Nice article looking back over the phenomenon that was / is the iPod.
I remember when it was released, Steve Jobs said (paraphrasing), “We’re going to announce something new – and it’s not a Mac”.
I thought at the time it was a nice idea but expensive. Since that day I have bought:
iPod mini (still works but unused)
iPod classic (still in use in the car)
iPod shuffle (sadly lost to the washing machine)
iPod Nano (still in use at the gym)
iPod touches (about 5 of them for various members of the family).
Yes – the iPod did chance Apple forever – it allowed the masses to experience the Apple brand and understand what those crazy Mac users have been going on about for all those years – a significant amount of them joined us also.
Very interesting post from MacRumors.com, on the perceived evolution of Apple’s customer base, to-wit,”consumers want what we don’t have”.
As new players enter the market, the customer’s needs change, this is inevitable in any free-market and it’s something that Apple used to be very good at despite all the dogma that, “Apple abhors focus groups, and doesn’t listen to it’s customers.”
Take the iPod for instance.
The iPod started of in as much the same way as the iPhone, a very expensive, albeit limited answer to a market that already existed.
Over time, new models were introduced, the hardware got a lot cheaper, and every single market niche was eventually filled, from the music-mad (100g+ iPod classic for all your songs), to the teen with limited cash, (the iPod mini/nano), onto the bargain-basement little iPod shuffle.
The iTunes store gained traction and ALL the hardware from the high end to the low-end was serviced by the iTunes store.
To the point we are now at where the competition to the iPod doesn’t exist, it’s been destroyed, other than extremely cheap devices that are little more than USB sticks with a few extras.
Game, set and match.
You can argue that the bottom has fallen out of the iPod market, now that the iPod touch fills most of what remains, however all the iPod line is still on sale.
So why hasn’t this happened with the iPhone?
Where is our iPhone mini or nano?
Where is our iPhone shuffle, or the candy-bar phone equivalent?
While we’re at it, why can’t developers write apps for the AppleTV?
Why doesn’t Apple view the iPhone market, in the same way the viewed the iPod market?
It would certainly work, the AppStore is perfectly capable of servicing every model of iPhone, with apps that can only run on certain hardware, (you can’t view videos on an iPod shuffle like you can on an iPod classic for instance).
Lot’s of why’s, very little answers.
Looking at some of the internal memos that have come out from the Apple / Samsung trial, it’s clear that there’s a struggle going on at the top of Apple, in what they stand for, what markets they should service, and what their profit-margins should be.
It’s clear that Apple needs to get focused and act like a start-up, like they used to.
I remember a comment I read once concerning a question put to Steve Jobs along the lines of, “If you could release the Mac today, would you do anything differently?”
His answer was along the lines of, “I wouldn’t let anyone write software for it.”
I think his reasoning behind this statement, is the perennial problem that plagues computers: the fact that they are computers.
Anybody with minimal training can come along a write any software they like and release it into the wild. Users can then install it onto their computer and off they go.
This central premise lies at the heart of what a computer is – it runs software, both good and bad.
Coming back to Steve’s comment, even he couldn’t create a time machine and actually do this, but he could (and I think he’s trying and succeeding) to certainly do the next best thing.
Namely, anyone who wants to write software, must have that software approved – by Apple.
This is the current model of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Whether you agree that it’s a good thing or a bad thing, any software that runs on these devices is controlled by Apple. They could even delete it remotely if they wanted to.
Now think of the upcoming tablet.
The current consensus is 7″-10″, that probably runs a variant of the TouchOS, and iWork is installed by default – this means that this is a serious content creation device, not a passive device that you listen to music and watch movies on.
But that means it also runs the AppStore. Which means that the software distribution model is the same – any software is controlled by Apple.
Now speculate – 5 years from now, we will have bigger tablets that run some seriously meaty software (I’m thinking Adobe apps here), and we will still have the same software distribution model.
A device that will, sooner or later replace the mouse-driven desktop, with all application development controlled by Apple.
Software that’s even more reliable than what we have now, with no viruses, spyware or malware, and even if they could be written, there would be no way for those things to even get onto your tablet.
What Steve Jobs is attempting to do with the iPhone, iPod Touch and by extension the range of tablets that they will sooner or later have, is redefine an industry.
Computers and everything that they have ever meant, will be consigned to the history books – and good riddance to them.
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So it’s over. Steve looked fine, new iTunes, new Touch, new Shuffle, new Nano, iTunes LP, blah, blah, FM tuner, blah, iTunes at 70-odd%, Microsoft at 1% (silent laughter), blah, blah, no Apple TV.
Wait a minute – FM tuner?
How can you get excited about an FM tuner? the one thing that you would have bet your Mac that would never be in an iPod?
Ah, with an Apple twist – you can pause live radio and tag songs for later purchase in iTunes.
Steve, you bloody genius. Now you see why it’s never been a feature until now, until Apple made it actually useful.
I will probably buy it just for that feature, but it’s US-only – for now.
Queue the articles about Steve’s health in 3, 2, 1…
This is a difficult post to write.
More often than not, the content of this blog is pro-Apple. I make no apologies for this, and although I do critcise Apple from time to time, I also cut them some slack.
