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Apple may ax next-gen HDD iPod in favor of all-flash models

post #1 of 141
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Apple Inc. may begin transitioning its flagship iPod models away from hard disk drive (HDD)-based storage and towards solid-state NAND flash memory by the end of year.

According to an "IT Hardware" report from Prudential Equity Group analyst Jesse Tortora, the move would pave the way for smaller form factor players, a more diverse model mix, and improvements to both battery life and durability.

"We believe that the video iPod transition from 1.8-inch hard disk drives to NAND flash memory may occur as soon as late 2007," Tortora wrote. "Our checks indicate that Apple is considering canceling its next generation HDD-based iPod design, with the form factor refresh involving a move to NAND flash memory."

The analyst said such a move would be consistent with Apples penchant for placing user experience ahead of cost concerns. He also noted that recent history supports the scenario, given the economics of a similar transition where Apple in late 2005 decided to move from the 1-inch hard drive based iPod mini to the NAND flash based iPod nano.

"Flash memory is clearly more expensive on a $/GB basis than hard disk drives," he wrote. "However, the late 2005 Nano transition to flash provides a guide as to the point at which the previously mentioned non-cost advantages of flash memory outweigh the cost premium."

Given that he sees flash storage capacities up to 32GB as being cost-feasible for the initial introduction of a new flash-based video iPod later this year, Tortora said the question becomes whether or not 32GB contains sufficient capacity to store video content.

"Apple currently offers 30GB and 80GB HDD-based models, and will have the option to increase storage capacity up to 120GB this year based on new perpendicular recording technology," he wrote. "While the higher capacities would allow for more video storage, we view battery life as the key consideration for a move to flash."

Tortora explained that a 30GB of HDD-based iPod is sufficient for around 40 hours of video content, but only has about 3.5 hours of battery life for video playback. He added that replacing the hard drive with flash memory would allow for an increase of about 60 percent in battery life to 5.5 hours of video playback.

In addition to the flash-based storage, the Prudential analyst believes other specifications of Apples next generation video iPod are will include a wider touch screen similar to that of iPhone, Wi-Fi to enable the transfer of digital content from Apple TV, and GPS functionality.

Tortora asserted that the addition of GPS functionality "should position the iPod as the central hub for all digital content (music, movies, GPS) in automobiles."

Indeed, one of the first reports on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard published by AppleInsider affirmed that the next-generation Apple OS would introduce a geographic mapping solution, dubbed "Maps," that would employ GPS functionally.

A second report, believed to be extremely accurate at the time of publication, cited people familiar with the software as saying Apple may eventually leverage the technology to help track stolen Macs or iPods.

Apple has yet to disclose the extent of Leopard's feature set, choosing instead to keep several enhancements "top secret" until a date closer to the software's release.
post #2 of 141
Quote:
Apple may eventually leverage the technology to help track stolen Macs or iPods.

Ridiculous! That is not gonna happen!

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post #3 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple Inc. may begin transitioning its flagship iPod models away from hard disk drive (HDD)-based storage and towards solid-state NAND flash memory by the end of year.

According to an "IT Hardware" report from Prudential Equity Group analyst Jesse Tortora, the move would pave the way for smaller form factor players, more diverse model mix, and both improved battery life and durability.

In addition to the flash-based storage, Tortora said other specifications of Apples next generation video iPod are expected to include a wider touch screen similar to that of iPhone, Wi-Fi to enable the transfer of digital content from Apple TV, and GPS functionality.

The analyst said the addition of GPS functionality "should position the iPod as the central hub for all digital content (music, movies, GPS) in automobiles."



Alright, first post! We now know what Zune 2G will attempt to be!

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #4 of 141
GPS in the next iPod but not mentioned in the iPhone? iPhone must have GPS then.
post #5 of 141
Not good for our household.
My wife (the iPod lover) wants even more storage. I think her preference would be for 200+ GB.
Movies. Lots of movies and TV shows.
post #6 of 141
I work for the firm that would have to provide the navigitable database to apple for this product and they are not a customer for such a product, nor would they be allowed to procure data from a vendor such as Garmin, etc
post #7 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Ridiculous! That is not gonna happen!

and why not?
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"i find that if you keep talkin', your mouth comes up with stuff..." Karl Pilkington
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post #8 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Ridiculous! That is not gonna happen!

