Tag Archives | iPods

The Giant iPod Touch Theory: I Don't Know if I Buy It, But I Like It

iHammockIs Apple getting ready to release a tablet that’s essentially an oversized iPod Touch? I don’t know, and neither do you. And neither does media blogger Rex Hammock. But he’d sure like to see such a gadget–and he has a fun post up theorizing that it might show up in the next 45 days. He’s not an analyst and doesn’t run an Apple rumor site, so he’s not declaring it to be fact. It’s just a theory–he calls this piece a “guessay.” But it’s nicely fleshed out, with details like the price point ($500), the size (about the size of a letter-size piece of paper), the primary target audience (college students, who’ll use the device to read interactive textbooks, as well as for fun stuff), and even the launch event (read the post!).

I have no idea if Rex’s guessay will turn into reality, but it would be nice if it did. I do think there’s at least a reasonably decent possibility (how’s that for intentionally vague wording?) that Apple will release something in the coming months that competes with netbooks, at a slightly higher price than a typical netbook, without being a netbook. And I think it’s something close to a dead certainty that there will eventually be devices based on the iPhone OS that are at least a little more like traditional PCs in size and purpose than today’s iPhones and iPod Touches (or is that iPods Touch)?

My biggest question about the device I’m now thinking of as the iHammock (I can’t call it the iRex–there’s already an e-reader by that name) is simple: Is there any way to build one as thin as Apple would make it, and still deliver adequate battery life?


Even More on That iPod Shuffle Remote Control

iPod Shuffle ControlOver at PCMag.com, Mark Hachman has a good piece on the controversial new earbud-embedded remote control for Apple’s new iPod Shuffle. Folks have theorized that Apple will demand royalties on third-party headphones that incorporate remote controls, and that it might be encrypting commands send from the remote to the Shuffle to prevent unauthorized clones. And maybe even that it was planning to spread such a design to other iPods.

Hachman’s piece is based largely on an interview with a Monster Cable exec; that company plans to make lots of Shuffle-compatible headphones, and says that the commands aren’t encrypted and that it thinks that manufacturers could make compatible headphones without Apple’s blessing. On the other hand, the remote functionality apparently does fall under Apple’s “Made for iPod” logo program, which involves paying a fee to Apple if a company chooses to participate.

Bottom line: It looks like the remote may be a new revenue stream for Apple, but that it isn’t a nefarious plot to monopolize the iPod headphone market. Which doesn’t mean that the Shuffle’s design won’t continue to be controversial. I seem to be one of relatively few reviewers who was sort of won over by it–not that I decided it makes sense for everybody–and I remain very curious whether consumers will end up giving it a thumbs up. (The most obvious way to tell that will be if the design continues on to the fourth-generation Shuffle, whenever that shows up…)


Introducing the iPez Shuffle!

iPod Shuffle TeaserI’m not sure if there are any deep psychological insights to be gained, but one interesting thing about Apple’s tiny new iPod Shuffle is that it reminds different people of different other tiny things. USA Today’s Ed Baig compared it to a tie clasp. For David Pogue of the New York Times, it evoked Trident gum.

And me? The moment I saw it in person, I thought to myself, Pez. The player’s size and dimensions brought to mind a wrapped roll of Pez candy, the kind you insert into a Pez dispenser. So I did a comparison. The Shuffle is a tad wider than a Pez packet, but its depth is about the same, and it’s quite a bit shorter. And that’s including the Shuffle’s built-in clip.

Continue Reading →


The iPod Shuffle Gets Even Smaller

Apple usually announces new stuff on Tuesdays, but just to keep us on our toes, it’s making an, ahem, small announcement today. There’s a new iPod Shuffle that’s almost 50 percent smaller than its predecessor, and smaller than an AA battery, yet which is still the first Shuffle capable of putting the iPod’s traditional 1,000 songs in your pocket (or on your person–the new Shuffle retains the built-in clip):

iPod Shuffle

The company achieved the further shrinkage by moving the controls off the player onto a tiny remote that’s embedded in the headphones (making this, I guess, the first iPod that can’t be used with third-party headphones, unless someone comes up with some sort of adapter):

Shuffle Controls

[UPDATE: Apple says you’ll be able to buy an adapter for third-party headphones. Better than nothing–especially if you’re the type of person who associates Apple headphone with a stinging feeling in one’s ears, or with them just falling out–but adding an adapter certainly eliminates some of the appeal of the Shuffle’s tininess.]

