Is iPod’s cool melting, or are grand plans afoot? [updated] | iLounge Article

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Is iPod’s cool melting, or are grand plans afoot? [updated]

Was it a deliberate leak? The work of a spy inside Apple who’s currently being pursued by company security? When asked about the source of several recent image leaks—most notably, photos purporting to show a newly shortened, thinned, and colored video iPod—Apple declined to comment for this story. But following the company’s request that sites remove the images, and several other recent leaks of Apple product images that turned out to be true, Apple-watching journalists and fans alike have reached two conclusions: the iPods are real, and by comparison with the current and popular iPod lineup, they’re not sexy.

image

In the weeks since the new iPods—thought by some to be sixth-generation iPods, and others to be third-generation iPod nanos—first began to appear in text descriptions and rough sketches online, readers have expressed skepticism that the cool-obsessed Apple would create a product with such characteristics. Rather than depicting the rectangular, touchscreen-equipped iPod that has been anticipated for years, the images showed squat, square-ish colored metal iPods with 5G iPod-like screens now increasingly disproportionate to their iPod nano-sized Click Wheels, with tapering at the corners for the appearance of thinness.

Professional and backseat designers alike suggested that Apple’s increasingly legendary industrial design team would never pick the radiuses, tapering, or proportions of the device’s parts; if nothing else, it would represent a devolution from the iPod nano it was claimed to replace. The look alone violated an unwritten rule of Apple products: “you will appear before them, and they shall covet you as better.”

image

Our strong belief is that the device is simultaneously real, misunderstood, and part of a larger Apple plan for the end of 2007. First, though it was only yesterday that the images appeared online and were removed, the same form factor and features have been the topics of discussion here and overseas for some time now. Amazingly, we have seen evidence that international vendors have already finished case designs around the new form factor, which is understood to be smaller in all dimensions save perhaps width than current fifth-generation iPods, and based upon flash memory rather than hard disk technology.

The misunderstanding, we believe, is in the device’s intended name and purpose. Those who would describe it as a “third-generation iPod nano” ignore that the previous nano’s physical volume—invariably subject to shrinkage rather than enlargement by Apple— would be roughly doubled in this model, leading to potential size and “cool factor” concerns amongst the young and athletic crowds the nano targets. History shows that there’s a much better chance that Apple would further shrink and cheapen the nano than it would make it bigger and more powerful.

image
Updated: This new graphic provides a more accurate size estimate than its predecessor;
the new iPod’s screen is believed to be slightly smaller than the 5G’s 2.5” display

For that reason, the new device is more practically understood as a sixth-generation iPod, with substantially diminished volume relative to 2005 and 2006 models, the added color options users have requested for the past several years, and—except for storage capacity—similar features to its fifth-generation predecessor. Unless Apple has adopted newer, smaller hard drive technologies or as yet underpublicized new memory chips, flash storage remains incredibly expensive in 5G iPod-matching 30- and 80GB capacities. For reference, Toshiba plans to introduce 32GB flash memory cards for $700 in January of 2008, and 16GB cards for $350, making it much more likely that Apple will release these models with less memory than current hard disk-based iPods.

Does that make any sense? Not initially: Apple could not do away with 30GB and 80GB iPods in favor of markedly lower-capacity, thinner models. But it could well introduce the flash video iPod as an intermediate step between the popular iPod nano and a more iPhone-like widescreen video player, which would include hard disk-based storage at equivalent or higher capacities to today’s fifth-generation iPods. Such a device has been discussed for months, including in public statements by Apple partners, and would satisfy the millions of users who have been waiting for a superior video iPod at a more reasonable price. As with the iPhone, it might make sense to use OS X as the operating system for a widescreen video device—particularly one with wireless or other advanced features—but the required chips, new software, and battery demands for OS X might not make sense for a simpler sequel to the 5G iPod, which would otherwise see noticeable performance gains merely by using flash memory and a less power-hungry chipset than today’s model.

In recent months, the once-impossible thought of image leaks from Apple has become an increasingly common reality, with certain iPhone, iMac, and iPod component and software photos appearing online before official Apple announcements. Surprisingly, and perhaps intentionally, the images have often highlighted potentially controversial elements of Apple products: the new iMac’s unusually small keyboard, a more animated iPod interface, and now, iPod bodies that don’t precisely match the proportions of their predecessors. Apple wouldn’t comment on whether it leaks and then withdraws images to let its most opinionated customers vent before a launch takes place, but we’re beginning to suspect that’s the case—either that, or the company has one or two unusually well-informed spies in its midst, and no one has the ability to stop them.

[Editor’s Note: This article was updated on August 24 with new imagery to estimate the size of the new iPod relative to current models. Special thanks to Bob Levens for his assistance.]

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Comments

1

This is what I think will happen:

iPod shuffle: stay the same (possibly 2GB version)

iPod nano: will shrink horizontally, but stay the same otherwise. Oh and maybe an orange version.

iPod video (bilbo?): 8 and 16GB capacity, will use that new leaked interface we saw a while ago, and the new colours, as shown above.

iPod touch: an iPhone without the phone or wi-fi (but similar style to 5G iPods), with 60 and 120GB hard drives and OS X.

Posted by K. Pilkington on August 23, 2007 at 7:16 PM (PDT)

2

I don’t know anymore.

