Can Apple Keep Stalling a 6G iPod? Our Views, and Yours | iLounge Article


Can Apple Keep Stalling a 6G iPod? Our Views, and Yours

To placate the masses of people hungry for a “video iPod,” Apple released the fifth-generation iPod in October 2005, then modestly refreshed it in September of 2006. Though its battery life for video playback has improved, users have never been fully satisfied with the squint-inducing size of its screen - a factor that led Apple to announce a larger, “widescreen iPod” feature for its upcoming iPhone. But as a consequence of iPhone’s introduction, many believe that Apple will wait until after the iPhone’s June launch to announce a standalone iPod with a similar screen.

Since everyone’s expecting that a sixth-generation, widescreen iPod will eventually be released, we asked our editors three questions: what do you think will happen? What should happen? And is Apple becoming too slow with updates its customers want and expect?

Below, you’ll find our answers to these questions, and more. Please add your thoughts to the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Bob Levens, Contributing Editor, United Kingdom: “I am finding myself feeling rather lukewarm about the prospects of the next iPod. Why? Hopefully Apple will release the 6G iPod ASAP with a touchscreen and slick interface as used on the iPhone. If we have to wait until the iPhone has debuted, then that’s going to be a long gap, for those of us living outside of the US, for a new iPod-related product. What will they launch to keep us quiet until then?

As long as the 6G has a decent battery life - maybe even break the mold and have a removable battery - a large sized display, with perhaps an option to increase the size of the text displayed for those who wear reading glasses, then anything else is probably going to be unused by me. The iPod, for me, is a portable music device, and if it will hold my library I am happy.”

Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief, United States: “When the fifth-generation iPod was introduced, there was a collective ‘oh, okay’ rather than a ‘wow’ from the crowd, and I don’t think anyone expected that we’d all be stuck with a 2.5-inch screen as our best iPod video option for this long. The continued absence of a replacement has, in my view, comforted and encouraged those who would suggest that Apple’s more concerned about marketing than brilliant technology - the sort of perception that can harm a company’s goodwill and possibly stunt its growth. I’d partially blame the iPhone for this: my gut feeling is that Apple is so concerned with the impact of new iPod launches on eventual iPhone sales that it’s going to risk continued domination of one market just to have a shot at a 1% share of another market. History will decide whether that was a wise or foolish choice; I really hope that Apple will put the horse in front of the cart again and focus its attention on releasing better iPods, sooner.

To be clear, I want a widescreen 6G iPod much more than I want an iPhone. As excited as I am about the iPhone’s design, 8GB of storage capacity and a shared phone/media battery mean that it won’t be a replacement for my full-sized iPod. Every single person I know who hasn’t yet bought an iPod has been holding out for the much-fabled ‘widescreen video iPod,’ and most of them are not going to buy into the iPhone because it’s not priced right for their budgets, or the features aren’t what they needed. They’re not going to change their minds just because the iPhone’s out and the 6G’s not: they’re going to wait until the right device emerges at the right price, and purchase it. If Microsoft or Sony offers something close to what people are expecting, at the right price, they just might jump on that instead.”

Larry AngellL.C. Angell, Senior Editor, United States: “I’ve never seen a company stretch out a product’s life cycle like Apple has done with the fifth-generation iPod. Even though sales haven’t exactly slowed to a crawl, it has definitely been Apple’s most unexciting iPod for a while now. That said, the 5G iPod becoming long in the tooth was caused by the extended development of the iPhone—Apple didn’t want to steal any of the iPhone’s thunder by introducing a widescreen iPod beforehand. And Apple still doesn’t want to. I wouldn’t expect a widescreen video iPod until right before Christmas this year. Apple is going to give the iPhone the spotlight as long as it possibly can before the mob of angry iCustomers come knocking at the door of Apple HQ demanding a phone-less widescreen iPod.”

Dennis Lloyd, Publisher, United States: “Although I am very content with my 5G, I wouldn’t mind a larger screen for in-flight movies. It will happen and I think it will come some time after the iPhone (June) is unleashed on the public. It’s a long overdue update. We’ve heard the rumors for a very long time - a 5G case with full screen and touch screen controls a la iPhone. It will reinvigorate the iPod economy; accessory makers will have an entirely new device to develop for. Many wanted the 6G yesterday, but I think the wait will be worth it. Hold on to your hats, because it’s going to be an exciting ride this year.”

