Mix: Legal downloads, Ecosystems, Shuffle charger, DEFCON | iLounge News

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Mix: Legal downloads, Ecosystems, Shuffle charger, DEFCON

Legal music downloads in the U.S. and much of Europe more than tripled in the first half of 2005—180 million tracks were downloaded, up from 57 million in the first half of 2004.

The iPod is doomed,” writes Fast Company’s Joun Sviokla. “Not this month, not this year, and maybe not the next. But soon enough, Apple will lose its hold on the marketplace for both digital-audio players and digital songs. It’s inevitable… Why? Because [rivals] have created an economic ecosystem that powers innovation. Apple hasn’t.”

The Japan-only BrightonNet Power shuffle Charger is a portable iPod shuffle charger that strangely mimics the device and its control pad. [via DAP review]

MAKE Magazine has posted an iPod notes version of the schedule for all three days of DEFCON as well the complete speaker list. The annual hacker conference takes place July 29 - 31 in Las Vegas.

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Comments

1

The “iPod is doomed” article fails to take into account the simple fact that Apple have - and continue to - lead the standard in innovation. Apple, in most [if not all] of its products come up with innovations that make people stop and wonder why they haven’t been doing it that way all along. There’s a reason that the iTunes-iPod experience is so easy from start to finish. There’s a reason “It Just Works”. Maybe with the roaring populartiy of the iPod, the usability and innovation of Apple in general will prevail for as long as it possibly could.

Posted by harrison on July 25, 2005 at 10:20 AM (CDT)

2

Remember ECON101? Apple’s business model for years has been to come out with highly innovative products that are orders better than what’s in the market. They keep their systems closed to make monopoly profits. By the time the industry has caught up, Apple is working on it’s next innovation. So Apple gets the huge chunk under the left side of the monopoly demand curve. They don’t care about the tiny profits available in the competitive markets.

Posted by ned on July 25, 2005 at 10:50 AM (CDT)

3

I don’t currently own an iPod, but I will soon own 2. This article from FastCompany reminds me of the Apple nay-sayers that used to say that “Apple is going down”. It’s just silly. Apple has managed to lead the charge in every innovative product since they have existed. As another poster suggested, the article does not take into account that while the other companies are just beginning to make their products look like the iPod, Apple is busy making the next generation of iPod. There’s an article in the new edtion of Macnews that discusses the transition to Intel chips. In this article, it mentions that Jobs secretly has kept an ongoing version of OSX that works on Intel, so the switch over will be automatic. This is the type of proactive - not reactive - action that will keep Apple at the leading edge of innovation.

Posted by Vaughn D. Taylor on July 25, 2005 at 12:06 PM (CDT)

4

The iPod is doomed?  I doubt it, though it’s a safe bet isn’t it?  That’s like back in the 80s’ if you said “Oh the Walkman won’t be around forever.” or saying back in 1910, “Vinyl won’t last.”

Yes I’d say in five years or ten years the iPod as we know it won’t be top of the pile.  But I think Apple, if they play their cards right, will have something to replace the iPod.  Maybe it’ll still be called the iPod or maybe they’ll have changed the name, but they’ll be there.

Currently it is the best MP3 player.  I’ve had friends who bought the top of the line iRivers and within a year ended up with the iPod.  Sure you might say that iRiver and other companies are pushing the edge of innovation with such advanced features as FM radio, but the user experience on the iPod and iTunes is so far removed from the user experience on the others that it’s no contest right now as to which you should own.

Same thing with phones.  I’ve got a Sony Ericsson S710a and it’s a good phone but the process of loading music on it via Bluetooth is so painful that I’d never do it daily the way I sync my iPod.  Plus the memory is so expensive that it makes no sense to use it instead of an iPod. 

The iPod is doomed.  Well yeah, and so is Coke and Pepsi, eventually.

Posted by Jeffery Simpson on July 25, 2005 at 1:28 PM (CDT)

5

The author of the FC article confuses feature creap with actual innovation.

I don’t want an FM radio. I want an intuitive, innovative interface that allows me to easily manage and interact with my music.

Apple’s innovation is sometimes subtle, and people like this guy just can’t grasp the subtlety.

Posted by mattwardfh in Texas on July 25, 2005 at 1:49 PM (CDT)

6

I have got to agree with Jeffery: the iPod will go down when Coke and Pepsi does. I think there is a very good chance that the iPod might become an icon such as Heinz ketchup or Coke.

Posted by azn1stknightsoul on July 25, 2005 at 1:50 PM (CDT)

7

I’ve had friends who bought the top of the line iRivers and within a year ended up with the iPod.

