Thursday, September 06, 2007

New iPods - Oh My

Greetings from Typhoon Central! We are taking a direct hit from typhoon #9 (they are numbered in Japan) in a few hours. Since I'm inland, it won't be so bad.

Stayed up last night to watch the product intros. Most of you probably know the basic details. So, I'll give you my take.

iTunes Ringtones for iPhone
Apple is making it possible for folks to use parts of or make their own ring tones from their purchased iTunes audio content. $0.99 per pop.

The Good

Apparently, this price is cheaper than usual ringtones. (I wouldn't know, as I wouldn't pay much for something like that).

The Bad
Wait a minute - don't we already own these songs?

The Ugly
Profiteering at it's worst. First, they want us to pay for the songs TWICE. Second, isn't the whole purpose of a music phone to be able to use your own music however you like on the phone? It's inconceivable Apple would hose its customers as such. My bet is that ringtones sales are lack luster.

3G Nano "phatty"
Stubby design with wider screen (2"), can now play vids. Kinda like a sawed off 5G iPod. Curves of the nano and the new iPod classic remind me of those old Airstream metallic trailers.

The Good
Can play vids, comes with 3 free games, same price points. Coverflow (if you like that nonsense).

The Bad
Screen horribly small for vids, same size options.

The Ugly
The stubby wide design is fugly to some. The new colors for nano and shuffles are gawd awful over all.

iPod Classic
5G design goes to higher capacities and 'Airstream' stylings.

The Good
180Gb upper size option! Thinner than predecessors. Coverflow. Relatively cheap.

The Bad
Lack of imagination in this design. Apple sticks with the old form factor that was successful, but horribly out of date at present day.

The Ugly
Can't justify the purchase of this for video viewing. The old classic was too small for viewing vids and this one is no different. This design should have been flushed in favor of migrating entire line to iPod Touch (see below).

iPod Touch
New iPod based on iPhone with multi-touch screen interface, but lacking phone functions.

The Good
Gorgeous styling, thin and relatively light weight, has WiFi that can be used with a Safari browser, iTunes store, and Starbucks iTunes store. 20 hour audio play time, 5 hour video time. PDA-like functions, 3.5 inch screen which shifts into landscape mode when you turn the phone. Only real iPod option for viewing movies. We've waited too long for this, Apple.

The Bad
8 & 16Gb only! For the perfect movie iPod, one would expect more storage so we can cram more vid content. Even without video, 16Gb is way to small for many people's audio collection, forcing us to choose between the piss-poor screen Classic and the piss-poor storage Touch. Perhaps the cost and availability of flash memory is the reason for this. Or perhaps the added size from a real hard drive would make it less sexy. Price is a bit steep at $400

The Ugly
Nothing really ugly here. I've pre-ordered mine already, and expect it the first week of October. :-)

I do have questions about whether you can see flash and java content via the browser, as well as pdf files. And doing webmail (gmail!) would rock, but wonder if that will fly.

iPhone Price Changes
Apple decreases 8Gb phone $200 and 4Gb phone drops off the map.

I could care less about this, however, as we aren't gonna see this phone here in Japan for a while. The Touch is the best we can get. It would suck if you bought the 8 gigger at $600 - but you probably have the money to throw away anyway if you bought that.

No Beatles Catalog on iTunes
To be honest, I could care even less about this. The Mac media have spent too much time fretting and fanning the fires over this. We can get Beatles content from other places, ya know. And the iTunes store has survived long enough without it.

I would give Apple an overall grade of B- for this event. Improving nanos is fine, though I question the utility of such a small screen. Boosting the 5G iPods (iPod Classic) without changing the form factor is a horrible mistake. This old horse should have been put to pasture long ago. The shining star of the announcement is the iPod Touch, which makes up for much of the other iPod line. Let's hope that capacities for this increase substantially in the next year.


Jason said...

The iPod classic comes in a max size of 160gb, not 18gb.

I haven't seen the new classic design in person yet, but I love it from what I've seen online. Much like Mercedes, Porsche and BMW, when you have a classic design, you don't radically change it. You just make small refinements to it, and people still buy it because the original design is just timeless. Same with the Alu Powerbook and now MacBook Pro.

So you already ordered an iPod touch?? Did you actually go to a store and touch one yet to check it out??

Maybe I'll get an 80gb iPod classic in silver.

umijin said...

I ordered through the Apple Japan page just after the store went up again. I was fortunate to figure out the Kanji. :-) But your point is taken, that I'm going in blind.

As for the classic - no doubt the design WAS successful. But I'm afraid for videos its screen is inadequate. Way too small. Other major media player manufacturers have moved on to larger screens for their mixed format players. Apple should also have moved on to something else - maybe a wide format screen.

The Touch appeals to me b/c I can actually see a video at a size that's acceptable. The negative is the limited storage.