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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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 Apple?s 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 Apple?s 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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 140
    Quote:

    Apple may eventually leverage the technology to help track stolen Macs or iPods.



    Ridiculous! That is not gonna happen!
  • Reply 2 of 140
    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 Apple?s 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!
  • Reply 3 of 140
    crees!crees! Posts: 501member
    GPS in the next iPod but not mentioned in the iPhone? iPhone must have GPS then.
  • Reply 4 of 140
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 140
    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
  • Reply 6 of 140
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Ridiculous! That is not gonna happen!



    and why not?
  • Reply 7 of 140
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,267member
    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
  • Reply 8 of 140
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,267member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 140
    awalawal Posts: 66member
    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".
  • Reply 10 of 140
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 140
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,521member
    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)
  • Reply 12 of 140
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,267member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 140
    rolorolo Posts: 686member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 140
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 140
    feynmanfeynman Posts: 1,087member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 140
    flounderflounder Posts: 2,674member
    I hope this happens, because it's exactly the iPod I want.
  • Reply 17 of 140
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 140
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 140
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 140
    willrobwillrob Posts: 203member
    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.
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