Jesse Hollington, Contributing Editor, Canada: “I think it’s important to remember that the net-savvy, tech-savvy crowd is generally not representative of the whole iPod user base. I suspect the silent majority of iPod owners are very happy with the current 5G and many may have only the vaguest idea that something else is on the horizon. While Apple has taken a long time between updates here, with the ‘Enhanced 5G’ being an obvious mid-cycle release intended to buy some extra time, the 5G iPod still seems to be selling quite well, particularly to the crowd that is looking primarily for a music player. Commentary in our own Discussion Forums indicates that there’s actually a large number of people who are almost dreading what the 6G iPod may become after seeing the iPhone. People who want a device that is primarily a music player are still very much attracted to the Click Wheel design of the current iPod, and are frequently only looking for a higher-capacity device, not one with extra bells and whistles. I personally suspect that the device that ultimately debuts as the next-generation iPod will be sufficiently revolutionary to justify the length of time since the last update.”

Christina Easton, Contributing Editor, United States: “Apple’s next move will undoubtably be to introduce a widescreen iPod. I think that it would be in Apple’s best interest to offer something comparable to or better than the iPhone for the iPod line, because the iPod line needs to have some kind of feature that positively distinguishes it from the iPhones. I love the current fifth-generation iPod; I keep wanting bigger and better versions, having started with a mini and then moved up to the fifth-generation, 60GB model, I’m ready for the next iPod right now. I would love to have something with better battery life and a less scratchable screen.

Apple really should have announced the widescreen iPod before the iPhone. Everyone has been waiting for a better-screened iPod for a long time, and it won’t just bring in new customers. People who have been holding out on replacing old iPods will be buying this one for sure. The only people who will be upset are the people who are buying 5G iPods right now, because they’re effectively spending money on old technology.”

You’ve heard our thoughts - what do you think? Your comments and thoughts are appreciated below.

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I want to upgrade so badly… I’ve got a 4GB nano, with about 5GB of music and 2GB of video on my computer. I don’t want a 5G iPod, because it will soon be bested by the 6G, and the iPhone doesnt appeal to me for a number of reasons (high price, no need for the phone part, currently using T-Mobile, 8GB not enough). I can not wait for Apple to unveil the 6G, hopefully with an iPhone-esque control scheme, and a decent amount of flash memory. Now that I’m used to my flash based Nano, I’m not sure that I could go to an     HDD. I’ve used my friends 5G iPods and the sluggish scrolling and loading bothers me to no end. But honestly, I don’t think an early 6G launch would sap that much from iPhone sales, as a lot of people can’t go out and buy one now due to their contracts with other service providers. APPLE! Please release the 6G soon.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 7, 2007 at 6:45 PM (CST)


I have an original 4G iPod Photo (60GB) which I bought as soon as it was announced in 2004. The thing is a behemoth, but it’s held up rather well considering the amount of use it’s been through. One thing I REALLY need though is gapless playback. I listen to a ton of non-stop mix albums, so I’ve been contemplating a newer iPod ever since the 5G’s were announced. The only thing that’s been stopping me is the promise of a “video” iPod, which has been rumored for the last year-and-a-half. So…how much longer should I wait?!

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 7, 2007 at 7:09 PM (CST)


To amend my previous comment, I’m just not that interested in the iPhone. What I want is that kind of interface for the new iPod, but with at LEAST 80GB of memory, and preferrably 100GB or more. I want a media device first, not a communications device.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 7, 2007 at 7:23 PM (CST)


Three key wishes for the 6G: iPhone design and interface, 80+GB HDD, and Bluetooth to connect to cars/headphones/speakers.  If THAT 6G video were released tomorrow I would buy it.  I don’t think I will buy an iPhone.  I need a real keyboard to type fast and Blackberry ($75 with 2 year contract) has that.  Some of those now have music, although none of the keyboard enabled PDA/phones combos synch with iTunes.  My work will supply the Blackberry and/or cell phone so why buy the iPhone?

Hopefully Apple will surprise everyone and release THAT 6G sooner than June.  I have $600 in Apple Store Gift Cards that I want to spend on THAT 6G, some speakers, and maybe a new Nano.

