spend an additional 60 minutes less time per day interacting with a parent or sibling, and engaging in other types of play. The issue is that television displaces more developmentally valuable activities that stimulate cognitive growth and motor skills. Research continues to find correlation (not causality) between early television viewing and developmental problems. BTW, many families have the TV on at least six hours a day as background noise- that counts too!