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Apple needs to update iPod to stay on top?

post #1 of 88
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone,

I don't know if anyone is talking about this already but what is Apple's plan for its next generation iPod?

Check out this article touting Sony's new "iPod killer":

http://money.cnn.com/2004/07/01/tech...reut/index.htm

It supposedly has a 30 hour battery life and some sort of compression software that lets a 20 gig hardrive hold 13,000 songs. Also, it is $100 less than Apple's top of the line iPod.

Any thoughts?


-Dr. Bimane
post #2 of 88
Well, I haven't seen it yet, but it's a Sony-proprietary formatthe ATRAC thing. So it can be as nicely-compressed and cheap as it wants, but since it doesn't play iTMS-compatible songs, mp3s or even WMA, as far as I'm concerned probably next to no one in the USA will want it.

Sony often has nice style, though, so that's one thing they've got over other competitors.
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post #3 of 88
Thread Starter 
Check out pictures of it:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07...ny_hd_walkman/

It looks pretty cool.

However, I did not realize that it could not play mp3s.

It is a proprietary format. That will hurt Sony...I agree.

-Dr. Bimane
post #4 of 88
It looks kinda cute... that's something. The interface looks like it might be okay, although the little round control looks somewhat familiar in a miniPod kind of way.

I notice that although it only plays ATRAC format, "other formats are converted" to that format when uploaded to the player. I still don't think it will get them anywhere, because you're still forced to use their software and it's just one extra step from the iTMS to the player.

But maybe that's something Apple might do in the future -- convert other formats on the fly into AAC when you feed them to your iPod. Possibly a future method for using WMA? Steve said they're not worrying about it until WMA is at 50% market share, but maybe that just means the iPod won't play it, not that you couldn't convert it.

Although, now that I think about it, playing nice with WMA in any way at all doesn't sound like a very Steve thing to do.
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post #5 of 88
I'm not even wasting my time on that CNN link. It comes to the point I grow weary of the web pontificaton.

We all know the 4G iPods are coming and that iTunes MS has excellent traction.

I'm not even impressed with Sony anymore. Samsung is eating their lunch in TVs and Apples eating their lunch in portables. Their last great success is the Playstation.
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post #6 of 88
Well, they finally fielded a decent hardware design. The quality of the interface is still to be determined.

As for converting other formats on the fly, that's nice, but it's also very likely that they don't convert any copy-protected files, because that means changing the licensing terms and that won't fly anywhere - certainly not in license-happy Europe.

The Sony store got panned, even by David Pogue (not that he's a pushover, but he usually just gets diplomatic if he doesn't like something). That's going to be a big problem. At this point, if you want to kill iPod, you need slick hardware and a slick interface and a slick jukebox and a slick music store with relatively liberal licensing terms. (That's the advantage of the "whole widget" strategy.) It doesn't look like Sony's close, frankly.

It's a pity, too, because the hardware guys responsible for that slim little number obviously did their homework.

n.b.: iTunes already converts unprotected WMA files to AAC, or whatever your preferred format is.
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post #7 of 88
I tend to agree... although I think it's a little harsh to say that the maker of the DVCAM PD-150 hasn't had any successes.

But it's true... since the iTMS UK/DE/France seems to be doing well (despite indie label absences), I'm not too worried about the success of the platform in general. Here's hoping the iPod 4G proves irresistable in yet another new and unforeseen way.
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post #8 of 88
I forgot they added unprotected WMA conversion this last time... it's a little hard to keep up with the progress of iTunes.
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post #9 of 88
Thread Starter 
Apple cannot sit back and marvel at its greatness.

That is what it did in the '80's with Microsoft and all of us know how that ended up.

The iPod is great. Yes.

But, it must continue to improve and evolve.

Maybe this thing from Sony will get Apple to drop prices on the iPod and continue to improve it.

-Dr. Bimane
post #10 of 88
I do not buy the whole "It holds this many songs" thing. I look at at bare capacity and Sony is pitting a $400 20 GB player against Apple's $400 20GB player. They *try* to compare it to the 40GB iPod but that is crap. I have dealt with Atrac files before and they are not all they are cracked up to be (nice but at 64kbps they still sound like low quality stuff).