I have a 5G 60GB and I love it.  I watch video almost daily and listen to music every day.  I watch movies and multiple episodes of TV shows I download from iTunes.  I also have a 1GB Nano and Nike+.  Yes, I know I am obsessed.

Apple, please don’t try to force me to buy a phone I don’t need.  It won’t work on me, and it won’t work on a lot of other people.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 7, 2007 at 7:57 PM (CST)


Despite my desperation to own a widescreen video iPod, I’ve bonded remarkably well with my 80Gb 5.5G. It’s a lovely experience, but I want a bigger, 16:9 screen. I’m really into video. I watch music videos at work and TV shows on the way home.

For the music-centric crowd—those who are not interested in video—I would hope that Apple retains the current basic form factor. I think the iPod Video should become an additional iPod class, not a replacement for the iPod. Of course I love the iPhone but I’m not a phone person, so would rather a dedicated iPod Video with massive storage (80Gb+).

I think the masses really don’t have a clue about video. This is especially true in a country such as mine, Australia, where there is little video content available from the local ITS and most people would never attempt to rip their own video. I still see many 5G users with no album art despite the auto-download feature of iTunes 7 and only a few watching video. From among my friends I have to harangue them to get them to update their iTunes and even to simply drag music that I’ve carefully prepared for them into iTunes. I think the general public are like this. So in this environment the music-optimised 5G could continue to do well indefinitely.

However, tech-heads like us will detonate if advancements are not made.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 7, 2007 at 9:17 PM (CST)


I upgraded from the 60 GB 5th gen Video iPod to the 80 GB 5.5 gen less than a month ago.  On the one hand, I’d love a 6g wide screen video iPod, but for now I’m perfectly content with my 80 GB. 

Point is, you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to stay in sync with Apple product updates.  No matter what iPod you own, it’s still the best mp3 player on the market today and will be for a VERY long time.  Relax and continu to enjoy your current iPod(s).  I’m sure that Apple will release a wide screen iPod soon. But as they’ve done in the past, they’re going to release an update on their own time.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 7, 2007 at 9:52 PM (CST)


My 80 gig video is simply “dummy” storage. It doesnt make people go “wow”, it sure doesnt do that for me at least. If a new ipod comes out that actually does more than a simple music player I will probably get it.

Yes we are all craving a widescreen ipod but do we really need it? Yes apple could sell iphones without the phone part but would you pay the premium for it? I think that if apple is to update their ipod they need to come out with something a little more revolutionary than a touchscreen. What am I asking for? I dont know yet but I have faith apple will deliver.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 7, 2007 at 10:27 PM (CST)


I’m one of the few who has zero interest in a widescreen video iPod. Even that will have a picture that is too small for these 47 year-old eyes. I love my 80 GB iPod and hope for something with even more capacity. I travel a lot in my job and have 200+ GB of music (about 800 CDs purchased over the last 20+ years. I need capacity, not video. If I want to watch movies I’ll do it on my 7” portable DVD player—this is the smallest acceptable screen for me.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 7, 2007 at 11:21 PM (CST)


After consideration, I would say the 6 gig iPod is not needed. Apple is clearly headed in the home entertainment biz, and the iPod has reached critical mass, which may have lead Steve-o to make the, “we don’t need DRM” proclamation.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 12:12 AM (CST)


“To be clear, I want a widescreen 6G iPod much more than I want an iPhone.”

Jeremy’s hit the nail on the head, again. However, Apple seems more interested in iPhones and smaller iPods than it does in its HDD products. I fear we’ll be waiting some time.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 2:58 AM (CST)


alot of opinions have been shared here. and i think that the group of people here who have shared their opinions are a pretty good representation of the rest of the world.  maybe apple should start looking at

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 3:34 AM (CST)


I think along similar lines - I have never been excited about watching videos/movies on a 2•5 inch screen. Also, with the need to wear reading glasses, the size of the text means I usually have to grab a pair when I’m navigating the menu. The latest addition of the large letter when scrolling playlists quickly has helped.

Surely I am not alone in thinking that some option to increase the font size would help a large group of iPod users - those who wear glasses for reading only?

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 5:39 AM (CST)


I believe that as Apple lets the 5G IPOD model age without update they risk defection of user’s to other brands. The 5G just feels old now. I own a 5G, but if it goes bad, I am going to look at the new models from Creative, Samsung, and others.

