Backstage: A more colorful iPod future | iLounge Backstage


Backstage: A more colorful iPod future

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Thursday, August 5, 2004
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picIf I had one of Apple’s “new product suggestions? boxes sitting right here, I know just what I’d be submitting. And given that I’m a hardware/specs buff, it wouldn’t be the suggestion most people would expect me to make.

One of Apple’s smartest products ever was the original iMac, which wisely borrowed from Nintendo’s bag of tricks by introducing a cool product (in Nintendo’s case, the original Game Boy) and then selling versions with different colored cases. The iMac’s three-year history began with one colored case, Bondi Blue, then switched six months later to a five-color selection (Blueberry, Grape, Strawberry, Lime, and Tangerine). Nine months later, Apple added a Graphite model, then switched to Indigo, Ruby, Sage, and Snow, eventually discontinuing Ruby and adding the oddball Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power colors in February 2001.

picFor consumers, the problem was getting the color you wanted. Early allocations of iMacs sold out in certain colors and had overstocks of others. Later iMacs were to some extent color-coded by price point, so you had to cough up extra cash to get a Graphite case, though if you wanted an Indigo case, almost every other price level of iMac could be had with one.

But a couple of major factors have changed since then. Apple now controls a substantial fraction of direct sales of their products, and ships many of them direct from manufacturing plants overseas. At those plants, the company is already engraving iPods – another of the company’s smartest innovations ever, this one all but preventing the resale of outdated products. Given the company’s strengths and history, the next logical step would be to offer a really broad range of customer-selectable iPod cases, as well. Only through the Apple Store.

I’m personally in the camp opposing color-cased full-sized iPods: for a higher-end luxury product, white or black’s the way to go. But releasing the cheaper, less powerful iPod mini in multiple colors at the very start was a really smart strategy, and letting customers direct order anodized aluminum cases in their choice of, say, 15 colors, would be a really wise move. New colors could come out every six months. Hopefully a transparent plastic casing would be in there somewhere. Blending the concept with free engraving would seal the deal: every iPod mini is custom-made for you, and once you get it, you’re keeping it ‘til one of you dies.

Yeah, it’s not as exciting as a color-screened $499 60GB iPod that plays movies, but Apple would sell two million of these even if it kept the price at $249. Just ask Nintendo. (I’d still either increase the HD space or drop the price just to be safe, but that’s just me.)

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Remember the “color changing case” patent that Apple picked up about a year ago?  Someone can probably link to it.  That would be very cool, but probably too much battery power for an iPod.  Might be in the next iMac, however…

Posted by thenightfly42 on August 6, 2004 at 9:06 AM (PDT)


Im waiting for the 60GB 4th Gen iPod to come out. Only then will i upgrade from my 3rd Gen.

Posted by ipodphreak on August 6, 2004 at 11:36 AM (PDT)


i still wait….. and looks like forever… for the new update version software for 3Gns….. at least the manage of the On The Go lists….. but….. i still waiting.  Sad.

Posted by Jalil on August 10, 2004 at 4:44 PM (PDT)


I hear you about Nintendo.  The smartest thing they ever did with the gameboy is to keep the black and white screen until they could maintain battery life and backwards compatibility.

What Nintendo did with the Gameboy was absolute genious.  It outlasted hundreds of competitors many of which were technically superior (Game Gear to name one) and is still kicking ###.

Posted by asohangh on August 10, 2004 at 5:12 PM (PDT)

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