The new Shuffle also introduces a new feature called VoiceOver that reads menus, song titles, and the like out loud in a robotic voice; it can also read playlist names, allowing this to be the first Shuffle that supports playlists. Apple’s demo video shows how it works. Apple’s promotion for this new player says it’s the first talking MP3 player. Not so. It may have the most sophisticated text-to-speech interface, but the current iPod Nano also has a speech option.

(Side note: The video demonstrator, who says she’s an Apple Store employee, talks about how the remote control lets you use the Shuffle while on a “ride.” If she lives in Apple’s headquarters state of California, that better not be a bicycle ride–covering both your ears with headphones while biking is illegal here.)

At this point, Apple is presumably shrinking the Shuffle because, well, it can, and because some folks will buy a new one simply because it’s smaller. But it’s hard to imagine that anyone found the previous one uncomfortably bulky.

(Second side note: I wonder whether Apple will release a software update for the old Shuffles that gives them VoiceOver?)

The new Shuffle is made of aluminum, comes in silver and black (you gotta think that Apple will restore the old Shuffle’s rainbow of colors eventually),  and is available in one storage capacity: 4GB for $79. It’s shipping today.

Just to refresh everyone’s memory, here’s what the previous-generation Shuffle (which dates from September 2006) looked like. It was, arguably, a cooler piece of industrial design, or at least a less Spartan one:

2nd Generation Shuffle

And here’s the original Juicyfruit-sized  iPod Shuffle, announced at Macworld Expo in January 2005, and strikingly small at the time:

First-Generation Shuffle

And here’s a hasty artist’s conception of what next next-gen Shuffle could look like:

Tiny iPod Shuffle


Wake Up, World! Amazon’s MP3 Store Deserves Better. Doesn’t It?

amazonmp3Over at All Things Digital, Peter Kafka is saying that Amazon.com’s DRM-free MP3 download store is a “miserable failure” as an iTunes Store rival at the end of its first year of operation. Judged in terms of market share, dollars, and cents, it’s hard to argue that it’s anything else: Kafka says that Amazon appears to have around seven or eight percent of the music download business, compared to Apple’s seventy-plus. If it’s possible to put a serious dent in Apple’s supremacy, Amazon hasn’t figured out how to do it…and neither have other DRM-free music merchants such as eMusic, Rhapsody, Wal-Mart, and Lala. iTunes is to digital music what Windows was for years to operating systems: A player so utterly dominant that it’s hard to figure out a scenario in which its share shrinks, let alone make it happen.

Continue Reading →


25 Unanswerable Questions About Apple


Everybody has two businesses, the old saying goes: their own business, and show business. It’s the same with technology, except everybody’s two business are their own business…and Apple’s. No other tech company on the planet is followed as avidly, nor is any so routinely second-guessed. And if anything, controversy over Apple’s decisions and dramas intensifies with time: I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if someone, somewhere, still contends that Jobs and Wozniak should have slashed the $666.66 pricetag of 1976’s Apple I to better compete with the $495 Altair.

Apple’s long history is rife with defining moments…and, therefore, with roads not traveled that might have led to radically different places. I call the twenty-five items in this story “unanswerable questions” because none of them have right answers: Nobody knows what would have happened if things had turned out differently. All you can do is speculate. Which is what I do, briefly, for all of the questions below. But mostly, I’m curious what you think. These questions may be unanswerable, but it’s still a blast to try and answer them anyhow, as I hope you’ll do in the comments…

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? After the jump, that is…

Continue Reading →


The Fuzzy-Wuzzy World of Tech Spy Shots

[SHAMELESS PLUG: Technologizer will be liveblogging the Apple notebook event on 10/14/2008 @ 10am PT. Please join us.]

So Engadget has published a shot of what might be a next-generation MacBook built with an innovative manufacturing process:

The shot has several things in common with most tech-product spy shots:

1) It’s of an unannounced but eagerly-anticipated product;

2) Nobody really knows whether it’s real or not, except, maybe, for the person who leaked it;

3) It’s a horrible photo, one that’s fuzzy and which otherwise just doesn’t show the product in question in a manner that would help anyone judge its veracity.

Continue Reading →