iLounge’s Big Picture View of Apple’s Beat Goes On Event | iLounge Article

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iLounge’s Big Picture View of Apple’s Beat Goes On Event

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Articles Categories: Editorials

So Apple’s latest Special Event—“The Beat Goes On”—is over. We’re going to have a lot more to say about it throughout the day today in updates to our news, articles, and First Looks, but both Dennis and I wanted to offer some big picture thoughts as to what took place.

Jeremy: “There was some good news for iPod and iPhone fans, for sure, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed today. Certain details we’d been hearing prior to the event did not come together as we’d expected them to, and though the new nanos will be popular, the high end of the iPod family has just become a lot more confusing.”

Dennis: “I was pretty excited by most of the new announcements. The new iPod family looks strong. Some things (the new nano and the iPod touch) were cool, as were Apple’s iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store and the Starbucks deal. Other things, I was lukewarm on.”

iPhone Price Drop and Starbucks

Jeremy: “The best news of the day was the iPhone’s price drop to $399 for an 8GB version. To me, this is a clear sign that Apple was concerned about meeting its 2007 and 2008 sales targets at the prior price points, and moved aggressively as a consequence to fix that. As always, the early adopters who paid $200 premiums for that privilege got burned, but that’s the price you pay for being first on your block. I was surprised that there was no announcement of European partners. Something interesting is going on there.

“The Starbucks deal? I am a weekend Starbucks customer—every weekend, twice, and I love it. This is a great deal for Apple, but the rollout is way, way too slow. Someone should tell Starbucks to slow down their store openings a bit and work on improving the ones they already have.”

Dennis: “The iPhone price is great. If he’s right about his claims that everyone wants an 8GB model, this price is going to be dynamite for people. It will get into many more hands, which is good for Apple. The Starbucks deal was especially impressive. That’s a huge partner for Apple.”

Touchscreen iPods - the iPod touch

Jeremy: “Touch screen iPods with Wi-Fi were a given. So were iPods with newer, bigger hard drives. But rather than put these two products together in one shell, we got two different products—the iPod classic and the iPod touch. Both are thinner than you’d imagine, and at least in the abstract, cool new iPods. Neither one does it for me, or for the majority of iLounge readers who wanted a widescreen iPod with a big hard disk inside.”

Dennis: “I do like the new design, but I probably wouldn’t buy one. I don’t need the extra capacity over my iPhone. I would still take an 8GB iPhone instead of an iPod touch. But if I didn’t have an iPhone, and didn’t want to use AT&T, I might consider the 16GB version, as I don’t need to carry all my video around at the same time.”

Something Old, Something New: the iPod classic

Dennis: “I like it, but it’s kind of a bummer that there is no white. The new features, like Cover Flow, are nice, and I like the new interface with the floating art off to the side. Would I buy one if I didn’t have an iPhone? 160GB is tempting, but I don’t need everything on my iPod. I can manage the contents from trip to trip. So I wouldn’t use the space.”

Jeremy: “Apart from the odd metal face, it’s a nice 2006 product that I have no need for. I really never enjoyed—tolerated is the right word—watching videos on the 2.5” screen. This new model has the same screen size and same screen resolution as the 2005 iPod, so video viewing isn’t any better. Realizing that Apple was content to couple the 160GB hard disk with that screen—and not the iPod touch’s—was like putting golden nails directly into my eyes. It feels like Apple now has an upgrade strategy, and it’s ‘wait three years to give customers the single product they want.’ “

Nano with Video: the iPod nano

Jeremy: “Apple deserves some post-spy shot credit for the new iPod nano. It photographs awfully, and the curves are just plain off by Apple standards, but it is going to be insanely popular when people actually get their hands on it and see how small it really is. Think solar-powered calculator and you’ll have the right general idea; as a general rule of iPod, “smaller just makes things cooler.” The 2” screen looks great—better than current nanos, for sure—and the overall footprint achieved by going with a 2” display rather than a 2.5” or 2.3” version will be totally acceptable to past iPod nano fans.”

Dennis: “I was skeptical of the new form factor, but once I held it in my hand, it was very nice—very thin. I do like the new form factor. It’s going to be interesting to see how fitness users like it, as it feels a little bigger in mass than the last nano. I like the new colors here a little better than with the shuffle.”

Refreshing Colors: the iPod shuffle

Dennis: “I liked the old colors better. Other than that, it’s the same as before.”

Jeremy: “The shuffle update wasn’t shocking; we’ve been waiting for the axe to drop on this product for years now, but it’s just too easy for Apple to keep churning them out at a $79 price, and apparently too hard to make a nano at that point. None of the new colors did it for me, but the idea of a Product (RED) version is at least pleasant.”

iTunes Updates: The iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store and Ringtones

Jeremy: “Apple once again nailed the basics of this concept with an incredibly simple iPod and iPhone interface, and the ‘duh, just sync it back to your PC or Mac’ handling of downloads. But we’d heard whispers that it wouldn’t just be the iTunes Wi-Fi MUSIC Store, but rather the Wi-Fi Store. You know, with videos, games, and other content. That’s not here; maybe we’ll see it in 2008. And what about the Apple TV—a device that really, really needs Buy Now buttons, arguably even more than the iPod or the iPhone did, save for the fact that it’s not as popular as a product?