The battery life is the most intriguing part. I'd like to hear some independent test confirm that.
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post #11 of 88
Dr. Bimane:

I agree that Apple needs to continue to improve. Fortunately, it seems these days that they also think that.

Bancho:

Totally agree about battery life. Would love to see some improvement there, although I also am skeptical about the claim in Sony's announcement.

On the subject of the 20GB capacity, you may be right that realistically they're still competing with Apple's 20GB capacity, but not all end users are as suspicious as people like us.
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post #12 of 88
Remember that people compare mhz to mhz even though between intel, AMD, and IBM, Mot are different things.

So in MOST peoples minds, 20gb is 20gb. You could probably fit a LOT of 32k aac files on a 40gb, but most people are not going to do that.
post #13 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by tak1108
Remember that people compare mhz to mhz even though between intel, AMD, and IBM, Mot are different things.

So in MOST peoples minds, 20gb is 20gb. You could probably fit a LOT of 32k aac files on a 40gb, but most people are not going to do that.

That's true... many people might not grasp the difference. And am I right in thinking that the ATRAC format is 64k? Who wants to hear that?! Yet another reason Sony Connect probably won't go very far.
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post #14 of 88
Atrac recently got demolished when compared against other codecs. It and WMA finished as the last two in a heap with Ogg Vorbis winning and AAC middle of the pack.

Atrac at 64kpps will be even worse. And even then it's superfluous because Apple could support HE-AAC(High Efficiency) which goes down to 48kbps and would likely be competitive.

If Sony is basing their marketing on songs per device they are simply manipulating the public.
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post #15 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by hmurchison
If Sony is basing their marketing on songs per device they are simply manipulating the public.

Manipulating the public is what advertising is for.
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post #16 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by glassblowerscat
Manipulating the public is what advertising is for.

Persuading, maybe. Manipulating... well, I'll just say that I'm happy whenever the company behind a cynical ad campaign suffers a blowback.
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post #17 of 88
I've heard somewhere that the battery life of the iPod can be extended by decreasing the bit rate of the music. A lower bitrate means less drive access & less power drain.

If that's true, the iPod could already fit as much songs and play music as long as the Sony player. Just lower the quality of all your songs. The only difference is that Apples proprietary format owns more than half of the market and the iPod has a superior interface.
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post #18 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by BeigeUser
I've heard somewhere that the battery life of the iPod can be extended by decreasing the bit rate of the music. A lower bitrate means less drive access & less power drain.

If that's true, the iPod could already fit as much songs and play music as long as the Sony player. Just lower the quality of all your songs. The only difference is that Apples proprietary format owns more than half of the market and the iPod has a superior interface.

And you'll still be listening to low-quality audio.
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post #19 of 88
While the Sony thing barely makes sense in Japan (cute design, good autonomy), because in Japan, the iPod is not really a fashionable item, and because Japanese are used to weird proprietary formats, this can't do any harm to the iPod outside Japan (and even inside Japan, where the iPod is, for some unknown reason, insanely cheap!!)... nothing to be scared of! Same thing for the whole Sony Connect store thing... just makes me laugh!
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post #20 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by glassblowerscat
And you'll still be listening to low-quality audio.

Exactly my point: I think that Sony has sacrificed the audio quality so that it can seem superior to the iPod in battery life and number of songs per GB. I may be proven wrong when I actually get to listen to those Sony players but for now, people shouldn't be tricked by Sony's specs.
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post #21 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by BeigeUser
Exactly my point: I think that Sony has sacrificed the audio quality so that it can seem superior to the iPod in battery life and number of songs per GB. I may be proven wrong when I actually get to listen to those Sony players but for now, people shouldn't be tricked by Sony's specs.