Recently I purchased MobileMe. Now, despite a hiccup in purchasing, which wasn’t Apple’s fault, but the resellers, things went smoothly.
At first, things went smoothly. I have an iBook running Leopard, an iPod Touch and a G5 Tower running Tiger, all syncing to the cloud.
This worked fine for a little while. I kept getting a lot of contact an calendar updates on the G5, which was a bit suspicious, but things worked OK.
That was until last week.
The G5 at work was syncing OK, no problems, the iBook & Touch worked flawlessly. Just to check a configuration, I clicked the .Mac Preference Pane on the G5 (it’s running Tiger remember).
It wouldn’t open. It beachballed and then gave me a ‘Could not open .Mac because of an error.”
I’m a seasoned troubleshooter, so I logged into another account – same result. OK, that points to a system-wide pref file that’s corrupted.
So I moved all the .plist files I could find and restarted.
Oh dear. This time the G5 stalled at the desktop. It couldn’t load the .Mac menubar item. So I did a bit of system-voodoo and removed that menubar item so it wouldn’t have to load.
The system now started ok (sans the menu bar item), but upon launching System Preferences, the .Mac Preference Pane wasn’t there.
Ouch. Never seen that before. At this point I thought about cache corruption. The preference pane was in the system (I checked) but it wasn’t loading.
So I cleaned the local caches and restarted. Now my Keyboard & Mouse Preference Pane is in Chinese. I kid you not.
Anyway, this G5 is a production machine, so I left it there, so I could do some more research.
This research has given me a few pointers, which I will try soon. There’s a couple of files I haven’t trashed yet, so we’ll try that.
If that doesn’t work, then I’ll clean all caches, including system.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll try reinstalling the combo updater.
If that doesn’t work, it’s a install of a new system.
How is it possible that enabling a product on your system can cause so many problems? I have over 20 years Mac experience and I’m grasping for solutions.
How is it possible that a product can simply stop working for no reason?
And, let’s not forget, this is an additional service I’VE PAID FOR.
Which is why this article is difficult to write.
MOBILEME IS NOT READY – AT ALL.
It works for lots of people, but not all. I certainly could not run a business on this. Even the little web-design service I do in my spare time.
I don’t expect this from Apple, I really don’t.
Are we seeing here the limits to what Apple can do reliably? Are we seeing the edges of their competence? Were all those Windows users right in saying that Apple just doesn’t do certain things as good as Microsoft?
Now that Steve’s away, I hope that Tim asks some serious question of MobileMe. It’s damaging the brand severely and they need the courage to fix it properly, or pull it off the market, trash it and partner with Google, rebrand their offerings and give us a service that we can all be proud of.
Will I be renewing in a years time? At this moment, I’d say no.
I love my iPod. Well actually I love my iPods, because I have 4 of them, but there’s one thing that’s been troubling me.
The hardware changes, the design changes, but the underlying software features don’t seem to change.
Things have moved on from version 1, and I know that Apple like to keep things simple, but there’s one thing I wish they would add, or I could add myself.
More often than not, I’m listening to my music on shuffle, and I come across a song by an artist I really like, and by extension I like other songs by this artist.
Why can I not simply skip to a list that says:
1) Shuffle to other songs by this artist
2) Shuffle to other songs in this genre
3) Shuffle to other songs in this year
Maybe this could be a special section that you could programme from iTunes, so you would have an Applescript that does this, but it executes also on the iPod.
I know that the ‘KISS’ principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), is behind a lot of reasoning at Apple, but time and time again I come across a situation like this in the car.
The only way around it is to navigate back to the top level, select ‘Artist’ and shuffle from their entry – it’s not very easy and probably quite dangerous and distracting if you’re driving.
Maybe now that the AppStore is open we’ll see this, but what with Apple restricting certain apps when they duplicate in-built features, it’s not likely.
AND I CANT PUT THE THING DOWN!
Seriously, it’s glued to my hand and I can not stop surfing the net, looking at photos, reading ebooks (using the excellent application, Stanza, checking my email and last, but not least, posting on WordPress.
Most, if not all, Apple products are a joy to use, but this device is incredible.
I cannot understand what problem people have with the keyboard, as I’ve picked it up fine. I’m typing pretty quicky and making few mistakes, certainly no more than I would on a normal keyboard.
It’s not often that using a piece of technology actually makes you smile, and indeed, I actually laughed a couple of times because the GUI is so smooth, so refined, so perfect that you cannot believe that technology could be this good, this cool, this wonderful to use.
Surfing the net is a revelation. The clicking, zooming in, the speed is great. I’ve found myself not even using my main Mac for surfing or email, it’s just so simple to just pluck it out your pocket and quickly surf and go.
And I haven’t even played any games yet.
It has really surprised me what a game changer the touch platform is, and it is a platform, make no mistake.
The touch has become my platform of choice for surfing, email, viewing photos and reading, with my 30gb iPod being primarily for music and podcasts and my little shuffle for the gym.
I cannot wait to see what Apple do next with this, an iPod tablet device, an iPod camera with iPhoto touch, the possibilities are endless.
Are there any negatives? Not really, even copy and paste doesn’t seem necessary, but Steve’s onto a winner here.