“99 cents for ringtones? Awful. I won’t pay a dime for a custom ringtone, and feel really sickened by the idea that Apple gave in to whomever put pressure on them to charge extra for such a thing. It’s my music. I can play it through iPhone’s speaker—or any other speakers—if I want. Now I have to pay a fee to cut the track up into a snippet for the iPhone? No way. Never. Ever.”

Dennis: “99 cents? Why do I have to pay 99 cents when I already own the music? What’s up with that? It’s lame. I’m excited about the Wi-Fi Store for on-the-go buying.”

Your Thoughts?

Give us your thoughts on the Special Event below. We want to hear them.

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Comments

1

It seems like they’ve added confusion to the line for the guy that walks in off the street.  That’s not Apple’s way.  At the top of the full-size iPod line, you have the iPod touch and the iPod classic that are similarly priced. Also, the new nano is so close to the classic that there’s additional confusion.

In the past when they’ve had so many options, they quickly got rid of a few.

Example 1: At one time their line-up was iPod mini, iPod, and iPod photo.  Then they renamed the iPod photo to “iPod with color display.”  Then all full-sized iPods had color displays, so the line was just iPod mini and iPod.

Example 2: Instead of keeping the iPod mini when they introduced the iPod nano, they got rid of it.

I see them getting rid of the “classic” altogether and push the iPhone/touch aesthetic down the line.  I think this new iPod body is just a transition.  The “screen above the scroll-wheel”-look is so iconic that they can’t get rid of it immediately.  If the past in any indication, the new aesthetic comes from the higher priced devices, which right now are the iPod touch and iPhone.

Posted by alexarch in Dallas, TX on September 5, 2007 at 3:09 PM (PDT)

2

Couldn’t agree with you more, Jeremy, on the iPod touch.  Previously, the “best” and most expensive iPod had the most capacity.  Now the “best” iPod (from a features and functionality standpoint) has a fraction of the storage space of the previous high-end model.  Frustrating for someone who has been waiting two years to upgrade.

Posted by texan on September 5, 2007 at 5:27 PM (PDT)

3

I agree with alexarch. The “new” video iPod (excuse me, “classic”) is just that, a classic. look for an upgraded iPod touch with the 160gb HDD in a year or two. Apple will go back to their “small product line, different capacities” from the iPod photo era. An iPod touch in 8, 16, 30, 80, and 160gb looks good to me. It’ll eventually simplify out to all touchscreen video iPods.
The new iPods are only okay, but I like this new trend of updating or significantly revising iPods every year.

Posted by anti-luddite on September 5, 2007 at 6:33 PM (PDT)

4

I agree with Jeremy too on the capacity.  As I already have an iPhone, there isn’t a compelling reason for me to buy the iPod Touch without major extra capacity.  I don’t think they can put a hard drive in the iPod Touch/iPhone without taking a performance hit and killing battery life.  Otherwise, I think they would.

Posted by ericem on September 5, 2007 at 7:51 PM (PDT)

5

I find it odd that both the iLounge editors and readers are saying there’s nothing in the iPod Touch to make them purchase now that they have an iPhone.  DUH!  Apple’s not marketing this to you.  If you have an iPhone, you already have more than what the rolled out today.  The iPod touch is for users who don’t want/need a phone from AT&T with a contract.

Also, hate to break it to all of you, but there will NEVER be and iPod Touch with a hard drive.  They aren’t cool enough for Steve anymore.  Flash is thin, sexier, and consumes less power.  The iPod Classic only exist to satisfy space hungry junkies.  Once Apple can make iPod Touch with flash in the 30-60 gig range, the classic will go the way Flower Power iMac.  Deal.

Posted by nilesmitchell on September 5, 2007 at 8:46 PM (PDT)

6

I’m with nilesmitchell. There will never be a HD-based Touch or iPhone, and 30GB or more of flash now necessitates a price point where they just couldn’t sell enough of them. Besides the cool factor, I think battery life is a real issue—WiFi just doesn’t come without an energy cost. Be patient. High-capacity iPhones and Touches will come.

Meanwhile, for some of us, the iPod Classic is ideal and extremely well priced. I listen to music, I have a lot of it, and I have no desire to watch videos on the iPod. The Classic’s sturdier shell, incredible capacity, and aggressive pricing make it ideal for me. As soon as a decent case is available, I’m getting the 160GB model.

The Classic’s also the final nail in the Zune’s coffin, I think.