I doubt you're wrong. I just read somewhere that the default bitrate for current ATRAC players like the walkman is 64k. Sony is probably going off that number.
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post #22 of 88
To keep the iPod on the top, Apple needs to:

1. Shave off one or two more ounces from the regular iPod and the mini
2. Increase the buffer to 64MB for better playback of audio books
3. Increase battery life to 15-20 hours
4. Reduce cost and make an entry-level $150-$200 iPod
5. Larger capacity hard drives
6. Add a mic for use as a dictaphone
7. Higher quality inner-ear headphones
8. Support Ogg Vorbis playback
9. Launch an iPod SDK
10. OLED color screen
11. MPEG4 playback, H.264, with a mini s-video out port
12. Built-in Airport extreme with Rendezvous
13. AM/FM tuner
14. Bluetooth

Apple's grade:
12 or more -- A
9-11 -- B
6-8 -- C
3-5 -- D
less than 3 -- F
post #23 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Existence
To keep the iPod on the top, Apple needs to:

1. Shave off one or two more ounces from the regular iPod and the mini
2. Increase the buffer to 64MB for better playback of audio books
3. Increase battery life to 15-20 hours
4. Reduce cost and make an entry-level $150-$200 iPod
5. Larger capacity hard drives
6. Add a mic for use as a dictaphone
7. Higher quality inner-ear headphones
8. Support Ogg Vorbis playback
9. Launch an iPod SDK
10. OLED color screen
11. MPEG4 playback, H.264, with a mini s-video out port
12. Built-in Airport extreme with Rendezvous
13. AM/FM tuner
14. Bluetooth

Apple's grade:
12 or more -- A
9-11 -- B
6-8 -- C
3-5 -- D
less than 3 -- F

1. Agree
2. Not a priority...
3. Fuel cells?
4. Not very Apple-like. Maybe the HP iPod?
5. Toshiba's 60GB is on its way, but do you REALLY need a 60GB MP3 player??
6. That sounds like a 3rd-party thing
7. Why not
8. Waste of time : Ogg Vorbis is a codec mostly for geeks downloading weird stuff on the IRC
9. AGREE!!!! DEFINITELY!
10. No use, except for some funky vPod thing...
11. ...which is not gonna happen (yet) because that's more of a feature for pirates to watch their DivX on TV... remember that Jobs is also the CEO of Pixar?
12. That means price up and weight up...
13. 3rd party
14. Bluetooth AND Airport? No way
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post #24 of 88
Apple has done a fantastic job with establishing the iPod brand and image to the public.

However, I don't think they've done a very good job of conveying how cool/unmatched/unprecedented the whole Mac+iPod+iPod Dock+iTunes+iTMS is to people outside the Mac community. Something perfect for a ten minute demo at a conference, but much harder to condense down into a TV commercial length spot.

I was showing a friend who just got a new G5 around OS X last night. He's not a big music person, but he's knows all about the iPod and how good it is from all the commercials and press, but once I loaded up iTunes/iTMS and spent five minutes going over the whole iPod/iTunes/iTMS world he was absolutely blown away and was ready to buy iPods for his whole family.

I would like to see Apple get something at the 100 dollar range in the not to distant future. So far the iPod competitors have looked at lot like stuff built by a 1970s scifi fan in his garage, but someone is certainly going to be able to successfully clone a good enough knock off of the iPod.
post #25 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Tuttle
I don't think they've done a very good job of conveying how cool/unmatched/unprecedented the whole Mac+iPod+iPod Dock+iTunes+iTMS is to people outside the Mac community. Something perfect for a ten minute demo at a conference, but much harder to condense down into a TV commercial length spot.

Exactly. I can't say all of the improvements listed above seem like a huge priority, and I'm really sure at least a few of them are not things Apple will do.

The thing that I would like to see happen is for Apple to keep developing the concept of "computers for the rest of us." The Digital Lifestyle. I don't think we've grasped the idea completely, but I would really like to see strides made in putting the iPod and devices like it at the center of my digital life. I really think Apple needs to put effort into communicating to people just how cool their stuff is for ordinary, non-geek people.
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post #26 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Existence
To keep the iPod on the top, Apple needs to:

1. Shave off one or two more ounces from the regular iPod and the mini
2. Increase the buffer to 64MB for better playback of audio books
3. Increase battery life to 15-20 hours
4. Reduce cost and make an entry-level $150-$200 iPod
5. Larger capacity hard drives
6. Add a mic for use as a dictaphone
7. Higher quality inner-ear headphones
8. Support Ogg Vorbis playback
9. Launch an iPod SDK
10. OLED color screen
11. MPEG4 playback, H.264, with a mini s-video out port
12. Built-in Airport extreme with Rendezvous
13. AM/FM tuner
14. Bluetooth



to that add a gsm/gprs phone capability because cellphones and portable music devices are converging rapidly

for an idea of this look here! This is where the ipod should head.

http://www.sonyericsson.com/spg.jsp?...=pp1&pid=10140

http://news.com.com/2100-1041_3-5254146.html
post #27 of 88
"Apple needs to update iPod to stay on top?"