I’ve had friends who started with iPods and within a year ended up with GMinis, because they wanted video. Anecdotes prove nothing,

The danger of a closed system, like Apple has built, is that it is basically the single source for innovation in iPod land. Apple has some good engineers, but there’s a limit to how much they can do or how many bodies Apple can poach from Creative and Rio. Ultimately, software and hardware innovation prospers best within an open ecosystem, which is what the author of this article ham-fistedly alludes to.

The advantage of WMA is that it is a relatively “open” standard (for DRM, ugh), and so many hardware manufacturers can build hardware to its spec, and many software people can set up download and subscription license operations using it.

Ultimately, by keeping within a closed system, Apple will tend to produce a few great hits every couple of years, but also a whole bunch of clunkers. This adds risk to the share price, which institutional investors hate, and also makes the big retail chains wary of going too “deep” into Apple.

As an example of a recent cluinker, consider the shuffle. It’s becoming more and more clear that this was a dog of a product and is increasingly sitting unbought on shelves. This is not good for Apple. It features no “innovation”, unless you count the cost-reduction of unbundling a screen and hence forcing the users into a lack of choice wrt playlists, genre/artist selection, and so on.

How Apple could come out with such a dog of a product while a Korean company could do something like the MobiBLU and sell it in tiny package that retails for *less* than the shuffle! This is innovation, the shuffle looks stone-age by comparison.

If Apple actually abandoned its short-term profit maximizing and went for long-term growth, then it would licence AAC+FairPlay, same as M$, and you would see an explosion of “iPod” clones that would work with iTMS.

Posted by Demosthenes on July 25, 2005 at 2:48 PM (CDT)

8

“... also makes the big retail chains wary of going too “deep

Posted by Vaughn D. Taylor on July 25, 2005 at 3:50 PM (CDT)

9

To some extent I agree with the article. In maybe 5-10 years I think common users camera, mobile phone (3G) and music player will be combined in the same unit, much like the Nokia N91. I’m not an expert, but I belive Apple won’t be able to tie all those different standards together into one product.

Posted by Smidge on July 25, 2005 at 4:18 PM (CDT)

10

Apple’s products are so great specifically because they maintain tight control of their products.

But the shuffle is not great. It is a dog. How does your thesis explain that?

*mostly* clunkers

You arrive at the right answer, unsuspectingly, in your use of “mostly”. Yes, the average quality of products for WMA is lower than the average quality of Apple’s products. But the deviation is huge, and getting wider every month. And the competition within that market is fierce, acting as a Darwinian selector.

There are several dozen, soon to be severla hundred, manufacturers of portable audio players. They will be embedded in everything. You can already buy waterproof ones, ones mounted in eyeglasses, and I’vr seen plans for a minute one that simply fits in your ear. The earbud *is* the mp3 player. No more wires, no messing about.

It’s impossible to compete successfully forever against the entire rest of the world. Apple’s tragedy since 1980 has been that it has thought that it could.

I’d compare it to Napolean or Hitler thinking they could invade Russia. Sure, you start off with the strongest army in the world. But eventually you run out of bullets and men, and simple human wave attacks overwhelm you.

Posted by Demosthenes on July 25, 2005 at 4:18 PM (CDT)

11

“Apple doesn’t care about making their way into the big retail chains. Doing so tends to cheapen a product.”

How so?  Business is business, the end result for any business is profit.  Making a product “inaccessible” to the mass decreases said profit.

“Microsoft based products are *mostly* clunkers because any company can make one.”

So are you saying *most* open-source software are clunkers because any company can make one? 

“Apple’s products are so great specifically because they maintain tight control of their products.”

Unfortunately this leads to proprietary products in which a company can charge a premium for its products due to the products being “exclusive”.

“Walmarting the iPod will definately decrease its lifespan.”

Again, this will decrease Apple’s profit margin because there are only catering to a small sector of the market.

Posted by Drew on July 25, 2005 at 7:22 PM (CDT)

12

“As an example of a recent cluinker, consider the shuffle. It’s becoming more and more clear that this was a dog of a product and is increasingly sitting unbought on shelves.”

It has become ENTIRELY clear that the Shuffle is the top-selling flash player :)

Posted by Nagromme on July 26, 2005 at 1:59 AM (CDT)

13

Anecdotes prove nothing?
iPod shuffle sitting unbought on shelves yet they still somehow managed to grab 50 percent of the market share?  Mind you this is Shuffle version 1.0 with those sales.  Just like the naysayers about iPod 1.0, this too will be proven wrong.

The exact reason I bought an iPod is so I don’t have to listen to commercial filled FM crap.  Although I do see them down the line adding some sort of radio capability.  Maybe digital radio.