Posted by Japester on August 23, 2007 at 7:35 PM (PDT)

3

I honestly don’t think they’re all that bad looking. I like the fact that they’re smaller. That seems more important… And frankly, it’s new, so it looks odd. I remember the first time I saw the 5G, I thought it looked disproportionately top heavy. Now the older versions look odd… If this is real, I’m sure we’ll get used to it and eventually fall in love with it. As many people have said, Apple ain’t stupid when it comes to design. If this is real, there’s probably a good reason for it. Or someone will soon get fired… wink

Posted by bluazul on August 23, 2007 at 8:45 PM (PDT)

4

When you shrink it down like that, standing it next to the 5G ipod almost makes it look wider as well as the screen a bit bigger. 

I still wouldn’t race out to replace my 5G that I have.  If I do replace mine it would be for a widescreen but then again I don’t use it as much as I did while I was going to college.  So I might hang on to it untill it just dies all together.

Posted by ydkjman on August 23, 2007 at 9:33 PM (PDT)

5

I am really, really going to miss the “White Era”  for iPods.  I agree with the first posters’ predictions, which basically rule the color option out.

White is such a cool, techy, sci-fi from the 60’s color.  Oh well.

Posted by neemer5 on August 23, 2007 at 10:05 PM (PDT)

6

ALL WE WANT IS AN iPHONE WITHOUT THE PHONE OR WI-FI, BUT WITH GREATER STORAGE CAPACITY. IT’S THAT SIMPLE! It’s all anyone wants, why can’t they just give us that?

Posted by urbanslaughter on August 24, 2007 at 12:22 PM (PDT)

7

When shots of the keyboard for the forthcoming iMac appeared, they were not removed.  That is, something real appeared on the rumor sites (with pictures), and there was no request for removal of those pictures.  In this case, I believe something fake has surfaced and Apple legal requested a take-down as a “red herring.”  Who knows. I guess we’ll find out this fall!

Posted by ajmicek on August 24, 2007 at 1:07 PM (PDT)

8

Ummm…..yeah…..I don’t think so. That is one fat and ugly iPod.
Note to Apple: DON’T EVEN THINK OF RELEASING THAT THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by doompod on August 24, 2007 at 2:22 PM (PDT)

9

Looks like something I’d expect from Microsoft.  Not that it is a good or bad thing, just different from what everyone seems to want.

Posted by skidemn on August 24, 2007 at 5:03 PM (PDT)

10

I have to say . . . I like the new design.  The only thing that would stop me from rushing out to buy it would be if it were as “handicapped” as the nano.  I need to be able to use the photo connector to upload photos to my iPod from my camera while on the road - that’s the number one reason that I have the iPod video right now (plus a nano that I use every day).

Posted by oilseeker on August 24, 2007 at 9:45 PM (PDT)

11

It could be a new range of iPod between the nano and the Hard drive 5g version. Just my appinion

Posted by sjaeger172004 on August 25, 2007 at 1:15 AM (PDT)

12

Hopefully Apple is bringing H.264 video and OS X to these updated iPods. The new screen size would mean a user can enjoy HD video such as album art with Coverflow. The iPod screen shape would be necessary for this and would make for a consistent user experience across all Apple products. I don’t want to view HD on an old size TV. The screen shape has to be proportionate to the image that is to be displayed. Let’s get real here!

Posted by Oh Blah Dee Blah Dah on August 25, 2007 at 6:07 AM (PDT)

13

yeah, I pretty much agree with urbanslaughter…just give us something that looks exactly like the iPhone, but use the space created by removing the phone bits to put in 60GB and 120GB HDDs…..and maybe a bigger battery. A large capacity iPod with a large, widescreen touchscreen….and Mac OS. Perhaps retaining the wi-fi would be cool, not for internet connections but just for syncing purposes…I would live without for an extra 5 hours battery though.

Posted by Nuke666 in Melbourne, Austalia on August 26, 2007 at 2:59 AM (PDT)

14

I’m all for this thing if it does in fact rest somewhere between the nano and the real 6G touchscreen model.

As for people saying no wifi in the 6G touchscreen version, come on! Zune has wifi, Archos 605 has wifi, why can’t the newer better 6G ipod touchscreen have wifi and safari? Stop downplaying the iPod.

Give me a 3.5” touchscreen iPod with 30-160GB of HDD storage, wifi and safari and I’ll be very happy.

Posted by roxics on August 26, 2007 at 2:12 PM (PDT)

15

I want an iPod that’s an iPhone without the phone but still with the wifi, browser, etc, and with at least a 60 GB hard drive. I like the idea of browsing the web, using email, etc, from the couch or a hotspot on my widescreen iPod. I just don’t like the idea of paying $60 per month for the privilege. I’d even be willing to pay $600 for the iPod if that’s what it costs. So an iPhone without the phone, but with everything else.

Posted by sjonke in Maryland, US on August 31, 2007 at 6:00 AM (PDT)

16

“Professional and backseat designers alike suggested that Apple’s increasingly legendary industrial design team would never pick the radiuses, tapering, or proportions of the device’s parts.”

Note to self: pay no attention to professional and backseat designers prior to the next Apple product launch…

Posted by Magic Rabbits in Aberdeen, Scotland on September 6, 2007 at 7:10 AM (PDT)

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