iPod chief not keen on iPod and cell phone convergence

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple senior vice president and executive team member Jon Rubinstein does not believe in digital device convergence theories, which suggests that the iPod, cell phone, and digital camera are on a collision course with each other and a single unified device.



"Is there a toaster that can also brew coffee?," quipped the iPod chief during an interview with Germany's Berline Online. Answering his own question, Rubinstein explains that no such device exists because it would not provide any benefits over an individual toaster and coffee machine.



"Many companies believe in [the convergence theory], but I personally do not," said Rubinstein. "It's important to have specialized devices."



In fact, Rubinstein believes the iPod, cell phone, and digital camera will all continue to thrive in their individual markets for at least another decade. "Most people still take photographs with their digital camera rather than their cellphone," he says. "And there's a simple reason: digital cameras take better pictures."



Asked whether Apple has considered a reentry in PDA market by evolving the iPod into such a device, both Rubinstein and Apple vice president Phil Schiller (who also sat in the interview) seemed strongly opposed.



"PDA's would not be good business for Apple," Schiller said, explaining that PDAs are a niche market for specialized applications. Basic functions of PDAs, such as date planners and address books, have long been available on most cell phones "and now the iPod," added Rubinstein.



Likewise, Rubinstein and Apple appear weary of investing their energies in the cell phone handset market beyond the iTunes phones being made available from Motorola. "It's a concern," said Rubinstein, "because the Motorola phone is no replacement for the iPod." Instead, the company plans to wait out the response to the first iTunes phones to see the market's reaction.



Recently analysts have called for Apple to consider its own foray into the cell phone market, which stands 13 times larger than the digital music player market, with an estimated 774 million cell phones to be sold this year.



"On the iTunes phone I can load 100 tunes," said Rubinstein ."However, with the iPod my whole music collection becomes mobile."



One thing Rubinstein is not concerned about is iPod market share suddenly eroding like that of the Sony's Walkman, which sold over 340 million units in the 80s and 90s.



"The iPod is substantially more difficult to copy than the Walkman was," he claims. "It's a whole ecological system of different elements which coordinate with each-other precisely: the iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store and Internet."



Humorous update: It took our lovely readers only minutes to locate several toasters which, yes, actually do brew coffee as well.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    He's wrong.



    There are phones with cameras that are good enough for 4x6 prints today, and they will only get better. A dedicated camera will always be superior, just like a dedicated iPod will always be superior, but unless one is comfortable carrying all three with them at all times, there is benefit to having a phone with these features.



    This is why there is no coffee making toaster. If both devices were portable and both shared a large number of similar components, they would be merged.



    The ROCKR sucks because it was designed to suck. Give it a 2mp camera and it would compete with low end digital cameras. Remove the artifical iTunes restrictions and it would start to compete with the iPod.



    Apple, design a real iPhone and I would *easily* pay $500+ for it.
  • Reply 2 of 36
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,737member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by AppleInsider

    "Most people still take photographs with their digital camera rather than their cellphone," he says. "And there's a simple reason: digital cameras take better pictures."





    Right, but if you could have a cell phone which could take pictures as good as a digital camera, then wouldn't you rather carry around 1 device rather than 2?



    I think that he's correct for now simply because there isn't an all-in-one device which does everything well enough ("well enough" being the key phrase there). But I know that personally, I hate carrying around 3 different devices just so that I can answer calls, listen to music, and take decent quality pictures on a whim. 4 if you want to play decent quality video games or watch movies.



    I think that it's very possible to create a good all-in-one device today which is a reasonable size, but that there's more money to be made off of selling devices (and related services) individually. It'd take a company which doesn't already have a vested interest in keeping things this way to do it, but then they would likely have a hard time partnering with existing service providers who are already partnered with other companies who want to hold on to their specialized market.



    So it'll take a very large company with enough industry influence (ie. one who also owns or funds service providers) to do it. And that'll take a while -- around a decade sounds about right.



