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Apple: Sony’s misleading you on song capacity

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Wednesday, July 7, 2004
News Categories: iPod

Amplifying concerns raised by iLounge in a feature story last week, Apple Computer has attacked Sony’s claims that its upcoming Network Walkman devices hold more songs than comparably equipped iPods. “We’re disappointed that Sony, which is new to this market, has decided to make their first impression by attempting to mislead the press and customers,” Apple told The Wall Street Journal, explaining that Sony had used unrealistically low bit rate compression to fool readers into thinking that the Network Walkman holds more music than an iPod. In a separate interview with MacCentral, Apple’s Greg Joswiak noted that similar tricks would render the 20GB iPod capable of holding 40,000 songs, but “[t]hat’s something we would never claim because that’s just not something a customer would do.”

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Comments

1

Once again…the lone “honest” company in the midst of a horde of blood-sucking technology start-ups….I actually feel that the claims by Apple are valid (and very touching), but I don’t exactly love companies that act more innocent than they actually are.  I think I feel a tear…it’s working wink

Posted by Josh Chan on July 7, 2004 at 4:21 PM (PDT)

2

Apple does the same damn thing.  They advertised that a 10 gig i pod can hold 2000 songs but there is no way i can do that unless its low bit rate

Posted by Ryan on July 7, 2004 at 4:32 PM (PDT)

3

Actually, Apple’s estimates are pretty fair.

They assume 128kbps at 4 minutes per song.  That’s pretty much how the average person would encode the average song.

Posted by azdude_15gb on July 7, 2004 at 4:52 PM (PDT)

4

Well, Apple claims the iPod battery lasts 8 hours when real world usage puts it at about half that.  At least that’s what an employee at the Apple Store told me.

Posted by Mountain Man on July 7, 2004 at 4:57 PM (PDT)

5

A Sony device can hold thousands more songs than an iPod at 128kbps…

...If each song is thirty seconds long.

Posted by dfd on July 7, 2004 at 4:59 PM (PDT)

6

depends on how you use the ipod mountain man, this is at best conditions for battery life

Posted by enjoilax on July 7, 2004 at 5:26 PM (PDT)

7

Actually, mountain man has an excellent point, Apple’s “best conditions” are the equivalent of misleading by using unrealistic bitrates to state song capacity. But hey, I own an iPod and use it mostly in the car, so heck if I care.

Posted by Sam on July 7, 2004 at 5:39 PM (PDT)

8

“the lone “honest” company in the midst of a horde of blood-sucking technology start-ups”

Irony is good.

For Jobs, Steve see n. “reality distortion field”

http://www.google.com/search?q=reality.distortion.field

Posted by RDF on July 7, 2004 at 6:52 PM (PDT)

9

Apple shouldn’t worry. The fact that Sony’s players can’t play mp3s means this thing is dead before it even launches.  On the other hand, Sony’s claims may be valid since it is based on its ATRAC format which they claim can compress more songs more efficiently than AAC.

Posted by Anita Bonghit on July 7, 2004 at 7:11 PM (PDT)

10

blind tests of atrac versus aac and other formats have shown atrac sucks at comparable bitrates. if anything the atrac song will sound worse than aac at the same bitrate, never better.

Posted by 64 on July 7, 2004 at 8:05 PM (PDT)

11

Talk about pot calling the kettle black! Apple exaggerates just as much as Sony does, look at the iPod: Apple claims that the battery lasts up to 8 hours and yet scientific studies have shown that in actuality, for the battery to last 8 hours, you have to not change tracks, not use the backlight - essentially meaning not touching the iPod at all. How is this keeping in line with “real world usage”?

Posted by HC on July 7, 2004 at 8:51 PM (PDT)

12

you can change tracks + still get 8 hrs of life… backlight another story. but doesn’t Apple say “up to 8 hours” ?

also, iirc, ipod mini gets 10 hours if you don’t play too much with it.

apple’s stats are much closer in any case to “real world” than sony claiming you get 2.5x iPod capacity on a sony 20gb hd smile

Posted by 64 on July 7, 2004 at 9:17 PM (PDT)

13

i get approx 9 hours out of my iPod, and thats turning on the backlight [5 second timer] after approximately every 8 songs or so. [that also includes using it with the backlight on to read news etc. for about 10 minutes].
so, you know what, these “scientific studies” can go jump. I DON’t GIVE A S##T

Posted by Harrison in Melbourne, Australia on July 7, 2004 at 10:51 PM (PDT)

14

“We planned to have our next generation iMac ready by the time the inventory of current iMacs runs out in the next few weeks, but our planning was obviously less than perfect.

