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…It’s Things Thursday: iPods?


Apple is leaking, and someone needs to fix it. (Pardon my rant)

Back in the day, everyone went into a special announcement day blind. You could make a random guess at what was in store, but it was little more than that. There were no leaked product shots, pre-release specs, or damn near spot-on speculation. Instead, there was hope and wonder at what the black turtle neck man had in his back pocket. A ‘boom’ and a ‘one more thing’ later, you left with your mind blown and you raced over to an Apple store where the latest goodies were waiting for your hard earned dollars.

Now, there’s just not much in the way of surprises. Going in, everyone pretty much knew what was debuting, and there was only one boom (and it was a little one). No ‘one more thing’ later, everyone left feeling a bit let down, wondering how long it is going to take for the stores to start stocking the new line, which is scheduled for ‘soon’.

An entire revamp of the iPod product line, something that should have been a momentous occasion, turned into little more than a seen that before feeling, and a ‘huh’ atmosphere. Could this signal the end of an era? They released an 8mm thick, flash based iPod that browses the Internet and uses advanced touch controls for crying out loud. Where’s the excitement?

Still, they have found a way to wrench $399 out of my hands in the next few weeks, so I guess what they put out there still has some flair after all.

So without further ado, here’s the gist:

iPhone: Price drop. $399 for the 8GB version, and the bargain bin for what’s left of the 4GB versions. Fanboys who bought right after launch are pretty pissed, and for good reason. Also, a discount like this either means a new, top of the line iPhone is just down the road, or it’s a signal that they’re not selling like they’re supposed to, and Apple is quickly trying to pick up the pieces. Investors in AAPL seem to think it’s the latter, and the stock went into an uncharacteristic for debut day nosedive. Still, for those of us who patiently waited to see what would transpire, we have been rewarded, and I see a new phone in my future.

iPod Touch: Wow. It’s like an iPhone without the whole phone part. Touch controls, spiffy display, flash memory, the whole nine. They even included WiFi for Internet fun. Bump this bad boy to somewhere in the 50GB range, and they’ll fly off shelves. Even as is, I think they’ve got a hit on their hands.

iPod Classic: Perfect. They took their winning formula, rounded it out a bit, gave it a metal casing and a new UI, bumped the storage, lowered the price, and Viola! A winner. If you can’t beat perfection, don’t.

iPod Nano: Knew it. This one was a let down. It didn’t differ from the leaked photos, so the intro already felt like I’d seen it before. Regardless, they did fit quite a bit of stuff into a very small device, which is impressive. New screen, new shape, new size, and the ability to play video mean that this little guy is probably going to be their hottest selling ‘Pod.

iPod Shuffle: Not much. New colors, and the introduction of a (PRODUCT) RED version means that this tiny guy is here to stay. You can’t blame them, however, because what can you do with a music player that isn’t any bigger than the buttons on the front?

WiFi Music Store: Very cool. Now, with both the Touch and the iPhone, you can log onto iTunes anywhere you have a WiFi signal, and download music directly to your device. It then transfers that music back to your computer the next time you sync, and you’re good to go. Finally!

Starbucks: Strange. When you’re at a Starbucks, an additional icon pops up on the Touch and the iPhone that allows you to get onto their network for free to download the tracks that are currently playing in the store (not for free). I think this is a very cool idea, and I’m sure someone will find a way to hack this for free Internet access at the ‘bucks, but an extra button? Was that really necessary? Doesn’t Starbucks already have enough logos spread around the world?

Ringtones: You can now buy ringtones for your iPhone from the iTunes store. Good news: You can buy ringtones. Bad news: You have to buy the ringtones. No free inclusion when you buy the song. Bummer.

Colors: A new line-up of colors emerged, and they’re mostly terrible. It looks like they hired the Easter Bunny’s design firm to come up with the concepts. Black and silver still look good, but I guess the other colors just aren’t my style. (The red looks good as well, though the whole (PRODUCT) RED campaign is questionable at best.) Also, here’s an interesting fact: There’s no white. The color that started it all is no more, and you’ll have to speak with Colorware if you want yours truely ‘classic’. Sort of an interesting move considering how well white has worked for them in the past, but I guess Apple is going for a universal color scheme now, and white is just so last year (apparently), so away it goes.

All in all, I’d say I really like what they’ve done, though as I said, I just wish there was still a bit of surprise left. Just one big ‘boom’ and a ‘one more thing’; is that too much to ask?

[Apple Store]