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iPod: Walkman or Betamax of 21st century?

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Monday, November 15, 2004
News Categories: Apple

While Apple CEO Steve Jobs calls the iPod the “Walkman of the 21st century,” Microsoft and its allies are hoping to make it the Betamax of the 21st century, according to a report in the New York Times. “The iPod dominates its market in a way that no Apple product has done in a generation, raising the possibility that the company is becoming more than just a purveyor of computers with high design and low market share. If Apple continues to ride the wave of consumer electronics products, it may become the Sony of the 21st century. For that to happen, however, Jobs must do what he failed to do last time: prevail over his old nemesis, Bill Gates, who sees entertainment as Microsoft’s next great frontier. Microsoft is working hard to make sure that the iPod is less like the Walkman and more like the Betamax, Sony’s videocassette format that was defeated in the marketplace by VHS.”

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Comments

1

Like no other Apple product? What about the first Macintosh? That was huge before Gates swiped the OS idea and made it his own. Funny how history repeats itself—looks like Microsoft will just steal ideas, make them their own and release it cheaper. Both price and quality.

I am curious to see what Microsoft comes out with, though.

Fishes,
narco.

Posted by narco in Burbank on November 15, 2004 at 7:03 AM (PDT)

2

Before you worry too much… the iPod situation is hardly like the early Mac situation. More like the dominant DOS situation at the time!

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/story.jsp?story=581372

http://daringfireball.net/2004/08/parlay

Posted by Nagromme on November 15, 2004 at 7:54 AM (PDT)

3

How is the iPod situation not like the early Mac situation?

People said “If Apple licensed the Mac, then they would be as big as Windows.”

Now people are saying that Apple should open up the iPod OS so that programmers can make their own games and features.

LAME, in my book. The reason why I use a Mac is because it’s simple. I use the iPod because it’s simple. Look at how flooded the PC market is now; the average user doesn’t know what to buy because it might conflict with some other third-party software somewhere else.

They always argue about lack of choice, but the choice isn’t always a wise one.

Fishes,
narco.

Posted by narco in Burbank on November 15, 2004 at 8:55 AM (PDT)

4

Narco, I have to disagree with you.  Having choice is great, but consumers do need to choose wisely.

The real beauty of the iPod is its simplicity and it’s ability to work at a high level out of the box, but one huge limitation is the lack of options you are ultimately left with.

I love iTunes for listening to music and organizing my playlists and
I know many people here hate MusicMatch, but I prefer MM over iTunes for ripping music, fixing tags, and renaming files.

So, when I rip a new CD with MM so that it’s named the way I want it, it would be nice to be able to immediately transfer it to my iPod mini instead of having to the switch to iTunes, import it into the library and then transfer it.

Scenarios like this are the ones that Apple is not acknowledging.  Apple’s motto shouldn’t be ‘Think Different’ it should be ‘My Way or the Highway’.

The only thing keeping Apple ahead of the curve right now is that they simply have the best all-around product, but I see a lot of room for them to make this product even better.

** Apple could win me over entirely if they would just increase the options on naming files as they are imported with iTunes.  I like to name my files…‘ARTIST - ALBUM - TRACK NUMBER - SONG TITLE’.  I don’t know why such a powerful program as iTunes hasn’t made this accomodation to the PC users that are used to this file structure as a result of using other software.  Hell, I bet some Apple users might even like the ability to name files in a way other than iTunes offers.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on November 15, 2004 at 10:40 AM (PDT)

5

I fear Apple’s lead in the digital music field will drop off and eventually flounder, as was the case with Macs vs Windows computers.

The reason? Overpriced products.

My love afair with Macs in the early ‘90s faded as I could not escape the fact that upgrading was double the price as getting a PC. Granted, a Mac is better in almost every way. But I needed (and wanted) cash for other interests. Even after I started to earn money after graduation. And buying my first Mac was a strech any way. (LCII - thats what I call dedication).

Beautifully designed and crafted products are not always enough.

The iPod is a great product, and I intend to buy one soon. But lets face it, the price of the thing is quite silly.

The question Apple needs to ask it self is will I, and other customers, buy another iPod in say 2007 or 2008, or will we go elsewere? To other suppliers with similar products at half the price.