We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers.”


Apple needs to clean up their house first..

Posted by bababooey on July 8, 2004 at 1:24 AM (PDT)

15

Why is Apple attacking Sony? Because they’re scared. Apple hasn’t gone after any of the other HDD-based MP3 players, but now they go after the Sony, which otherwise seems on par with the other players. Why? Because Apple knows that Sony is a big name for starters, and that Sony might very well come up with the iPod killer. If Apple hadn’t developed the iPod to work with Windows, then this would be a non-issue…but the fact is now that Windows users are what keeps the iPod going. If Sony comes up with something better, Apple’s lost its meal ticket.

Posted by Dr. Webster on July 8, 2004 at 4:05 AM (PDT)

16

Same for me on the (stupid) debate over the battery: my has something between 7 and 8 hours of life, and yes, I’m using it “normally”, and yes it’s far enough for a regular use.
(I still don’t understand why the iPod’s battery life is still an issue, but really have the feeling that it’s much more an issue for people who *don’t* have any iPod…)

Posted by cyril on July 8, 2004 at 4:17 AM (PDT)

17

I’m one of those people that skip songs all the time.  I mean if you have around 4k I’m sure its a habit.  I mean playlists, are just too annoying and you get tired of them anyway.

Needless to say my ipod lasts about 5-6 hours if I’m lucky

Posted by Earl on July 8, 2004 at 4:19 AM (PDT)

18

sony? a contender to the iPod?  with their god awful track record with protecting files so tightly that even ones u have made urself aren’t exactly usable…....and lets not even talk about atrac, (2.5x more than an ipod would require their “LP4” comression, at which point a monkey would notice the loss of stereo fields and clarity)

if any one of you has ever used sonicstage or worse, openMG you will not be citing that sony can even come close to anb ipod killer!

Posted by Jay UK on July 8, 2004 at 4:25 AM (PDT)

19

This goes beyond marketing slant—every company does that. Both Apple and Sony give a “best case” ideal battery life for instance. What Sony has done is VERY different:

* Sony sells 132kbps music.

* Sony rips CDs to 132kbps (their default, recommended quality).

* Sony then pretends to use a poor-quality 48kbps instead—a quality that you would NEVER really use. This is to make their music capacity look almost 3 times as large as the truth. (And due to HD access, battery-life claims are likely exaggerated by this too.)

* And then they compare that capacity to an iPod… BUT they don’t use the same 48kbps on the iPod’s numbers, they use good-quality 128!

* And then they use two different iPod models to make the Walkman look better… one that holds “less,” and a different iPod (the 40) that costs more. But they don’t SAY they are mixing facts from two different iPods!

Compare this to Apple’s iPod launch: other companies (flash players mainly) then used awful bitrates like 64 to claim larger capacity. Apple could easily have followed the herd in that, but they didn’t. All their marketing made that truthful assumption that real users would use the higher-quality default, which was then 160kbps MP3.

Sony’s got a big flop here I think. A hard-to-use online store with bad restrictions (only 5 CD burns allowed per song—ever), and you can’t play MP3 files! Only “8TRAC” files—which sound worse than AAC in double blind tests. They even sound worse than WMA:
http://www.rjamorim.com/test/multiformat128/results.html

Posted by Nagromme on July 8, 2004 at 7:30 AM (PDT)

20

Personally I don’t even know why Apple is worried, the Sony will bomb.  If you have mp3’s, Sony’s software must first convert the mp3’s to ATRAC and then transfer them to the device. Thereby compressing an already compressed file again and lowering sound quality.  You won’t be able to put mp3’s on the device directly.  When will Sony learn that consumers don’t want to be locked into their format and want choices? Oh wait, they are also in the Record Industry, they will NEVER learn.

Once some devices are sold and word gets out on just how cumbersome it is to transfer your existing mp3 library to this device, people will steer clear of it just like they did NetMD.

Posted by jr on July 8, 2004 at 8:20 AM (PDT)

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