    Anyways, I don't agree with him that convergence theories are wrong. People want an all-in-one device because it will take up less space and simplify their lives. Maintaining and keeping multiple devices in sync with each other is just a pain.
  • Reply 3 of 36
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Converged devices will *always* lag behind the dedicated devices. That's just the way it goes. Sure, a 2MP camera in a cell phone is good enough for many things, but the bar keeps getting bumped up.



    Basically, take the suite of devices you want to integrate. Select 70% of the features from each, 50% if you want the final unit to be as small as any one of the original ones. That's your converged unit.



    So in that sense, yes, universal convergence is a red herring... but as shown in the marketplace, sometimes 50% is good enough, ala cell phones with cameras.



    Personally, I don't understand the phone fetish myself, but that's just me. The interface is clunky as hell, and the whole infrastructure is a mess. Drop back to a simple idea of 'communication', and I'm with you, but why it has to be a *phone*, I have no clue.
  • Reply 4 of 36
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,737member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kickaha

    but why it has to be a *phone*, I have no clue.



    Because then you can charge people for phone service, and charge extra for internet service, and then even more for online gaming service. Add to that text messaging service, music service, ringtones, streaming video service, etc, etc. The cell phone is the only device I know of where you are charged almost every time you press a button on it.
  • Reply 5 of 36
    Thank goodness for some sense at Apple. I agree with Jon Rubinstein 100%!!!! Come on folks -- a multifunction printer/copier/scanner/fax machine is never as good as standalone units that do the same thing. Jon Rubinstein is right, folks! Convergence devices will *NEVER* be as good as one of the single items that they're trying to emulate.
  • Reply 6 of 36
    The majority of consumers buy a phone to make phone calls. They buy a toaster to make toast, but oddly, they buy these multifunction printer/scanner/faxes to print documents. The extra features rarely get used. Convergence devices have their place, but not in the mainstream mindset.



    (remember, I said "majority" -- there are always exceptions)
  • Reply 7 of 36
    He's full of crap. If an iPod phone were AS GOOD as an iPod and a phone I personally would rather carry around one unit instead of two. What does he say about the convergence of the CPU with the display? (iMac) You only use toasters and coffee makers once a day. You use a cell phone and iPod all the time.
  • Reply 8 of 36
    everybody is right so far, to a certain extent.



    convergenge is ncessary to inflitrate new markets and please the ones that only need a few functions from each device, thus reducing what needs to be carried.



    after a convergenge fever pasas the only ones alive are usually the dedicated devices. for instance, the mutlti use toater brewer....it will never achive mass market. and after the fever passes toasters will be toaster, and brewers will be brewers.



    do not mix convergence with added features.



    for instace an ipod can remain an ipod, but added functionalites are needed to differentite and stay ahead. otherwise they be dead by the time the next generation is out.



    the nano was an expample that there is still room to go, and speacila features to be inluded before the convergence starts.



    the nano is an expample of a product that appeals to a certain niche, but can get mass acceptace.

    you can't take all your music everywhere....but you can take you nano everywhere thanks to it's size.



    and as that guy said. there would be no nano if itunes wasen't so efficinent at sysncing those few songs.
  • Reply 9 of 36
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,737member
    Keep one thing in mind -- the computer would never have become as ubiquitous as it has if it wasn't so "open" in it's design. Would you rather have one device which you use to check email, another to surf the web, another to create documents?



    Even if putting together all the parts necessary to create a good all-in-one device would make it too expensive for the average consumer, I'm sure that designing it with one or two built-in functions, but leaving it open so that "add-ons" can be plugged in as needed (as was done with the PC), would make it cost effective enough for the average consumer and still allow for convergence.
  • Reply 10 of 36
    OK people, lets separate convergence of portable devices from convergence of other stuff....

    Now, also, convergence means convergent, do-it-all devices deliver less quality than dedicated devices. I can agree on this when where talking about digital cameras

    But were talking about a bloody mp3-player!!!

    Build the shuffle hardware into a phone, now how is that gonna perform any less than a dedicated shuffle?? It has to play music, that's it!!