Where I live the Photo iPod 60 G costs the same as an OK 32” wide screen TV. Or 1/3 of an average net monthly wage (before any bills are paid). That is a serious wedge of cash. In fact, it’s half of what the cheapest iBook costs. The list could go on.

Suffering can be put up with for the die hards. But what about the second purchase? Surely Apple is’nt kidding it self that hungry competitors can’t and won’t make an import system for iTunes users? Or that even iPod fiends grow up and have a family, with a less than understanding wife (or husband)?

Already competitors are making similar products without finesse, but with more bang for your buck. The trend will go on. And on. Soon the compromise will be bearable, later on acceptable and in the end sensible. Does this ring any bells? - Win 3.11, Win 95, Win 98, XP. I rest my case.

I’m willing to make a strech this time round for my purchase. Hopefully I won’t turn my back on Apple once again come upgrade time.

Posted by EWR in Norway on November 15, 2004 at 11:55 AM (PDT)

6

“Apple could win me over entirely if they would just increase the options on naming files as they are imported with iTunes. I like to name my files…‘ARTIST - ALBUM - TRACK NUMBER - SONG TITLE’.”

You should check Media Center - you can define as many cusom fields as you want, and they can even be programmed to incorporate elements or derived from existing Playlists or Smartlists. There’s really nothing else that offers anything this flexibility for organizing your media. If you try to collect lots of classical, or obscure electronica, then you need many more fields than iTunes gives you.

Posted by Demosthenes on November 15, 2004 at 12:16 PM (PDT)

7

Talking Madness,

Really, Apple isn’t going to please everyone. Seems to me you have very specific tastes. Personally, I don’t have any problems with iTunes. It rips my CD’s fine, it’s easy to fix tags (and multiple tags), and I don’t know why you care what the actual file name is called when you rarely see it anyway.

I’m sure the majority will agree with me, but the other few will continue to wait around for one program that does everything.

People these days want convenience. Look at the printer/fax/scanner machines. Sure it does THREE different things, but each thing only does an OK job. I had a point, but I lost it.

Fishes,
narco.

Posted by narco in Burbank on November 15, 2004 at 12:30 PM (PDT)

8

“What about the first Macintosh? That was huge before Gates swiped the OS idea and made it his own.”

Actually, the first UI demo was done in the mid-1960s. The first commercial implementation was by Xerox in the 1970s, and both Apple and MS ripped them off. Well, they paid Xerox PARC a whole heap of cash and bought lots of Xerox stock, and in return got walkarounds the Xerox research facility, but the principle mode of intellectual piracy remains the same.

When Jobs accused Bill Gates of Microsoft of stealing the GUI from Apple and using it in Windows 1.0, Gates fired back:

http://www.apple-history.com/frames/body.php?page=gallery&model=gui

No, Steve, I think its more like we both have a rich neighbor named Xerox, and you broke in to steal the TV set, and you found out I’d been there first, and you said. “Hey that’s no fair! I wanted to steal the TV set!

Posted by Demosthenes on November 15, 2004 at 12:31 PM (PDT)

9

Heard the story before, Demosthenes, but I still don’t buy it.

Sure, they both “STOLE” the idea, but Steve came up with it first. That’s like when a clever gadget comes out, like say, the Perfect Pancake. Then a couple months later ACME, INC. will make the same thing but cheaper and they’ll sell it for less. They didn’t come up with the idea, but they will make more money because their product is pretty much the same, but cheaper in cost.

Same goes today with the Windows world. They’ll copy Apple all they want, but they’ll never get it right.

Fishes,
narco.

Posted by narco in Burbank on November 15, 2004 at 12:44 PM (PDT)

10

It’s not about copying anything… 

at least not anymore, and unless I knew more about the actual history and what Jobs was thinking at the time, I dare not asume what is was then.  These are COMPLETLY different markets.  The psycographics and demographics are very very different. 

Posted by tennrpod on November 15, 2004 at 4:49 PM (PDT)

11

“Heard the story before, Demosthenes, but I still don’t buy it.”

