So Apple’s latest Special Event—“The Beat Goes On”—is over. We’re going to have a lot more to say about it throughout the day today in updates to our news, articles, and First Looks, but both Dennis and I wanted to offer some big picture thoughts as to what took place.
Jeremy: “There was some good news for iPod and iPhone fans, for sure, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed today. Certain details we’d been hearing prior to the event did not come together as we’d expected them to, and though the new nanos will be popular, the high end of the iPod family has just become a lot more confusing.”
Dennis: “I was pretty excited by most of the new announcements. The new iPod family looks strong. Some things (the new nano and the iPod touch) were cool, as were Apple’s iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store and the Starbucks deal. Other things, I was lukewarm on.”
iPhone Price Drop and Starbucks
Jeremy: “The best news of the day was the iPhone’s price drop to $399 for an 8GB version. To me, this is a clear sign that Apple was concerned about meeting its 2007 and 2008 sales targets at the prior price points, and moved aggressively as a consequence to fix that. As always, the early adopters who paid $200 premiums for that privilege got burned, but that’s the price you pay for being first on your block. I was surprised that there was no announcement of European partners. Something interesting is going on there.
“The Starbucks deal? I am a weekend Starbucks customer—every weekend, twice, and I love it. This is a great deal for Apple, but the rollout is way, way too slow. Someone should tell Starbucks to slow down their store openings a bit and work on improving the ones they already have.”
Dennis: “The iPhone price is great. If he’s right about his claims that everyone wants an 8GB model, this price is going to be dynamite for people. It will get into many more hands, which is good for Apple. The Starbucks deal was especially impressive. That’s a huge partner for Apple.”
Touchscreen iPods – the iPod touch
Jeremy: “Touch screen iPods with Wi-Fi were a given. So were iPods with newer, bigger hard drives. But rather than put these two products together in one shell, we got two different products—the iPod classic and the iPod touch. Both are thinner than you’d imagine, and at least in the abstract, cool new iPods. Neither one does it for me, or for the majority of iLounge readers who wanted a widescreen iPod with a big hard disk inside.”
Dennis: “I do like the new design, but I probably wouldn’t buy one. I don’t need the extra capacity over my iPhone. I would still take an 8GB iPhone instead of an iPod touch. But if I didn’t have an iPhone, and didn’t want to use AT&T, I might consider the 16GB version, as I don’t need to carry all my video around at the same time.”
Something Old, Something New: the iPod classic
Dennis: “I like it, but it’s kind of a bummer that there is no white. The new features, like Cover Flow, are nice, and I like the new interface with the floating art off to the side. Would I buy one if I didn’t have an iPhone? 160GB is tempting, but I don’t need everything on my iPod. I can manage the contents from trip to trip. So I wouldn’t use the space.”
Jeremy: “Apart from the odd metal face, it’s a nice 2006 product that I have no need for. I really never enjoyed—tolerated is the right word—watching videos on the 2.5” screen. This new model has the same screen size and same screen resolution as the 2005 iPod, so video viewing isn’t any better. Realizing that Apple was content to couple the 160GB hard disk with that screen—and not the iPod touch’s—was like putting golden nails directly into my eyes. It feels like Apple now has an upgrade strategy, and it’s ‘wait three years to give customers the single product they want.’ “
Nano with Video: the iPod nano
Jeremy: “Apple deserves some post-spy shot credit for the new iPod nano. It photographs awfully, and the curves are just plain off by Apple standards, but it is going to be insanely popular when people actually get their hands on it and see how small it really is. Think solar-powered calculator and you’ll have the right general idea; as a general rule of iPod, “smaller just makes things cooler.” The 2” screen looks great—better than current nanos, for sure—and the overall footprint achieved by going with a 2” display rather than a 2.5” or 2.3” version will be totally acceptable to past iPod nano fans.”
Dennis: “I was skeptical of the new form factor, but once I held it in my hand, it was very nice—very thin. I do like the new form factor. It’s going to be interesting to see how fitness users like it, as it feels a little bigger in mass than the last nano. I like the new colors here a little better than with the shuffle.”
Refreshing Colors: the iPod shuffle
Dennis: “I liked the old colors better. Other than that, it’s the same as before.”
Jeremy: “The shuffle update wasn’t shocking; we’ve been waiting for the axe to drop on this product for years now, but it’s just too easy for Apple to keep churning them out at a $79 price, and apparently too hard to make a nano at that point. None of the new colors did it for me, but the idea of a Product (RED) version is at least pleasant.”
iTunes Updates: The iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store and Ringtones
Jeremy: “Apple once again nailed the basics of this concept with an incredibly simple iPod and iPhone interface, and the ‘duh, just sync it back to your PC or Mac’ handling of downloads. But we’d heard whispers that it wouldn’t just be the iTunes Wi-Fi MUSIC Store, but rather the Wi-Fi Store. You know, with videos, games, and other content. That’s not here; maybe we’ll see it in 2008. And what about the Apple TV—a device that really, really needs Buy Now buttons, arguably even more than the iPod or the iPhone did, save for the fact that it’s not as popular as a product?
“99 cents for ringtones? Awful. I won’t pay a dime for a custom ringtone, and feel really sickened by the idea that Apple gave in to whomever put pressure on them to charge extra for such a thing. It’s my music. I can play it through iPhone’s speaker—or any other speakers—if I want. Now I have to pay a fee to cut the track up into a snippet for the iPhone? No way. Never. Ever.”
Dennis: “99 cents? Why do I have to pay 99 cents when I already own the music? What’s up with that? It’s lame. I’m excited about the Wi-Fi Store for on-the-go buying.”
Give us your thoughts on the Special Event below. We want to hear them.