Sure I want a 6G, but I am not willing to go 5 months without a music/video source just to have the way to late 6G ipod

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 6:06 AM (CST)


I think Apple is making a mistake with the iPhone strategy. The market for Cingular is so much more limited than that of the the iPod that the iPod should be first and foremost. For example, here in Central Wisconsin, I can not get Cingular. I can also tell you that I would NEVER switch cell carriers based on the availability of a device that barely holds as much as a Nano and requires a two year cell contract. Come on Apple, realize what your core base is and go after it. If you want to develop a phone, fine. But don’t let your main line falter. Many of us are waiting for new innovations in music and video players. Hell, I’d settle for a simple firmware update to my 4G that would allow gapless playback….for now!

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 8:25 AM (CST)


I just hope that the widescreen iPod has a true widescreen! The screen on the iPhone has an aspect ratio of 1.5:1, which barely counts as widescreen at all. The widescreen iPod should either have a 16:9 (1.78:1) screen, or preferably a 2:1 screen, which is between the common 1.85:1 and 2.4:1 theatrical aspect ratios. 1.85:1 and 16:9 content will playback with small black pillar bars down the sides, whille 2.4:1 content will have very thin letterboxing bars top and bottom. A 2:1 screen would minimise image cropping for people who prefer watching content pan and scan.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 8:26 AM (CST)


ShowsOn makes an excellent point. When the iPhone was announced I sat back, content with the obvious vision of what the 6G would be based on. When I heard that it wasn’t true 16:9, I got worried. It also answered a nagging question: if “Pirates of the Caribbean” were a widescreen movie, then why did Steve have to double-tap the screen to see it in “widescreen”?

I imagine that the speaker in the top and the button at the bottom rob the iPhone of some faceplate real estate. I’ll be quite disappointed if they don’t make it 16:9 for the iPod, although I have to say that most 16:9 TV content looks surprisingly natural (and easier to see) when I turn off the widescreen mode on my 5.5G. Still, a video iPod implies a proper widescreen aspect ratio.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 8:59 AM (CST)


I’d love to buy a 6G iPod that has everything the iPhone has except the phone. The idea of wireless internet would be icing on the cake for me.

But I fear Apple might want to keep enough separation between the two that it doesn’t include as much in the iPod. I too have lots of Apple gift cards that are waiting for the new iPod. I have a 3G that is still going strong, so music alone won’t make me buy a new one. The wide screen for movies and photos, plus wireless connectivity will be the main reason I upgrade.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 9:05 AM (CST)


I have the 5.5G 80GB iPod and don’t have a single video/movie/TV episode loaded on it, nor do I intend to use it for that purpose.  I want a music-centric player only.  I have no intention of buying the iPhone as I don’t intend to switch cell carriers just to have the opportunity to pay $600 plus monthly fees for a phone (I’m not the type of person who feels compelled to have my cell phone surgically implanted to my left ear.  Give me the basics on a phone and text messaging and I’m good with that).  I would love to see a 100+GB iPod at some point in the near future.  Having said all of this, I don’t know if I’m in the “mainstream” of where everyone else stands on the iPod/vPod/iPhone issue or if I’m somewhere on the fringe.  My personal hope is that Apple will keep a music-centric player and introduce the vPod as a seperate product line, but based on past product introductions, that doesn’t seem to be the case.  Only time will tell.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 10:00 AM (CST)


I would like to see something aimed at the music addicts amongst us ... 100GB minimum capacity (I have almost 90GB, and as a collector, it continues to grow), customizable EQ settings, crossfade features like you can set in iTunes playback, the iTunes album cover interface, etc.  Rather than add new applications to the iPod, let’s add to what’s already there and make our music even more fun.

The widescreen, video capabilities should be like they are now, simply icing on the cake.  The iPod is to me a music device, and should stay that way.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 10:08 AM (CST)


If you look at basic trends in hard drive growth and compare that to hard drive growth in iPods I think it’s completely reasonable to expect a big increase in hard drive capacity in the 6G iPod.  In fact, basic extrapolation suggests hard drive technology could support a 1 terabyte iPod within 3 years!  Obviously there are other considerations that affect this but it’s tantalizing to think about. 

The analysis behind this is here:

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 8, 2007 at 10:09 AM (CST)

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