Don’t Toss that Old iPod! Apple’s Future Collectibles


The iPod (or iPhone) might just be man’s new best friend. It can make calls, play music, let you bid on eBay, and keep your life together—all from the comfort of your pocket. But could man’s new best friend become an amazing collectible within the next decade? Absolutely. Let’s take a look at several reasons discarded iPods that are gathering dust in your closet could be worth big bucks in the future.

Intended to be Disposable

Most old iPods are like vintage sneakers. iPods are expensive accessories that owners have on them at all times, but they are often instantly discarded when a new model comes to market. This leaves them in the trash, in your little brother’s room, or banged up and left for dead deep in the back of a closet—not cared for and tucked away like most collectibles. And like sneakers, therein lies their scarcity and future value.


Completing the Set

The collectibility of music has all but ceased. With the shift to digital audio transfers, piles of CDs are a thing of the past. With the movement away from physical music collections, we lack a supply of “rare” CDs or records to covet. What could step in? The  digital audio devices themselves.

With the rise of the iPhone and Apple’s eventual departure from the iPod line, many Apple collectors are trying to put together a full set of all iPod models. Most stick to one incarnation, but others look for the minis, nanos, and shuffles as well. Some collectors are on the hunt for rare accessories, too, like the optional remote sold for first- and second-generation iPods.

What Will Be Collectible?

The Holy Grail of regular release of iPods will likely be sealed versions of the the first-generation 5 GB and 10 GB iPods. This model was in production for only a short time, as it was quickly replaced by higher capacity (and smaller) iterations. Sealed first-generation iPods routinely go for $700 to $800 on eBay, but out-of-box, first-generation 5 GB models are recently selling for $775.

Meanwhile, complete, opened, first-generation 5 GB iPods often sell in the $375 to $500 range—pretty good for a consumer product that originally retailed for $399. Even rarer is the first-generation 10 GB iPod, which retailed for more and seemed like an almost unnecessary amount of storage space when it first appeared in  2001.

The first generation plexiglass store displays (remember those?) that included a working iPod and earbuds would no doubt fetch a nice price if you got your hands on one. I would argue  any store display containing a variation of a working iPod (nano, classic, etc.) would be quite desirable due to their scarcity.

The constant tweaking of iPod specs and multiple generations will no doubt generate “rarer” pieces of hardware, but it will probably be several years before the harder to find ones are determined. Sealed versions of any generation, if available at a price substantially below the original retail cost, are a good bet. The overwhelming majority of iPods users “used” them; they didn’t keep the devices locked away and sealed. Remaining sealed iPods from previous generations are likely unsold stock from retail stores. I wonder what is hiding in the backroom of my local Best Buy and Target? Hmm…

Limited Edition iPods

Over the years, a number of limited edition iPods have been produced, but these varied greatly in distribution and numbers. The first were a series of “signature” iPods released in 2002 featuring etched autographs of Beck, Tony Hawk, or Madonna on the reverse. The signature iPods retailed in stores for $549—$50 more than a “normal” iPod, and they didn’t exactly take the shopping world by storm.

In the years since, several short release iPods have been commissioned, including Bloomingdale’s Beatles iPod limited to only 2,500 units, a super-expensive Prince-themed iPod that retailed for $2,100, and several short print-run iPods created exclusively to promote Fox shows Beverly Hills 90210, 24, and The Simpsons. Will these rise in value over time? Almost definitely.

Image Sources:  Raneko, eBay, ApplefritterBloomingdales.

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