iPod flash Concepts Winner Announced

We love design contests, and this was one of the best yet: design the next iPod.

Creative readers submitted all sorts of fantastic entries for this contest, and it was hard to pick a winner. We picked our top fifteen, then picked the best of the bunch. The winner receives a new pair of Etymotic ER-4P MicroPro earphones (value: $330.00), courtesy Etymotic.

When making the final cut, our challenge was to pick an entry that we thought was mostly realistic while simultaneously rewarding creativity. No entry was perfect, but we had favorites that were more or less excellent. As noted in the rules, we wanted to award a prize to an entrant who was “creative and thoughtful!” With the exception of the winning entry, which nicely combined creativity and practicality, the five entries below aren’t necessarily the top five, but do a good job of representing the tough choices we had to make in the final fifteen.

There were quite a few entries that merely shrunk the current iPod or iPod mini designs, and none of those really stood out from the rest. Some entries – like the one at the bottom of the page – obviously ignored the rules and couldn’t win for that reason. But overall, the entries displayed incredible talent and some great ideas, as you’ll see below.

Winning Entry: iPod nano

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Beautifully rendered and well thought-out, Ed Ng’s “iPod nano” represents the style and feature shift we wish the lower-end iPod line would take: smaller case, slightly evolved technology, same great emphasis on practical style. Our only reservation – the Click Touchscreen could be easy to junk up with sweaty or greasy fingers, and technologically difficult to properly implement. But overall, this was a great concept and beautiful execution. Congratulations, Ed!

Some of the Runners-Up

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This take on an “iPod nano” was also beautiful and had some great design ideas, but control and screen issues made it a fair bit less plausible. We still wouldn’t mind seeing one made, though.

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The “iPod sd” concept was a solid one: in fact, it most strongly resembled what people have expected from a flash-based iPod device – basically a duplicate of iRiver’s plastic-heavy flash players with iPod controls and user interface. “SD” suggests that the device would be Secure Digital memory card compatible, too. Great work on this one, which was executed with various differences by other entrants as well. But would Apple be satisfied merely to duplicate other companies’ designs?

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The “iPod iBall” was one of a large number of entries to presume that Apple will dump the iPod’s screen and go with a Nike or other simple white plastic and Click Wheel design. While we can’t quite figure out the need for the “menu” button on this entry, or even the “iPod” center button given that there’s no screen, we liked the clean execution of the design – as well as a number of similar entries that included sub-miniature screens and other somewhat impractical features.

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What we really liked about the “ivePod” (tribute to Apple’s design wizard Jonathan Ive) was its simplicity: offloaded controls, screen built in, headphone jack and tiny power/data connector. Carry it around like a pen for playlist playback, connect the remote if you want to skip tracks. Elegant, though unlikely.

What the?…

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This entry pretty much summed up the goofiest and/or weakest iPod concepts: 100GB, a red shell, and a color screen running Windows XP. Minus the red shell, Microsoft might actually consider this one (especially ripping off the iPod’s Click Wheel), so perhaps the artist should mail this one off to Redmond for inspiration.

Congratulations to Ed Ng and thanks to everyone for your excellent entries! You can see the rest of them at this Gallery link.

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