Are MP3 Players Becoming Obsolete?

Do you remember your first MP3 player?

I sure do. Mine was a Zen, by Creative Technologies Limited, who were once one of the great portable media player manufacturers on the planet. My device looked like the image below. I was crazy happy about this little (and at the time very expensive!) device, because it meant the end of interrupted songs due to bumpy bus rides faulty and anti-shock CD player technologies. It marked the end of my CD burning days- just imagine- the end of having only a crammed playlist of about 22 songs available at one time. Back then, if you’ll believe it, 512MB of space (fitting about 120 songs) was incredibly huge. My little device could hold more music than I could listen to in a single sitting, and was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.




Now you’d probably tell me that MP3 players are a thing of the past, practically obsolete. Smartphones are now the ultimate all-in-one device and most people use them as a general media player.
This only really became a reality for me when I needed a new device a few months ago. As usual, when my bashful habits with electronics has sadly thrown my portable player in a state of disrepair, I went to the store. I candidly skipped over to the MP3 Player section…only to find it filled with phone accessories. It seemed the little display was being phased out as the store barely felt the need to keep (albeit non Apple Inc. brand) players in stock. After making a floor associate search the store far and wide, a device that fit my fancy was actually found. I paid for it, and realized… it might actually be my last MP3 player.


A little history

MP3 Players were invented in the late 1990s and hit the market not long afterwards. Back then, the available data memory on the first ever Eiger Labs MPMan F10, was a mere 32MB. By 2000, 1G ‘cutting edge’ MP3 Players were available for about $1000 US. The use of portable devices wasn’t fully popularized until a few years later, when the common 256MB and 512MB became, for a very short while, the affordable norm. This meant you could carry up to 8 hours of playback with you- no more carrying CDs around. The changes to the music industry were swift; downloading and share-ripping became popular habits and physical music stores began their slow decline.



It hasn’t even been two decades since MP3 Players swept through, and are now practically archaic? Gone the way of the floppy disk, fax machines and the dodo bird? Do I still need mine?


The future seems annoying to me.

Like mentioned above, most have moved on to using only one device for most portable electronic purposes. My smartphone in the past has never actually had enough data storage space to fully satisfy me. I don’t know about you, but I use my headphones and player more like an oxygen tank than an entertainment machine. I have albums I don’t quite feel safe without, playlists for focused work, relaxation, working out, social situations, even dungeons and dragons’ campaigns. The now standard 16G of data storage is almost not enough. How will I survive in a world where only a leftover of space not taken by apps or images becomes my portable music? I don’t know if you’ve ever tried working out with a smartphone on your hip or in your pocket, but most models are big, bulky and heavy! Not ideal at all for when you want to move around and get sweaty.

How much longer will companies like Sony Corporation and SanDisk Corporation keep making players? How long will Apple Inc. keep making iPods?


Never fear, this story ends well.

While it is sad to see technologies become hallmarks of the past, even a little creepy when it happens so fast, progressions usually aim for efficacy and convenience. If you can afford unlimited data transfer plans, many don’t seem bother with MP3 format at all anymore and just stream their musical fancy while on the go. Some smartphones have also evolved to fulfill the purposes of portable players, as manufacturers now more than ever value the importance of expandable memory. The magic of microSD means you can now (with the right smartphone device) upgrade your data storage by 200G. The Dream.


The MP3 Player I currently own might actually be my last, but my music listening days are far from over. With the electronics domain changing faster and faster, who knows how we’ll be carrying out music around twenty years from now. I know that one day, I’ll be explaining the magic of first portable MP3 players to my confused grandkids; they’ll no doubt scoff at our old-fashioned struggles, not to mention, our outdated musical tastes.



Andreas Ødegård on March 31, 2008 11:40 Am, Andreas Ødegård. “Celebrating 10 Years of MP3 Players – Anything But IPod.” Anything But IPod. N.p., 31 Mar. 2008. Web. Aug. 2016.

One thought on “Are MP3 Players Becoming Obsolete?

  1. I agree with this commentary. I DO have a Samsung cell phone. Which is, more-or-less, an all-in-one device. Including being an mp3 player. Recently, I’ve done an indepth research on portable mp3 players. 99+% of them ONLY work with older versions of Windows (Windows XP, Windows 98, etc………) Maybe the portable mp3 player technology IS being phased out for newer technology.


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