Lee Gomes for the Wall Street Journal writes how, while attending CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, he ventured into another smaller venue showcasing the worlds most expensive high-end audio systems. While there, he tests his iPod and the sound qualities of MP3 compression or lack thereof with several high-end systems. His first test was on a $350,000 Wavac SH-833 amplifier connected to $150,000 speakers, and standing nearby was the designer of the amp, Yuzuro Ito .
“I plugged in my iPod and queued up a song by Franz Schubert. Mr. Ito, an elegantly tailored man, closed his eyes and listened intently.
After a minute, he rendered his verdict through an interpreter. Alas, he said, ‘the top of the soprano is not so good. And on the piano, you aren’t getting the natural body of the instrument. Overall, the sound is too clear—all the hues have been stripped away.’
But, he added gamely, ‘it’s really good for digital.’”
In light of Apple’s 20th Anniversary for Macintosh this Saturday, CNET has published a retrospective on Apple’s past, present and future.
““The rules of engagement for the iPod market are new. They don’t necessarily have to follow the same rules as with their old PC policies,” said Roger Kay, an analyst at research firm IDC. “They may relinquish some control in order to gain access or control of a market that could be orders of magnitude larger than their old one.” [...]
Apple has said the iPod will succeed by offering higher quality than its rivals, even if it costs more as a result. Many analysts say they expect Apple’s consistently innovative design and aggressive marketing to perpetuate the iPod’s appeal for at least the near term.
‘We think iPod’s leading position is defendable for perhaps two years and is important to Apple’s ‘cool’ image,’ Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich wrote in a recent research report analyzing the company’s finances.”
“Here’s five things Apple could put in the next update to the iPod’s software that would make it a music power tool (in order of how much I want them):
1. Line-in recording
iPod hackers have shown that the iPod is capable of recording a few seconds of audio through it’s headphone port. Being able to record through this port as actual line in would enable you to record pure audio whenever you could get a line. No, the current voice recorder doesn’t count.”
Westering has released Shakespeare’s Sonnets as Notes as a free download. Instructions for downloading to iPod are available on the website.
“Concern over the lifespan of the iPod’s rechargeable battery has reached the House of Commons, with 11 MPs [Members of Parliament] putting their names to a motion calling for Apple to ensure that replacement batteries are plentiful in supply and priced at a reasonable level.
Labour MP for Chorley, Lindsay Hoyle, tabled the motion, stating his concern regarding the “difficulty people are having in replacing batteries for iPods”.
He notes: “iPods were a favourite Christmas present, with a value of between
“It is a bit emasculating to admit this, but portable electronics have replaced sidearms in our culture. I draw upon the Japanese katana for my analogy for several reasons. First, the katana was much more than a mere weapon or cutting tool. It was a portable symbol of status, power, and class. The warrior class, the Samurai, were actually quite numerous. At their height they were nearly 10% of the population of Japan. Before 1876, wearing the katana conveyed to the casual observer that the wearer of the long and short swords possessed a rank and status of an elite group.
The simple fact that people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars more for an iPod, when equal technology is available in a less impressive-looking package, points directly to this analogy. People will pay more for a status symbol, and in doing so, they have made the iPod one of the most important cultural icons today.”
“Back in 1999, researchers at Compaq designed a 30 Gbyte portable music player that weighed 9.5 ounces, could fit in your pocket and had 10 hours of battery life. The Personal Jukebox - aka PJB - went on sale for more than $500, and Compaq received a handy patent for its work.
But the PJB is not all that interesting in and of itself. Plenty of companies were busy working on their own music players at the time. The demand for such devices was pretty clear, as consumers rushed to organize their music on PCs and wanted a way to carry the tunes around. [...]
The only explanation for HP’s iPod lust is that it was the easy way out - the road least invented. [...]
HP’s decision to pick up Apple product points to nothing less than a failure of the company to capitalize on its own invention. In addition, it shows HP’s unmatched readiness to ignore in-house IP at the very moment a fledgling market looks promising.”
Apple has posted a new iPod TV commercial for viewing at Apple.com which features “Channel Surfing” by Feature Cast. It had been shown for the first time during Steve Job’s Keynote speech at Macworld San Francisco.
“Apple UK achieved excellent results during the last (December) quarter, with one-in-six iPods sold over the Christmas period worldwide shifting in the UK market, Macworld UK has learned.
It appears that in the region of 125,000 iPods were sold in the UK
“Hundreds of desperate shoppers missed out when the new portable digital music players vanished from the high street before Christmas.
And it doesn’t look like its popularity is on the wane - not only are they still flying off the shelves, Apple also has a new mini version on sale in the US, which is set to hit the shops here in April. [...]
“They’re like hot cakes. We get them in stores and they sell out immediately. We’re working really hard to get more stock,” says Kellie Evans, spokeswoman for Dixons.”
“HP’s move to release an own-branded digital-music player based on Apple’s iPod and to ship iTunes pre-installed on all HP PCs - has angered Microsoft.
General manager of Microsoft’s Windows digital media division David Fester has suggested that iTunes’ emerging dominance would be bad for consumers, because it would limit them to the iPod.”
MacMinute reports: A news story on Channel 4 in the U.K. last night reported on the issue some users are having with their iPod’s battery. “The iPod, by Apple, can cost anywhere from
“Contrary to reports, Hewlett-Packard will not be supporting Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio format in its forthcoming HP-branded iPod. [...]
“We’re not going to be supporting WMA for now,” said Muffi Ghadiali, product marketing manager for HP’s digital entertainment products group.
“We picked the service that was the most popular (Apple’s iTunes Music Store),” said Ghadiali. “We could have chosen another format, but that would have created more confusion for our customers.”
Tech TV’s The Screen Savers will be reviewing an iPod battery replacement kit tomorrow night (7 pm EST). This is the first time I’ve seen a TV show review the kit, and their analysis is usually spot on. Should be interesting to see their take on the issue.
Connected Home Magazine’s Paul Thurrott predicts the recently announced Apple/HP partnership will bring Microsoft’s WMA format to the iPod.
Ellen Lee for Contra Costa Times has written an article about the cottage industry which has spawned from the creation of the iPod - well known accessory makers DLO, Ten Technology, and Speck Products were mentioned.
As noted by MacMinute, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has unveiled the new iPod-based “HP Digital Music Player” at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The device is light blue in color and has an “HP” logo on the back. Firoina said it is “the first and only one” in existence. HP and Apple announced a partnership yesterday to deliver an HP-branded digital music player based on Apple’s iPod, which is expected to ship this summer. CNET has a short video of Fiorina introducing the device at CES.