The history is all there, if you want to read objectively and not settle for Jobsian hagiographies.

Does this look familiar? It’s a Xerox UI from the 1970s.:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Xerox_star_desktop.jpg

Posted by Demosthenes on November 15, 2004 at 6:14 PM (PDT)

12

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a8/Xerox_star_desktop.jpg

Posted by Demosthenes on November 15, 2004 at 6:15 PM (PDT)

13

Narco-

It’s nice to have a civilized debate with you…seriously, I mean it…often times on this site things devolve into one flame after another.

I don’t so much have problems with iTunes as much as I’m trying to make the point that there are small things it can do better.  Luckily for Apple, they have only small things to make better where as some of the other digital music programs/players have big things to make better.

I would like to quote you from your earlier post…

“Really, Apple isn’t going to please everyone.”

That’s exactly why people say that Apple will lose its marketshare and eventually be overtaken in the digital player market.  I don’t beleive that Apple has any obligation to try to please everyone, but if they don’t try to, people (consumers) will find someone else to please them.  I’m sure that Bill Gates will be happy to please them.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on November 15, 2004 at 10:36 PM (PDT)

14

EWR-

You hit the nail on the head.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on November 15, 2004 at 10:41 PM (PDT)

15

@Takling Madness

“Apple has any obligation to try to please everyone, but if they don’t try to, people (consumers) will find someone else to please them. I’m sure that Bill Gates will be happy to please them.”

What a lame statement.  Supertroll stikes again.  Maybe some will be pleased by what others produce, but then again some will still not be pleased and so on and so on and so on…

Your statement is circular and, as such, means absolutely nothing.  Prettly much like everything else you have to say.

Posted by Quoth_the_Raven in Herndon, VA on November 16, 2004 at 7:52 AM (PDT)

16

Raven-

You’re such a loser.  You didn’t even quote what I said correctly.  You cut my statement short and changed its meaning entirely.  Please go back and read my post again and again until you get it.

Next time you quote someone, please quote them properly.

Thanks…

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on November 16, 2004 at 11:18 AM (PDT)

17

Read this. Apple made a deal with Xerox. Alot of people like to dis Apple for many reasons, but get the facts straight.

http://www.sitepoint.com/article/real-history-gui/5

Posted by santa590 on November 16, 2004 at 2:07 PM (PDT)

18

Apple made a deal with Xerox. Alot of people like to dis Apple for many reasons, but get the facts straight.

And Microsoft made exactly the same deal with Xerox as Apple did. They paid a wad of cash and shares, and agreed to buy a specified chunk of Xerox stock at an agreed investment price. In return, the companis got virtually unrestricted walk-throughs of the Palo Alto research facility and valuable face-time with the engineers and managers.

The “TV Set” analogy is apt - both Apple *and* MS drank from the same well: Xerox.

Now, while Xerox management was incredibly happy with these deals (they also pimped PARC out toa bunch of other companies) the *employees* at Xerox PARC were not happy. They had been working on this stuff for years, in some cases for more than a decade. Many of them feared, rightly, that any prospect of Xerox cornering the market with this stuff would be voided once they let the cat out of the bag. And so it came to pass.

Some people argue that had Xerox not basically sold off PARC’s IP in this pseudo-fire sale then neither Apple nor MS would have began working on UIs. UIs would have remained confined to workstations and expensive rigs. Possibly the GUI revolution in PCs would have been delayed 5-10 years. They may have a point.

Posted by Demosthenes on November 16, 2004 at 5:44 PM (PDT)

19

I think you’re all missing the point here. Microsoft will weigh all of their products down with so many DRM restrictions that any educated user will avoid them at all costs.

Posted by mscot on November 16, 2004 at 6:06 PM (PDT)

20

Hear, hear, mscot.  Another reason I will avoid MS-based online music stores is that almost none of them have uniform usage rights on songs.

I can burn one song, but not the next; I can only take a given song out on one music player, but not two players… the list goes on and on.

One of the reasons iTMS+iTunes+iPod is so successful is that it is uniform.  99 cents a song.  Same liberal usage rights across the board. 

Posted by ct77 on November 16, 2004 at 7:05 PM (PDT)

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