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New smaller, flash-based iPod this Christmas?

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By Dennis Lloyd

Publisher, iLounge
Published: Friday, October 1, 2004
News Categories: iPod

“Citing ‘numerous sources in Asia,’ Thomas Weisel analyst Jason Pflaum said Apple will use SigmaTel’s controller chips for a player it’s planning to launch this Christmas. [...]

Unlike Apple’s hugely popular iPod and iPod Mini players, the new player would use solid-state flash memory, which has less capacity but can make for a lighter, cheaper player.”

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Comments

1

if this is true, its a very smart idea by apple. Adding a smaller but cheaper player to their line of insanely successful music players will let people with a lower budget enjoy the quality of apple that so many have come to love.

Posted by Anirin in CA, USA on October 1, 2004 at 8:33 PM (PDT)

2

cheaper in what sense?  Per mb, flash memory is MUCH more expensive than hd based players.  You pay for what you get and i don’t really think this is a good move on apple’s part considering the ipodmini more than fills the gym demographic that flashed based players go for. but oh well.

Posted by dave on October 1, 2004 at 8:36 PM (PDT)

3

I really wonder where this came from. I remember distincly that Steve Jobbs was talking about how you can’t get very many songs on a flash based player, and that limitation made them useless. I also rememeber him stating that the 4 GB limit was what Apple felt was the minimum for taking your library with you without having to worry about which songs you were needing.

So, to conclude, from a usability and practicality standpoint, this does not make sense from what Apple has been saying in the past. Anyone else notice this incongruity?

Posted by Nick on October 1, 2004 at 8:37 PM (PDT)

4

I think they might be adding more flash memory as the buffer, so the battery can last a lot longer in the next generation!

Posted by Snowy in Australia on October 1, 2004 at 9:20 PM (PDT)

5

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/30/8gb_flash_card/

4GB Flash should be quite cheap soon, especially if bough in quantity. It would allow for an even smaller, totally shock resistant mini.

Posted by Oliver :) on October 2, 2004 at 12:57 AM (PDT)

6

I agree….  Flash memory is getting cheaper and there are products with greater capacity than ever before.  (Remember when the mini cam eout, and everyone thought it was overpriced and would not sell?)  A cheaper iPod would be very successful, and now that Apple is licensing to Motorola (Whose phone will definitely use flash memory for music storage), there is no reason for them not to use flas a bit as well….

Posted by Ishgabibbel on October 2, 2004 at 2:50 AM (PDT)

7

guys, the ipod mini already uses compactflash memory. check out the dissection pics on this site. thats why its well suited for the gym.

so my question is..whats the difference between thsi flahs memory and the one that the mini already uses?

Posted by John on October 2, 2004 at 4:15 AM (PDT)

8

John no it, uses a hard drive pictured here: http://gallery.ipodlounge.com/ipod/displayimage.php?album=6&pos=11
and described here: http://www.ipodlounge.com/articles_more.php?id=3059_0_8_0_M

thanks for the complete misinformation though. 

Posted by No John on October 2, 2004 at 4:50 AM (PDT)

9

‘guys, the ipod mini already uses compactflash memory. check out the dissection pics on this site. thats why its well suited for the gym.

so my question is..whats the difference between thsi flahs memory and the one that the mini already uses?’

It has flash memory as a buffer, but not as average storage. Otherwise the battery-life would be insanely high.

Posted by dino in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada on October 2, 2004 at 7:16 AM (PDT)

10

This could be great for apple a lot of people go for the cheap flash based players.  Most all young people have a flash player cause there small, cool, and there parent’s don’t want to spend $250 on a mini, but this could allow them, as stated in the first post to experience an apple product if they haven’t done so, and could make them want to go with an apple HD player when there ready to upgrade.  My first mp3 player was flash.

Posted by Jonathan on October 2, 2004 at 7:36 AM (PDT)

11

There is a different between the Microdrive that can be found in the iPod Mini and regular Compact Flash I drives. The Microdrive might look just like a Compact Flash I cartridge, but it actually is a little harddrive with a tiny magnetic disk and reader. you can even hear it spin up when you load a song on your iPod Mini.

Posted by No John 2 on October 2, 2004 at 8:32 AM (PDT)

12

Two words: market domination.

Yes, this goes against the grain of what has been said previously about HD vs. flash based players by Job, et. al, but times have changed. At one point, the iPod was a Mac only device “to encourage switching”. Now they are seeing switching from the Halo effect.

