Monday, June 30, 2008

New iPods rumor?

With the day of the iPhone 3G coming closer, more and more rumors are starting for iPods on the net. With Apple putting the iPhone 3G price at $199, it's pretty confusing to consumers in regards to pricing of the iPod lineup. Anything at the $199 price will become a hard sell, since the comparison is the iPhone 3G 8GB.

My take:
-Shuffle: no change, maybe price drop (1GB gone, 2GB at current 1GB price).
-iPod nano: Apple pretty much nailed it with the 3G nano. There isn't much they could do more. Maybe capacity bump across the board and/or price drop. You could see some hints at the prices of the refurbished nanos. Maybe 8GB or 16GB @ $149. It would be hard for Apple to promote the nano at $199, considering the iPhone 3G price.
-iPod classic: There is no announcements/rumors about larger capacity 1.8" hard-drives. The iPod classic is already at 160GB. Price drop will overlap with the nano/iPhone/Touch too closely. Maybe 100GB/120GB @ $249, and 160GB @299, but unlikely.
-iPod Touch: In the past, at the same price with the iPhone, you loose the phone, but gain more capacity at the same price point. With the iPhone 3G, consumers might look at the Touch as the worst deal. Apple could ignore the Touch altogether, pushing people to buy the iPhone. If not, there must be some price cuts/capacity bump. I'm guessing $100 price drop across the board. Same price with the iPhone 3G and all the new apps without 2 year commitment to AT&T.

My wish:
-iPod nano: bring back the aluminum enclosure like 2G nano. I can't believe Apple brought back the highly scratchable chrome back for the 3G. 16GB is a must, considering all the competitors (Sony, Creative, etc) have 16GB already. Maybe also put the Nike transmitter built-in so we don't have to deal with dock-blocking attachment anymore.
-iPod classic: I want a flash based iPod classic. The nano is great, but the click wheel is just too small. The iPod classic has the perfect size on my hand. Make it full aluminum (ala mini/2G nano) and flash based (32GB+).
-iPod Touch: Make it cheap and use the backing of the first gen iPhone. And where's the shuffle by album?

To be honest, there isn't much more innovation you can do on a digital audio player anymore. Apple nailed almost everything, including gapless playback on MP3 & AAC, something that the competitors cannot even figure out yet. Microsoft tried wifi sharing, but it's going nowhere. Creative will come up with their X-Fi DAP, but too late and who cares. With memory card prices getting cheaper and cheaper, more and more people are using cellphones as their basic DAPs. Everybody realize this (Apple with Touch/iPhone, Sony Ericsson with Walkman phones, Nokia with XpressMusic and N-series phones). It's cheaper for people to buy a 2GB microSD card than an iPod shuffle. The MP3 player as we know it is going to the way of the PDA, replaced by cellphones, and Apple is definitely aware of this. I can see Apple will focus more and more on the iPhone/Touch, especially with the new firmware and apps. The iPod as we know it might be gone, or maybe Apple will just keep the nano as a low end DAP, and push the Touch as the main iPod.


Steve said...

There's a ton of innovation possible.

Above all, god forbid, Apple could possibly support audio formats beyond their awful proprietary .m4a format and mp3, and support OGG and FLAC files favored by more sound-conscious users.

A flash-based Classic would defeat the purpose, since the people who buy them want the high-capcity space that flash memory is nowhere near reaching.

Above all, though...if they're opening up the silly iPhone to 3rd party apps, why not the iPod? I've used Rockbox on my 5.5 Gen for awhile, and there's a LOT of things an iPod would be capable of that Apple is just too damn lazy to implement, so if they wanted to be innovative, they could allow users to write software, apps, and games for the iPod and make it the most customizable media player on the market.

But then again, this is a company that still sells computers with a one-button mouse.

Josh said...

Seriously? Come on, this is Apple. They always find something that makes a new iPod worth buying.

@steve OGG and FLAC would be pointless, an iPod isn't capable of delivering that kind of quality anyway. And their one-button mouse is really a two-button mouse, it just looks like a one-button mouse.

pika2000 said...

Last time I check, AAC and MP3 are universally supported, even by Sony and Microsoft, nothing "proprietary" about them. They're not like WMA/Atrac. OGG and FLAC are good, but why should Apple spend money to put codecs that is hardly used by the general public? AAC and MP3 is perfectly fine for lossy codec, and Apple has Apple lossless. Besides, if you really need OGG/Flac support, there's Cowon. Apple is targeting the mainstream public. Adding codecs will only confuse people that are already confused between MP3 and any other lossy codecs.

A flash based classic is as likely as Apple supporting OGG. :) That was just my wish, just like your wish Apple supporting OGG. In short, not gonna happen.

Apple IS doing apps for the iPod, it's called the iPod Touch. The fact that Apple has the Touch meaning that they know the future of DAPs is not standalones, but in cellphones (iPhone) or multi-function device.

Apart from those, what other innovation you can do on a DAP? Not much. Supporting yet another lossy codec is not innovation. More and more people are using their cellphones as their basic DAP. Apple knew this, that's why they started the iPhone. Look at any other DAPs on the market, pretty much all have about the same feature and spec. IMO iPods are still the best DAP around (Gapless playback, iTunes), but the innovation Apple did give us the iPhone as a new mobile platform.

pika2000 said...

An yes, the mighty mouse has 2 buttons.

Josh said...

I don't really understand why you would want a flash based classic. I agree with Steve on that one. I have a classic because of its capacity. I don't care how fast it loads up a playlist. It's not noticeably slow anyway. When I sync the iPod it doesn't take that long to add new songs. Even if I wiped out the entire iPod and made it put every song back on there I wouldn't really notice it.

The bottom line is that adding flash memory to the iPod classic would put a limit on the capacity or push the price way up, or most likely both.