Apple needs to update the iPod to draw attention away from the iMac debacle.
post #28 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Existence
To keep the iPod on the top, Apple needs to:

1. Shave off one or two more ounces from the regular iPod and the mini
2. Increase the buffer to 64MB for better playback of audio books
3. Increase battery life to 15-20 hours
4. Reduce cost and make an entry-level $150-$200 iPod
5. Larger capacity hard drives
6. Add a mic for use as a dictaphone
7. Higher quality inner-ear headphones
8. Support Ogg Vorbis playback
9. Launch an iPod SDK
10. OLED color screen
11. MPEG4 playback, H.264, with a mini s-video out port
12. Built-in Airport extreme with Rendezvous
13. AM/FM tuner
14. Bluetooth

Apple's grade:
12 or more -- A
9-11 -- B
6-8 -- C
3-5 -- D
less than 3 -- F

1. Agreed. Likely. Apple always doing this kind of thing. I love it.

2. Agreed. Suprised it didn't happen in the 3G iPod.

3. Would be great and tough. Other claiming this appear to be lying (basically).

4. They have an "entry level" device that they cannot make fast enough. This will happen...but not until 2005.

5. Likely...but one wonders what for? Music? Not for most people. the 40GB is starting to hit the top of where most people are for music I suspect.

6. Seems possible/likely. I can't imagine using mine this way though. Apple might see it this way and leave it to the 3rd parties.

7. Agreed.

8. Magic 8-Ball says: "Outlook not so good"

9. YES! Make iPod a "platform" for developers!

10. Seem likely. Don't know much of the technology...but seems like a proper match.

11. Hmmm...I think yes...many others think no. I like the idea...especially as the HD gets bigger...how much music? What about photos, slide shows and video?

12. Also seems likely to happen given Airport Express.

13. Magic 8-Ball says: "Outlook not so good"

14. WiFi more likely.
post #29 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by TednDi
to that add a gsm/gprs phone capability because cellphones and portable music devices are converging rapidly


Wooaaaa Sport! Slow down here. How about a toaster...with an upsell for bagel toasting. iPod does music. I am (personally) mixed on the video stuff...but I can see that happening. Why do I want a GPS in my iPod?
post #30 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Wooaaaa Sport! Slow down here. How about a toaster...with an upsell for bagel toasting. iPod does music. I am (personally) mixed on the video stuff...but I can see that happening. Why do I want a GPS in my iPod?


You already do have a gps in your cell phone if you have gsm coverage. It is part (in the US) of the enhanced 911 system This allows law enforcement to find the phone in an emergency. This feature has been in effect for several years now. Privacy concerns asside, It can make for location based information streaming more usefull.

the chipset is small and uses very low power. Currently a cell phone manufacturer can buy a chipset with bluetooth, gsm/gprs and will operate worldwide on gsm networks.

Apple could market a 4g iphone with music features in the mini case.
post #31 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by TednDi
You already do have a gps in your cell phone if you have gsm coverage. It is part (in the US) of the enhanced 911 system This allows law enforcement to find the phone in an emergency. This feature has been in effect for several years now. Privacy concerns asside, It can make for location based information streaming more usefull.

I'm not sure about the GPS in the phones. I went round and round with a friend on this because I assumed the same. They need to be able to locate you...but I don't think it is actually using GPS.

Quote:
the chipset is small and uses very low power. Currently a cell phone manufacturer can buy a chipset with bluetooth, gsm/gprs and will operate worldwide on gsm networks.