Don't be so sure about that. Lo-Jack for cars works well enough.

With new GPS chips coming to market, and digital tech being what it is, I can see a unit being located by a transceiver querying for a serial number over the air, and receiving an answer back.

This would help to allow that:

http://www.u-blox.com/news/3GSM.html
post #9 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by menotyou View Post

I work for the firm that would have to provide the navigitable database to apple for this product and they are not a customer for such a product, nor would they be allowed to procure data from a vendor such as Garmin, etc

Means nothing.
post #10 of 141
I liked the idea brought up months ago of having a hybrid HDD/Flash based iPod.

All other challenges aside (form-factor, etc.) , I believe Apple would be able to improve the capacity-to-battery life issue in the near term while the flash technology continues to improve. For example, why couldn't iTunes automatically load the most played, most-recently played, and most-recently added songs/videos into the flash drive and keep everything else on the hard drive? Thus, they would minimize HDD use.

Furthermore, would it be more efficient to use part of the flash drive as a buffer to load a large movie all at once into flash to keep the HDD usage to a minimum?

Regardless, I think apple should figure something out to freshen up the iPod Video line before the end of 2007 "at the earliest".
post #11 of 141
Perhaps they could replace the low-end (currently 30 gig) ipod with flash, but I really can't see them using flash for the bigger one at this point.
post #12 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by menotyou View Post

I work for the firm that would have to provide the navigitable database to apple for this product and they are not a customer for such a product, nor would they be allowed to procure data from a vendor such as Garmin, etc

Google. (they have data and know how to search)
post #13 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

Perhaps they could replace the low-end (currently 30 gig) ipod with flash, but I really can't see them using flash for the bigger one at this point.

They would still need a 40 and an 80 Gb model.
post #14 of 141
I posted about all this on Monday. What took AI so long? The Tortora comment broke on CNBC Monday morning as Marvell was dropping in response since it makes the controller chips for the HDs used in the video iPods.
post #15 of 141
This is so silly as to be false. I have an 80 Gig iPod, but what I really need is 120 Gig right now. I'm sure I'm not alone. And Apple makes good money off of its large capacity iPods. And the space taken up by the drives does not affect user experience.
Jim Hillhouse
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Jim Hillhouse
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post #16 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

Perhaps they could replace the low-end (currently 30 gig) ipod with flash, but I really can't see them using flash for the bigger one at this point.

Exactly. I do not see them as moving backwards in storage. If anything they will increase storage as so they could better promote movies....

I for one would like a 100 GB iPod so that I could have a great combo of games, movies, music and podcasts. Right now with the largest flash drive being 64 GBs, this would be a step down from what Apple currently offer.
post #17 of 141
I hope this happens, because it's exactly the iPod I want.
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post #18 of 141
I think converting the upper model iPod to flash is inevitable, but I don't think the next generation would have it, just because of the costs of flash vs. the 1.8" hard drives. Maybe the 7th generation.
post #19 of 141
I guess I'm the only one out there who would prefer a larger iPod for storing all his music and video content in one place... 250 gigs would be nice.
post #20 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianMojo View Post

I guess I'm the only one out there who would prefer a larger iPod for storing all his music and video content in one place... 250 gigs would be nice.

I don't think that battle can be won. By the time a 250GB model is viable, I would bet that your media collection would be in the terabyte range.
post #21 of 141
I've asked this before but have never gotten a response. Are Flash based RAIDs possible? If so, then two or more 35G flash drives could provide expanded storage for future Flash based iPods.
post #22 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I don't think that battle can be won. By the time a 250GB model is viable, I would bet that your media collection would be in the terabyte range.