    The same argument holds true for the nano. Yes, there is room for a clever designer to put a click wheel on a phone. Unlock the clickwheel and "poof" the screen displays the iPod menu. Voila, a fully functional iPod in a phone.

    Right now my iPod often stays at home while my mobile phone is always in my pocket or bag. Sometimes this means I don't have my iPod with me while I wish I had.

    Just waiting for apple to make this a reality, cause i do want iTunes/ITMS/iCal integration.
  • Reply 11 of 36
    I feel like apple's wrong on this one.



    Yes, Rubinstein says:



    "Is there a toaster that can also brew coffee?,"... Answering his own question, Rubinstein explains that no such device exists because it would not provide any benefits over an individual toaster and coffee machine.



    Unless he's in the habit of carrying his toaster and coffee machine WITH him when he leaves the house, his example is totally off the mark.



    Maybe what i'd most like to see is apple build a better cellphone. Maybe if they'd come up with a scheme for that, they'd be more ready to enter the market. Maybe they don't see opportunities to improve on present ease-of-use. Maybe there aren't such opportunities. At a minimum, if the iPods work so well with Address Book and iCal, I'd like to see more Apple material boasting of that extended functionality and...well...convergence.



    terry
  • Reply 12 of 36
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kickaha

    Converged devices will *always* lag behind the dedicated devices. That's just the way it goes. Sure, a 2MP camera in a cell phone is good enough for many things, but the bar keeps getting bumped up.



    But the base remains the same. A 2MP camera phone can take pictures that print 4x6 that look great, and that's the sweet spot. As the bar rises, you get things like zoom, depth of field, better optics and so forth, but the base remains constant (actually it will increase, but not as much as the low-end technology).



    Quote:

    Personally, I don't understand the phone fetish myself, but that's just me. The interface is clunky as hell, and the whole infrastructure is a mess. Drop back to a simple idea of 'communication', and I'm with you, but why it has to be a *phone*, I have no clue.



    The phone is the one device that people more and more are not seeing as being optional when going places and are seeing more and more as a must have product. This is why people see convergence as adding things to the phone as opposed to adding phone capabilities to other things. And the interface/infrastructure allows for some pretty cool things for sending pictures, ordering prints and sending them to your computer
  • Reply 13 of 36
    bergzbergz Posts: 1,045member
    I agree with DutchPear.



    Toasters and CoffeeMakers both make food but they make them in different ways. And you are not pinched for space in the pantry.



    A phone has a display to show you info, buttons on the face for input and has the transmission of audio as its principal function.



    Sounds like an ipod. It wouldn't be convergence, it would be economy.



    --B
  • Reply 14 of 36
    Quote:

    Originally posted by scotty321

    Thank goodness for some sense at Apple. I agree with Jon Rubinstein 100%!!!! Come on folks -- a multifunction printer/copier/scanner/fax machine is never as good as standalone units that do the same thing. Jon Rubinstein is right, folks! Convergence devices will *NEVER* be as good as one of the single items that they're trying to emulate.



    Yeah, but adding radio and voice notes to an iPod isn't about obscure multifunctioning convergence of several desparate devices, it is adding useful functionality to a device that is already all about audio storage and delivery.



    It is like having a toaster that toasts bread AND bagels. You can have an iPod be your pocket audio center without turning it into a phone and camera.



    Edit: Err...yeah, what bergz said.
  • Reply 15 of 36
    The pda thing may become moot as Palm makes its Faustian agreements with Microsoft. Eventually only WinCE or whatever will live on the palmtop and anyone who wants a Palm or handpc will HAVE to go with Windows. That is not an insignificant market, even if it is mature and aging.



    As for cameras on phones, they are still too much of a cash cow for phone companies that unless you can send them basically to friends for free, they are going to remain niche. Just like the record companies fighting legal downloads, the phone companies are shooting themselves in the foot. People will always want cameras, but quick phone photos would be a relevant selling point if they became standard enough such that everyone would have one. That is the strategy Apple employed with USB and dropping the floppy and making every iPod and Mac pretty much capable of doing pretty much everything.
  • Reply 16 of 36
    just because apple says it doesn't mean it's true.