But, it still uses power...and for a feature whose value I question. I guess I am wary of the "Swiss Army Knife" tendency that "feature creep" creates.

Quote:
Apple could market a 4g iphone with music features in the mini case.

They have already said they are not doing a phone...much as we might like them to.
post #32 of 88
I know that apple said they are not doing a phone. I am pointing out that phones and mp3 players are converging. Soon enough apple's prime competitors will be phones with mp3 players.

If you look at the ipod logic it is fitting into cars seamlessly. If you ipod/iphone your bmw then the steering wheel control will be all the more usefull. Add to the functionality a bluetooth wireless mic and it could work. Apple likes the car because that's a good place to listen to your music. Video I think is out for now from the ipod until the new quicktime codec comes out.

I think that feature creap is something that all appliances get anyway. With this logic we all would still be on
apple II+'s and the command line interface.

The ipod must evolve. Yes it commands a huge part of the market but that is where it is today. Tomorrow's ipod should be able to do more or another well designed unit will.
post #33 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Existence
To keep the iPod on the top, Apple needs to:

1. Shave off one or two more ounces from the regular iPod and the mini
2. Increase the buffer to 64MB for better playback of audio books
3. Increase battery life to 15-20 hours
4. Reduce cost and make an entry-level $150-$200 iPod
5. Larger capacity hard drives
6. Add a mic for use as a dictaphone
7. Higher quality inner-ear headphones
8. Support Ogg Vorbis playback
9. Launch an iPod SDK
10. OLED color screen
11. MPEG4 playback, H.264, with a mini s-video out port
12. Built-in Airport extreme with Rendezvous
13. AM/FM tuner
14. Bluetooth

1. The iPod, sure. The mini? That thing already feels almost insubstantial to me.

2. Yes.

3. Would be great, but this opposes most of your other requests.

4. Steve has gone on record saying that Apple is looking for ways to make the iPod less expensive. That'll become an issue when they they find that they can make them fast enough. Also, note that a lot of your other suggestions require more expensive components.

5. For what? The survey's in, and most people consider 1,000 songs to be perfectly OK. 60GB of audio will appeal to a relatively small group of people, so if the HDDs are going to get bigger, new uses have to be found for them. Also, bear in mind that high-capacity hard drives tend to be thicker and heavier, like the 40GB drive in the top-end (and larger, heavier) iPod.

6. Sure. I know people who'd love that.

7. Please. I trashed my original ones and bought a pair of Sony earbuds to tide me over until I could reorder a new set of the Apple buds. That was two months ago. I've never reordered.

8. The iPod apparently can't muster the horsepower to decode Ogg Vorbis. There've been Ogg fans working on this for a while, and they haven't gotten it to go yet. So this requires newer, more powerful guts — a substantial revision. The odds that Apple will do this to support Ogg Vorbis are essentially nil, but if they do it for some other reason with more mainstream appeal, I'm sure they'll throw in support as well.

9. Meh. Not yet.

10. Meh. Just remember that they're still trying to keep those from degrading after a few thousand hours.

11. See 8. Would be nice, but you're talking about computational heavy lifting that the current iPod couldn't even hope to attempt. Also, playback through a cable (probably through the dock connector) I can see; playback on the iPod's screen is just about pointless.

12. And you want the batteries to last how long again? You want the iPod running a networking stack and daemons while it's streaming H.264 and decoding Ogg Vorbis? It'll get there eventually (meaning: years), but that would represent a tremendous leap in the sophistication of the device.

13. Meh. The iPod replaces radio.

14. Sure, although again expect to pay a price in battery life.
"...within intervention's distance of the embassy." - CvB

Original music:
The Mayflies - Black earth Americana. Now on iTMS!
Becca Sutlive - Iowa Fried Rock 'n Roll - now on iTMS!
Reply
"...within intervention's distance of the embassy." - CvB

Original music:
The Mayflies - Black earth Americana. Now on iTMS!
Becca Sutlive - Iowa Fried Rock 'n Roll - now on iTMS!
Reply
post #34 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
I'm not sure about the GPS in the phones. I went round and round with a friend on this because I assumed the same. They need to be able to locate you...but I don't think it is actually using GPS.