I agree with you. This is exactly why I don't believe Apple would release a new generation product with a lesser amount of storage and kill the higher storage model. They may come out with an iPhone - phone product with more NAND capacity, but until they could build a >80GB affordable NAND model I don't think the HDD models are going anywhere.
post #23 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

Google. (they have data and know how to search)

They would have to brand it with google and enter into some sort of profit sharing agreement (much like the phone I assume). Which coudl be done, seeing the current configuration of the board of Directors on Apple....

Globally, there are only 2 companies that could provide coverage of the type that Apple would want if it had such a device, and to be successfull and as reliable as google/mapquest they would probally blend data from both companies into a uniform product. The 'Maps' program possibly included in the upcomming version of osx (and the Ipod discussed in this thread) would most likely make use of google maps if it exists and they would cover it with a skin. Which sounds kind of worthless, considering a quick trip to google maps would do the same thing (and you woudl have to be connected to the internet anyways).

Futhermore, not all area's of the globe are covered reliably and Apple sells globally (take google earth to South Africa, Australia northern coast for a test) and the second a product was launched by Apple that contained this many holes, it would provide fodder for blogs, Windows marketing, and this site to blast Apple for being wrong, when technically it is not them who are making the actual data- just creating a portal for another companies database and end-product.
post #24 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by menotyou View Post

I work for the firm that would have to provide the navigitable database to apple for this product and they are not a customer for such a product, nor would they be allowed to procure data from a vendor such as Garmin, etc

I don't understand what you mean.
post #25 of 141
I too want a 100gb widescreen ipod. I don't even care if it's done by shrinking the click and pushing it down a-la zune. Something like that would be very useful to me over the next year for movies and music on the go. Reducing capacity is not an option for me.

maybe they could try flash in the 30gb model but would the even be able to keep the price the same or would it go up? If it could be the same it'd be cool and make for a smart trial before they move that capacity up the chain.

Effectively making 2 different video ipods.
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post #26 of 141
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Originally Posted by willrob View Post

I've asked this before but have never gotten a response. Are Flash based RAIDs possible? If so, then two or more 35G flash drives could provide expanded storage for future Flash based iPods.

That's an excellent question and would be really interesting.
But how much would that up the cost?
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post #27 of 141
I DON'T give a crap about video. It's the music stupid (to quote a familiar Amercian Political phrase). My 80GB iPod is FULL with over 19,000+ songs. Bring on a 100, 120, 200 GB iPod so I can get more of my music loaded!!!!!! PLEEZE NOT SMALLER!
post #28 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Tortora said the question becomes whether or not 32GB contains sufficient capacity to store video content.

Why wouldn't it? How much video do you really need to carry with you at all times? With h.264, I can compress video to 720x388 near-DVD quality at 700MB for two hours. An iPod won't need that kind of resolution, so it should be able to hold much more, maybe 50% more video at 576 pixels wide, still good enough for watching on a regular screen up to 20" or so and more than enough for an iPod's display. So assuming 500MB for two hours, you're talking 128 hours of video on a 32GB iPod. I don't think I need to carry that much.
post #29 of 141
I know for me I also need a bigger ipod. Currently have a 60GB Photo but all full with just music. I might use video once in a great while but in encoding all of my music in lossless has it over 150GB and I'm still re-ripping my cd's. It's also the reason I only use itms for an instant gratification thing. Never the whole album as 128k is not even close to adequate. Really wish they'd change that to get whatever bit rate I want even if it cost me just a bit more.
post #30 of 141
Having flash instead of HD is one of the few things that would make me swap my 60Gb for something new. I don't need any more features, but a smaller form factor would be nice. Crossing fingers for a 64GB one (32GB would be too small), but I think we'll be lucky to even see that size in 2008, certainly not in 2007.
post #31 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

Perhaps they could replace the low-end (currently 30 gig) ipod with flash, but I really can't see them using flash for the bigger one at this point.

Totally agree. there is a market for large capacity iPods and this analysis doesn't look past video playback as a use. I use my 60G iPod for large file transfer and transporting some favourite apps as well as music - it's not even video capable and I wouldn't want to go to a smaller option.
post #32 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by willrob View Post

I've asked this before but have never gotten a response. Are Flash based RAIDs possible? If so, then two or more 35G flash drives could provide expanded storage for future Flash based iPods.