Posted by orgel in Falls Church, VA on September 6, 2007 at 7:46 AM (PDT)

7

I’m also disappointed that the iPod product line is no longer a linear progression in two or three models from “smallest and cheapest” to “biggest and best”. I, like lots of people, wanted an iPod touch with a Hard Drive….I’d even be happy with 60GB. I understand that putting a HDD in an iPod touch would make it fatter, uglier, slower to respond and worse in terms of battery life, but I still feel a bit let down. Apple has never in the past made us choose between the best features and the largest capacity, they’ve always come together in the best ipod. I think I’ll be sitting things out for a while and waiting til the touch comes in at least 32GB…who knows how long that might take with the price of flash as it is at the moment though…. :(

Posted by Nuke666 in Melbourne, Austalia on September 6, 2007 at 5:55 PM (PDT)

8

I still own a 4G 20gig and it suits me well.

When the HD, and the apple care protection, ran out on my first 4G ran out, I opted to buy a refurbished 20 gig 4G instead of the early 5G. I don’t really care about video and the photo feature wasn’t enough to get me to pony up for a 5G.

The nano has never been an option for me. I like to feel the weight of my music in my pocket and I like hefty gadgets. My wife has a 4gig mini and it suits her just fine as well.

Now the iTouch is cool as is the iPhone, no doubt about it. The reality is that for me, the ability to watch movies and videos on a 3.5inch screen would be a little used novelty at best. Certainly not worth $300.

I played with the new Nano and Classic this afternoon and I have to say I was imensely impressed with both of them.

The Nano seems to be just the right size for what it is.

I felt that the new design is a vast improvement over the old one. I would actually want one of these (if I had $150 to spare on a toy I don’t really need).

It’s heavier than it looks, whis a good thing and gives it a sturdy, well built feeling. And it’s just the right size and shape in your hand to operate it without even thinking about it.

When my wife’s Mini finally passes on, she will love the new Nano.

As for me, when my beloved 4G’s HD finally spins it’s last, I’ll be jumping on the Classic bandwagon with both feet.

I may even go for the big-dog 160gig.

There is something nifty about the idea of carrying most of my music collection, along with every photo we own of my wife and son, with me everywhere I go.

But video will still be an amusing novelty to me and nothing more. I am a music junkie and the “classic” iPod will always be the fix for me. I hope it never goes away. I don’t think you can navigate a touch screen iPod one handed very easily.

BTW the new aluminum cases, while obviously more environmentally friendly than their petroleum-based predecessors, are extremely cool.


Scooter

Posted by ScooterD35 in NJ on September 6, 2007 at 7:32 PM (PDT)

9

I would have appreciated a 30GB iPod Touch. Why would you give your product-range’s best screen to a product with such limited memory? Video is barely an option with 16GBs, especially when you’re on a trip.

Also, there was no Mail on the Touch and I was kind of hoping for a version of TextEditor to be added to the iPhone and Touch, since iPods have long come with “.txt” readers. Both Mail and TextEd would make the Touch a full fledged PDA, with no changes necessary to the interfacing system or hardware. I think AT&T was made a promise that no PDA-like or phone-like products would come off Apple’s shelves for the next few years.

QUESTIONS FOR THE GUYS OF ILOUNGE:
There was a fairly noticeable difference between the 5G iPod-Vid and the 2G Nano in terms of audio quality. What’s the difference in audio quality between the products of the new line?

Please get to those reviews soon, I’ll make my decision mainly based on what you guys have to say about the audio quality of each pod! And my 2 year-old 5G is giving trouble already. I need an answer quick.

Posted by Manicbyte on September 6, 2007 at 7:43 PM (PDT)

10

The last hurrah of the iPod line? To upgrade them all in one fell swoop is quite something for Apple. Interestingly the event hasn’t generated the national media interest (at least here in the UK) as previous ones. Pricing is aggressive for Apple (apart from the Touch). New Nano looks really dumpy. Lower end market being cannibalised by increasingly effective cell phones (I use an 8Gb card in my Sony Ericsson to good effect - rarely use the shuffle nowadays). Touch is incredibly expensive given the storage capacity - or lack of, and the inability to load much video material legally. Only interesting option for me is the 160Gb classic - we’ve 10 iPods of various types in our family, but the larger ones are white because that’s the true classic colour! Lots of new product, not much of interest. iPhone in Europe seems to be getting late?

Posted by drevo_uk in UK on September 7, 2007 at 1:13 AM (PDT)

11

I must say I was pretty surprised/disappointed that the iPod touch has such minute capacity vs. the now iPod Classic. The new features for the entire iPod lineup all seem good, though.

I would have dumped my 80GB 5.5G iPod for a 160GB iPod touch in a heartbeat. I have a lot of music, ripped from my own music collection with Apple Lossless, so I’ll take whatever capacity I can get.

eMail would’ve been a nice addition, too. The calendar app needs work, too, so maybe we’ll see some enhancements later on.

I’ve yet to see any of the new ‘Pods, but the new nano looks like a solid upgrade. Cover Flow on the nano and Classic is a great new feature. I scan all my cover art, since I gave up trying to find cover art for obscure classical music.

Posted by jeffharris on September 8, 2007 at 6:01 AM (PDT)

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