Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Apple "updates" the iPod

The world needs another iPod blog like I need a hole in my head, and I'm doing my damndest to ensure that mine doesn't turn into one, but I can't let today's new iPod announcement pass without comment.

As you know, I purchased a 20GB iPod only a few short weeks ago. I'd been reading the latest rumors regarding this update with trepidation since then. I know all about this stuff; I'd visited Thinksecret and Macrumors before taking the plunge, and was self-assured that I'd have at least six months before Apple forced my fourth-generation iPod into obsolescence. But then the rumors picked up, and finally reached a fever pitch yesterday - the entire lineup would receive color screens, the 40GB model would be reduced to $349, bluetooth would be added, direct camera connectors would be standard, and the Mini would receive a bump in capacity. Many began to speculate that this was going to be the generational leap set for later this year, moved up in the calendar.

Lucky for me, and maybe not so lucky for some others, most of the rumors turned out to be false - as is so often the case where Apple's concerned. (Those of us "in the know" about such things will tell you that most of these rumors are PR department plants designed to throw off the scent in case any real info does manage to get out.) The Mini did get both a capacity and a battery boost, though the older 4GB models stay on at a reduced price. There's a new 30GB iPod Photo at the $349 price point, though it does not include the iPod dock (like the 40GB and 60GB models used to), nor does it include a firewire cable - both of which have been removed from the 60GB package too as it drops to $449. The 20GB monochrome-screen model stays on the market at $299.

The end result being that, while the 30GB model seems like a half-decent deal and one I may have considered over my 20GB, the fact that it includes no firewire cable makes it rather useless for me in practice (see my earlier post). In fact, I may have even given up on trying to get the thing to work at all before realizing all I needed to do was buy a firewire cable. (And because current iPods only include the dock connector, an iPod firewire cable is a $20 part, raising the total cost to $370, or actually around $85 more than I paid for my discounted 20GB model). So I'm still reasonably happy I went the direction I did, although if USB actually worked reliably with the iPod, I might feel differently.

For those of you expecting bigger and better things than what we seem to have gotten here, especially after getting smashed over the head repeatedly by the non-stop rumor-mill the past few days, I'm fairly confident the predicted full line refresh will still happen towards late summer and we'll see color screens throughout the line and a new design for the "big" iPod. Depending on the pricing, I may decide to upgrade at that point myself, although we'll see how compelling the upgrade actually is.

I will say that it's sort of lamentable to see Apple removing stuff to lower the price on even the top-end iPods. The entire lineup is slowly losing whatever cachet it's got left. I mean, even at $449 for the 60GB model I still might expect a freakin' dock. Come on, Apple - this is a cheap little piece of plastic with a connector port on it, it can't cost you more than two bucks to make. Do you really want to go this route? Do you really want to try to compete with Sony, Dell, Creative and iRiver based solely on price and capacity? Because you know what happened when you tried to do that with computers in the late 80's and early 90's. You really want to try that again?

I'm just waiting for the day when all iPods ship in those unopenable plastic bubble containers.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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