This is exactly the question I had. I don't care if 32Gb Flash is the max -- if you can RAID 4 of them together to make a 128Gb "drive".

Lower battery usage would be nice. Imagine a video iPod with 20 hours of Battery?

Flash is slower than HDD, right? Hopefully it isn't slow enough to be an impact for video...
post #33 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Ridiculous! That is not gonna happen!

I don't see why not. There is no privacy problem to worry about.

It could work something like this:

The first time that the iPod connects to iTunes, and thus Apple, then Apple will tell the iPod that it's been stolen or lost. If stolen the iPod tell Apple where it is and starts tracking when it goes and everytime it reconnects to iTunes it reports back to Apple all the locations. All this without the theif being notified. You then get the notification and can release the information so it can be sent to the police.

If you just lost the iPod then a message could be displayed on the iPod screen teling the finder to call a toll free number so it can be returned. If they fail to call within say 5 days it then becomes a stolen iPod.

Just a thought.
post #34 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by csi95 View Post

This is exactlyFlash is slower than HDD, right? Hopefully it isn't slow enough to be an impact for video...

Wrong. NAND is much faster than HDD. If it wasn't, Intel wouldn't be trying to incorporate NAND as a boot/OS drive in laptops.
post #35 of 141
I have a 10 GB iPod and would need a 20 GB.
Someone's got a 30 GB and need a 60 GB.
The next fellow has an 80 GB and would prefer a 200 GB.
But of course! Isn't everyone's iPod is full all the time?

Changing to flash based storage prematurely would be Apple style indeed. Stevie would take the stage and tell us that they're "the first to introduce a 32GB flash based music player ever". He would go on and say that "we discovered that most people's iPods are always full. But not because they need it to be, but because they can fill it up." If an iPod was 500 GB it would be full too. But there would be material on the ipod for viewing and listening several months straight!
I say go for flash! 32GB is cool for me. Perhaps they realized their 30 GB model of today is outselling the 80 GB model and decided it's time?
2 years from now flash will start to match up in capacity and price anyway.
post #36 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by csi95 View Post

This is exactly the question I had. I don't care if 32Gb Flash is the max -- if you can RAID 4 of them together to make a 128Gb "drive".

Why would anybody RAID together multiple 32G flash drives intead of simply hanging 128G worth of flash memory chips off of a single flash file system controller?

I think the 32G "limit" described is a limit only in terms of price and physical space within an iPod's shell.
post #37 of 141
It is OK to base most models on Flash rather than HD, which makes sense. But please, Apple, keep at least one high end model with maximum capacity. I am eagerly waiting to buy a few 120GB iPods, and in fact that is still way too small for me. I wish there were 300-500GB iPods already. I can fill them easily, and I am sure others can too...
post #38 of 141
Am I the only person in the world who thinks it's utterly ridiculous to store your entire movie, picture, and music collection on a fragile portable device?

I realize that the process of actually changing your playlists and removing content you don't use anymore once every couple of weeks or so may be too cumbersome and baffling for some, but get over it! The hard drive was never designed to be bounced around continuously in your pocket. I'm ready for the transition to solid state hardware and better battery life.

Personally, I'm waiting for the day when the hard drive is completely obsolete. I've seen way too many hard drive crashes and heard too many horror stories of people losing a lot of work to them.
 
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post #39 of 141
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Originally Posted by jmdecombe@gmail.com View Post

I wish there were 300-500GB iPods already. I can fill them easily, and I am sure others can too...

Unfortunately, the drives don't exist, and I don't think many people would want to buy an extra-large iPod with a 3.5" hard drive in it (and the accompanying battery needed to run it for 8-12 hours).
post #40 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

I realize that the process of actually changing your playlists and removing content you don't use anymore once every couple of weeks or so may be too cumbersome and baffling for some, but get over it!

Translation: "I don't need one, so everybody who thinks they do is insane, stupid, or in dire need of re-education".

Well thank you very much. Remind me to vote for someone else when the ballot goes around to elect a god.
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