As expected, Apple on Tuesday announced its new lineup of iPods for the 2008 holiday season, along with iTunes 8, and high-definition TV content for the iTunes Store. Nearly everything that was announced had been leaked ahead of time, including renderings and dimensions of the new iPod nano, dimensions of the iPod touch, and details on iTunes 8’s Genius feature and HD TV shows, leaving the new products and services to wow customers on their own merits, without the surprise factor commonly afforded to Apple’s new products. Once the dust settled from the announcements and we got a chance to see the new gear in person, we asked our editors to offer their opinions on the new models. Here’s what they said.
Charles Starrett, Senior Editor, United States: “Overall, I thought the event was solid if underwhelming. The new iPod nano looks to be a very worthwhile upgrade, perhaps slightly more so than the iPod touch. As many of us were expecting, the touch gained a speaker and volume buttons for one main purpose, gaming, while dropping in price just enough to make it comparable to the iPhone 3G’s initial price tag, a move that was definitely needed. The iPod classic and iPod shuffle changes were barely noticeable amidst all the other announcements, and while HD TV shows on the iTunes Store are more than welcome, they only serve as further evidence that Apple needs to release some sort of whole-household iTunes library storage solution.”
Jerrod H., Contributing Editor, United States: “I’m nearly entirely disinterested in the recent news. In fact, this is the first keynote in a long time that I don’t feel the need to watch. It’s not because these upgrades aren’t nice for those who just want iPods—they mostly are—but my household has completely moved on to iPhones. So for us, the event just wasn’t interesting. Genius seems nice, and I’m looking forward to the ‘major bug fixes’ that iPhone Software 2.1 promises.”
Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief, United States: “Over the years, I’ve strongly disagreed with those who thought that Apple’s successes were merely due to marketing, but the past couple of Apple events have left me feeling like the sales guys, rather than ‘insanely great’ designers, engineers, and innovators, are now the ones running the show. What used to be year-round iPod excitement now starts in September and ends in December, with an iPhone event sometime earlier, and the products have become iterative rather than creative. Because of the small feature changes, Apple seems to be struggling to figure out what to emphasize, while cramming way too many product releases into one big day. Even people who follow these announcements religiously don’t know which device has a given feature any more.
That said, I love the new iPod nano colors, the new iPod touch hardware changes and pricing, and the new visualizer in iTunes 8. I’m not a fan of the nano’s new edges, the touch’s still too-low capacities, or the sense that iTunes is getting more cluttered and confusing with every version. I really think that Apple needs to go back to the elegance and ‘it just works’ philosophy that made its computers and iPods great, and soon.”
Jesse Hollington, Contributing Editor, Canada: “As has been the case for the past several iPod events, I found the new hardware to be somewhat underwhelming, perhaps illustrating that Apple is reaching the limits of what they’re willing to do with the iPod family. Improvements now seem incremental rather than groundbreaking, and I think the death knell has now been sounded for the iPod classic. In the same vein, iTunes 8 is also really just an incremental upgrade from a features point of view, adding a bit of new eye candy and the Genius feature, and finally adding long-overdue features to improve tag editing. All in all the announcements were good but certainly not great.”
Dennis Lloyd, Publisher, United States: “For me the event was a bit underwhelming, but those wanting a new iPod might have just found the event they were waiting for. The iPod nano is a great first iPod; Apple will sell millions this holiday season. The colors are hot, the gimmicky shake-to-shuffle feature is fun, and the Genius feature should get them buying more music in the iTunes Store. The form factor is nice, the all curved surface feels good in the hand and I’ve always liked the candy bar shape of older generation nanos. The iPod touch got some nice upgrades and starting at $229 it’s easier to get all the iPhone goodness sans phone; if you want an iPod will all the bells and whistles, the touch is it. The one thing I’m having fun with is iTunes Genius. I’ve used other song recommendation software in the past, but having it integrated within iTunes is surprising me with new music. I’ve even created playlists from songs I’ve forgotten about or haven’t listened to for a long time. Music recycling is good.”
Bob Levens, Contributing Editor, United Kingdom: “Underwhelming is a word I heard used quite a bit to describe this latest Apple event. They have added volume controls and a speaker to the latest iPod touch, something it should have had from day one. Quite why they added the curved back I don’t know – it will make applying films a real pain. The new nano I can’t really get excited about. It’s another nano. Oh, if you shake it it goes into shuffle mode…
The Genius auto playlists addition to iTunes 8: do I really want to be sending any more info than I need to Apple? When I am forced to upgrade to iTunes 8 it will be one function of iTunes that will stay firmly turned off. So for me, underwhelming is a good choice of word.”
Those are our thoughts—we’d love to hear yours. Share them in the Comments section below!