Posted by Synergy on July 26, 2005 at 7:03 AM (CDT)

14

http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20050614A9057.html
http://ipodlounge.com/index.php/news/comments/weak-ipod-shuffle-sales-may-affect-flash-prices/
Although the iPod Shuffle was a hit when it was first introduced on the market, sales of the MP3 player are not justifying the supply forecasts for NAND flash that Apple has secured from Samsung.

http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1106
Apple is believed to be sitting on its most significant inventory of iPod shuffles since the player hit the market in February. According to reliable sources of information, tens of thousands of iPod shuffles remain idle in the channels this week alongside a good number of iPod photos.

http://www.macobserver.com/article/2005/07/07.7.shtml
Bank of America Securities analyst Keith Bachman on Thursday released a brief research report ... iPod shuffle demand has been weak, through iPod mini demand has been strong. We expect a new shuffle in the next few months, and believe an LCD-based refresh is needed

Posted by Demosthenes on July 26, 2005 at 8:39 AM (CDT)

15

i think the shuffle is the greatest invention this century, those who knock it are usually those who have not bothered to try one out for a few weeks…..remember it is called the shuffle, if you do not like to listen to your music randomly, then buy something else…..i understand that most of the analysts were wrong about the shuffle not selling well and that apples last quarter was so strong precisely because of the shuffle….

Posted by khyberny on July 26, 2005 at 10:08 AM (CDT)

16

Potential is as important as actual results.  Potential is what smart people invest in.  The point of the article is that Apple has the potential to be a lot more, and if they don’t go for that potential they are doomed.

Apple is in a great spot, because even if you agree with this article (as I do), Apple has to only change a few things to stay ahead of the pack.

It surprises me how many people on this board praise Apple for its innovation, but damn anyone who points out another front that Apple could innovate on.  The iPod is hands down the best digital player in my mind, but it and iTMS could be better…

What’s so innovative about not playing all digital formats?

What’s so innovativce about not having an FM tuner?

What’s so innovative about not having a subscription service on iTMS?

Of course the iPod is doing great without any of the above innovations, but it could do a lot better with them.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on July 26, 2005 at 5:16 PM (CDT)

17

remember it is called the shuffle, if you do not like to listen to your music randomly, then buy something else

I might be wrong, but I think that random play is an option on every other flash player out there. But they also enable people to select fro multiple playlists, and browse genres/artists, etc using a screen or a voice feedback.

So with a shuffle you get two choices (random or a single linear playlist), with pretty much anything but a shuffle you get both those choices, and anything else you want.

It’s not like Apple has patented random play or anything. Face it, the shuffle “feature” is just a cheap attempt to shave a few bucks off the cost price by eliminating the screen. Bigger margins for Apple. And it attempted to market people into believing that this was a virtue. Well, some people bought it (see above), but for most people, this is the first iPod device they are passing over in droves for better products.

If I had to think of an analogy, I’d use Apple’s Cube. Incredidibly strong sales the first three months or so, because every true-blue Apple fan *had* to have one. But beyond that, most people didn’t want to pay tghree times as much for a pretty box that lacked any real expandability and speed. After its initial boom sales, the Cube’s sales dwindled down to a trickle…

Posted by Demosthenes on July 26, 2005 at 6:44 PM (CDT)

18

“i think the shuffle is the greatest invention this century”

Do you honestly believe that a simple flash player that has the ability to play music either randomly or in a linear fashion is the greatest invention this century?

Like Demosthenes said, there were flash memory based players out in the market which had the ability to play music randomly, along with other features, long before the shuffle was ever released.

Posted by Drew on July 26, 2005 at 7:45 PM (CDT)

19

i have tested every other flash player out there, and nothing even comes close with the design, ITUNES, and ease of use of the shuffle….. the shuffle is designed to be simple, for people who like to listen to their music randomly, and who do not care to have any other features cluttering up their player…...and to have more than 50% market share in the flash player after one quarter speaks volumes

Posted by khyberny on July 27, 2005 at 9:18 AM (CDT)

20

i have tested every other flash player out there, and nothing even comes close with the design, ITUNES, and ease of use of the shuffle

Really? *Every* flash player? Every one? And the shuffle is the pinnacle of available design? So in a few weeks, if Apple releases a new flash player with a screen, it will be inferior to the screenless shuffle? That is an interesting point of view.

And as for software. Have you tried using the shuffle with other software, such as Media Center, that provides a more customizable experience? Or have you tried using a different flash player with iTunes (using the plugins)? There are many, many available options.

to have more than 50% market share in the flash player after one quarter speaks volumes

Ah, the AOl Argument. “50 million people can’t be wrong!” People said the same thing about Michael Bolton, that because he sold so many records, he had to be good.

Posted by Demosthenes on July 29, 2005 at 9:25 AM (CDT)

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