That would be because it isn't. It uses your signal to separate signal towers to triangulate your position. This has also been available to the security organisations since well before September 11 too.
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post #35 of 88
I don't know about you guys, but sometimes I get tired of talking about what Apple needs to do. I'd be more interested in figuring out what they're going to do.

One thing it seems everyone has forgotten (or maybe it was proved incorrect, I don't know) is the Home on iPod feature. Many people seem to expect the iPod to continue developing as a platform, meaning that the iPod itself will become more and more like a small computer.

But, as many other people are quick to point out, the battery life and display size are inadequate for this purpose, and no talk of OLED and fuel cell batteries will persuade me that this is going to change soon.

I think it's more likely (at this point in the discussion) that Apple will develop the iPod into something more closely resembling an extensible storage device than a stand-alone platform. Remember this ?

I think Apple will be giving us something sort of like that. Except that in the case of the iPod, the processing power, USB, Firewire, etc. will not be part of the package. The iPod will only be providing storage. You'll have to find yourself a docking station (i.e. your computer or your friend's computer, or the computer in the lab at school) before you can start sharing and using your photos, videos, music, documents... whatever.

Remember... Apple is making the computer for the rest of your life. Phones and PDAs are already covered in the boring, hum-drum business world by *competent* people like Dell -- people who crank out a solid business machine without imagination for users who have none.

What say you?
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post #36 of 88
As much as I love looking at that girl on oqo's site, I think oqo is sooo overrated and not worthy of the attention (oddly it gets little real attention outside of MacPDA drool circles.

Huge frigging step back from the Newton 2100 although oqo has a buzzword checklist that should "make" it cool. But it's not, IMO.
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post #37 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by johnq
Huge frigging step back from the Newton 2100 although oqo has a buzzword checklist that should "make" it cool. But it's not, IMO.

I totally agree the thing is overrated (although I've not been around long enough to make Newton comparisons). I was thinking of the portability. I don't think anyone wants a dockable video editor in their pocket, but a dockable file server is something I know I'd be interested in.
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post #38 of 88
To me battery life is the biggest problem with the current iPod and the only thing that really has to be fixed. Longer life is a must.

Lower price would help it sell better but Apple has never been one for competing on price. I don't expect to see any changes here (Won't stop me wishing for it though).

Personally I would love an 80GB drive (to fit all my CDs in lossless format) but these aren't available yet and considering the demand for the iPod mini, it's not something most consumers seem to care about. A 60GB iPod on the top of the range soon though sounds highly likely to me but I don't see Apple focusing on high capacity iPods.

I expect to see some kind of wireless in the iPod in the future, especially considering the new Airport Express. Not sure if the technology will be good/cheap/low power enough to make the next iPod revision though. Bluetooth is right out...has anyone ever tried uploading a MP3 to a cellphone via Bluetooth?...far, far too slow. Music sharing concerns may also may make Apple hold back on wireless.

Firewire 800. I haven't seen anyone mention this but I expect the next high end models to support the faster firewire standard.

Ogg support? Maybe. It would be nice simply for another tick box on the consumer's checklist but I don't feel it's really hurting iPod sales at the moment. I'm sure Apple could get the current iPod to decode Ogg if they wanted despite processing power limitations.

Built in Radio? I can't see this happening. Does anyone really care about radio anymore? I don't know what things are like where everyone else here lives but nobody in my circle of friends listens to the radio anymore. A lack of radio doesn't seem to have hurt CD players over the years either.

Sound recording/encoding ability. I'd like to see this but I don't know if the demand is there. If I had to pick, I'd guess Apple won't do it. Still hope they do though.

Video features? Not next revision anyway that I can see.
post #39 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
4. They have an "entry level" device that they cannot make fast enough. This will happen...but not until 2005.

Last I checked they already have this.... its called the iPod Mini.

MacAddict16
post #40 of 88
Quote:
Firewire 800. I haven't seen anyone mention this but I expect the next high end models to support the faster firewire standard.

Theres no need for firewire 800.

Right now the limiting factor in transfer speeds is the hard drive itself. Its not fast enough.

Besides, very few people have firewire 800 on their computers.
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