Apple has an opportunity to dominate in the music market, but they need to maintain momentum and capture as much as possible in these early days. Many iPod fanatics wouldn’t buy a flash player for themselves (at least as a primary device) but would easily lay out $99-$149 to friends and family as a gift for Christmas - think how many would sell.

With Microsoft, others entering the music market, this could be Apple laying it down saying “We intend to win every corner of this market, including the entry level”. This is really important, because once someone has invested $40-50 in digital music, the cost of switching platforms (iPod to WMA) goes up. They need to get as much of this growing, nasceant market as possible, and this Christmas season is the one that will define the market for the year to come, and possibly past that.

Posted by Michael on October 2, 2004 at 8:46 AM (PDT)

13

Dave - sorry man but I think you are basicly flat out wrong.  The iPod mini in no way “fully” fills the “gym demographic.”  Flash players are significantly lighter and more durable than the new 1” HD base mini.  I would not run around with a mini and subject it to the fierce physical strain of justling up and down and being posibly droped, smacked or yanked in any given situation.  Also you are unfortuanatly incorrect in your implication that the lower price per MB of HD players equates to their being a better fit in a certain market, the price per MB is not the issue with the “gym demographic” it is the durability and portability of the flash players as compared to their less durable and less portable HD based cousins or sisters or whatever that is the issue.  In my opinion a flash player that overall cost less than a 20 or 40GB iPod or iPod mini would be a much better fit for the gym.  I love my iPod and I am not going to put it up to that harch environment.  It just doesn belong their, or at least not if i can help it by using a less expensive per unit flash player.
Nick - I agree that this new iChip player is a little surprising in that I think Jobs has said what you quoted him as saying. However, i think he was wrong so i am pleased to see this development.  As long as it is a significant amount less expendive than a mini.
On a nother note I hope the battery life of this iChip player is…shall we say…“much extended” from the iPods.  I don’t know how many people have held of buying an iPod because of the bettery life but I sure know that it would help Apple out a heck of a lot to get rid of this battery issue.  Besides the audio defect, scratches, and file type compatabilitys the battery is the only other thing that is frustrating about the iPod.  If these four things where delt with or worked on then I don’t see how the iPod could lose.  Some may want a color screan and the works of images and video playback but I think that the black and white display for the audio player is resonable as long as the rest of it matches the utopian home electronics quality that Apple seems to strive for.

Posted by P The D on October 2, 2004 at 9:31 AM (PDT)

14

“The Microdrive might look just like a Compact Flash I cartridge, but it actually is a little harddrive with a tiny magnetic disk and reader.”

Yeah, and don’t try to take a Mini above around 9000 feet (like, say, skiing or snowboarding). The disk platter will melt onto the heads and your player will be hosed.

Flash doesn’t have this problem with depressurization.

Posted by melting on October 2, 2004 at 11:37 AM (PDT)

15

Do the 3Gs have this problem?  Because I take mine snowboarding at Keystone all the time… I should look up how high Keystone is.

Posted by Word? on October 2, 2004 at 11:56 AM (PDT)

16

It would be so cool to have an Apple version of a thumbdrive type player.  I’ve seen some really good looking usb thumbdrives that play mp3s but are no bigger than an ordinary thumbdrive.

Posted by a on October 2, 2004 at 12:20 PM (PDT)

17

I highly doubt this… Steve Jobs made it very clear when he introduced the mini that flash memory just isn’t good enough.  Sure, cards are becoming higher capacity and cheaper, but not to the point that we’re talking about.  That article somebody mentioned above says that a 4 GB flash card costs like $900.  I don’t care how many you buy, there’s no way they’re decreasing the price by more than half.  I think it is much more likely that we’ll see an update to the mini, probably to 6 or 8 GB, before Christmas.

Posted by Adam on October 2, 2004 at 2:20 PM (PDT)

18

I also wouldn’t submit my ipod to a gym environment.  I believe it has a what, 20 minute buffer (3G) - good for a little while but I normally run for 40 minutes.  I would be interested in a flash based ipod, even it its capacity was much less.  Apple could make it easy if you can just load one playlist into it.

Posted by Andy on October 2, 2004 at 3:01 PM (PDT)

19

adam, i thought it said that the 8 gb one was 900, not the 4gb one..

Posted by re:adam on October 2, 2004 at 3:35 PM (PDT)

20

Truthfully, i hate this idea. the whole reason people buy the ipod is because of it’s huge memory, it’s simplicity, and it’s whole “cool” aspect. Those are the reasons i bought one, and a small capacity, cheaper ipod would just about ruin the ipod experience.

Posted by Landon on October 2, 2004 at 3:41 PM (PDT)

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