    ...the multi button is too confusing...



    mighty mouse released.





    ...no one wants a inexpensive headless mac...



    mac mini released.





    ...ppc is the best...



    apple switches to intel.





    when apple releases the iphone, their attitude will change like the above.



    apple says things for it's own benefit not necessarily because it is right or what people want.



    chung lee
  • Reply 17 of 36
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    People please. Rubenstein and Schiller work for Apple. Their public statements are there to support Apple's position at a particular point in time. Apple see's no way of making big splash in a commodotised market of compromised multipurpose do-hickies, ergo 'they are not a good idea'. I have no doubt however that Apple is very interested in the mobile phone market and is carefully building expertise in that area.



    I think alot of people are simply fed up with the whole nonsense of mobiles. An Apple phone with simple clear design and interface; iCal, AddressBook and iTunes; NO camera; would sell like the proverbial. The problem is as it was with the record companies - careful and difficult negotiations are required with a bunch of very big and wary companies around the world; Apple's network needs to be global, multilayered and simple to use; unique in other words.
  • Reply 18 of 36
    Quote:

    Originally posted by vinney57

    People please. Rubenstein and Schiller work for Apple. Their public statements are there to support Apple's position at a particular point in time. Apple see's no way of making big splash in a commodotised market of compromised multipurpose do-hickies, ergo 'they are not a good idea'. I have no doubt however that Apple is very interested in the mobile phone market and is carefully building expertise in that area.





    I agree with this and Actions comments (above). Nothing is set in stone. Better than releasing an iPhone right off the bat, they have the iTunes Motorola phone to test the market with and analyze the results.



    I don't think it's going to happen for a long time (maybe a few years), but I truly wish Apple would make a phone that could hold a marginal amount of songs (a thousand would be nice). At $500, think of how many people would want to buy it even at such a high price tag. Just look at the RAZR when it was released.



    An iPhone wouldn't even compete with the rest of the iPod line. The regular iPod, the nano, and the Shuffle could still sell among the iPhone (at least until the price drops). The iPhone would be a luxury gadget.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by macslut

    The phone is the one device that people more and more are not seeing as being optional when going places and are seeing more and more as a must have product. This is why people see convergence as adding things to the phone as opposed to adding phone capabilities to other things. And the interface/infrastructure allows for some pretty cool things for sending pictures, ordering prints and sending them to your computer



    I think you missed the point.



    Explain to me why it has to be a device with a numeric keypad as the primary input, and an assortment of random buttons slapped on that have no coherent interface?



    I think we can all agree that one of the biggest reasons the iPod is so bloody easy to use is the wheel. Where, on a phone, are you going to put the wheel? Look at the ROKR - no wheel. ie, second-rate iPod functionality.



    That's the sort of second-rate devices I mean when you start talking convergence. Each device has its own set of constraints, *especially* when it comes to the UI. Sometimes those UI constraints directly oppose one another, or are simply so different that trying to work them all in is untenable.



    All of the opportunities afforded by the telephony infrastructure have *JACK* to do with the physical device looking like the phone as we know it. That's what I don't get, why everyone wants to start with a numeric keypad and tiny screen as the basis for all portable devices.
  • Reply 20 of 36
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    I don't think it matters what Apple thinks or what some of their PR jerks say, Steve included, and I'd take it as a kindness if people didn't drink that kool-aid. Steve said several times, some times probably as early as a year ago, that no one wanted a flash-based audio player. Now they make up two thirds of their audio player line.



    There will be a market for "converged" devices and there will be a market for specialized devices. There are merits to both, and I think it should be up to the consumer to decide. If they don't want to offer those options in good faith then they might have to play catch-up. Then again, I'm pretty sure they are just doing a smoke-and-mirrors thing trying to distract people from seeing that they are going that way anyway.
Sign In or Register to comment.