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A Recap of the iPod's Life 236 236

BDPrime writes "Here's a good look at the iPod's five-year existence and how, it can be argued, the device saved Apple from rotting away. From the story: 'It's hard to overstate the impact of the iPod on the computer, consumer electronics and music industries since it was introduced in 2001. The iPod, arguably, is the first crossover product from a computer company that genuinely caught on with music and video buffs. It's shown how a computer can be an integral part of a home entertainment system, and it's led pop stars from U2's Bono to Madonna to trade quips with Apple's own rock star, CEO Steve Jobs.'" Just to give a little bit of the other side of the story, not everyone loves the iPod. An anonymous reader wrote in with a link to research on unhealthy iPod listening levels at New Scientist. Additionally, Achromatic1978 writes to mention that the iPod has won a Shonky award from the Australians. I don't know what Shonky means, but I think that's bad.
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A Recap of the iPod's Life

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  • by dankasfuk (885483) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:14AM (#16515117)
    I believe the problem stems from the earbud headphones more than the player itself. Something to do with the proximity of the eardrum and the speaker, wereas the old walkemans had normal headphones (but I'm almost sure they were 'louder').
  • by Pope (17780) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:16AM (#16515137)
    The first warning articles came out in the early 80s when the Walkman initially came out. It's nothing new at all, just updated for the MP3 generation. Frankly, if you're too stupid to realize that listening to anything at high volumes for extended periods of time is a Bad Thing, you deserve to go deaf.
  • by endemoniada (744727) <(nathaniel) (at) (endemoniada.org)> on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:19AM (#16515159) Homepage
    I'm not a professional (nor a lawyer :D) but my own experience in this is that it depends MUCH more on the headphones themselves, than the player.

    I'm used to listening to music on either my old Sony EX-71 in-ear buds, or my newer (since the Sony's are pure crap in quality) Sennheiser MX-300. They act as ear-plugs and headphones at the same time, which means I can turn the volume DOWN since I don't get bothered by outside noise as much.

    And quality does matter too. Cheaper models (incidentally the Sony EX-71 too) have a pretty annoying habit of distorting higher frequencies, resulting in your ears hurting of you listen for too long, or too loud. I've never experienced this with the sennheisers, since they handle the higher frequencies much better.

    So it'd really doesn't matter what MP3-player you use. Without headphones, they're quite silent anyway! :)
  • by dekkerdreyer (1007957) <dekkerdreyer@@@gmail...com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:19AM (#16515161)
    I don't understand this "Unhealthy listening levels" issue. Nobody condems PA speakers. I don't see research articles about the unhealthy listening levels capable of BOSE speakers. I have an ipod and I often listen to it as low as I can hear it but just above the ambient noise. Just because an ipod is capable of damaging ears doesn't make it a menace. A pair of scissors is capable of stabbing someone, but there's no research about the "unhealthy stabbing potential" of them.
  • Listening Levels? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cetroyer (805668) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:22AM (#16515173)
    It always bothers me when the iPod gets blamed for "dangerous listening levels". Isn't is the listener's choice how loud he/she wants to hear his/her music?

    And why single out the iPod (granted, it is one of the most popular music playing devices out there...) when listening to any loud sound over time is damaging to one's hearing?

    cetroyer

  • Re:Rotting away!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:22AM (#16515175)
    "Leaps and bounds" is relative.

    And, frankly, the only place to go from rock bottom is up. So it was bound to happen eventually.

    But, that said, Apple has been making a lot of smart, shrewd moves lately. The iPod may have fallen into their laps (I suspect it went WAY beyond even their expectations), but they've definitely been making the most out of it. The close link between the hardware of the iPod and the software of iTunes was a very smart move on their part (as is their steadfast insistence on maintaining the $.99/song model). Adding video was smart too. And Bootcamp was absolutely BRILLIANT (bet that will win over a LOT of Windows users and gamers).

    -Eric

  • Re:Rotting away!? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by shaneh0 (624603) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:29AM (#16515275)
    Every dime of profit that Apple has earned the last few years has come from the iPod. Remove the iPod from their stable, and they break even, and in some quarters even post a loss. The company would be a backwater. Stagnate. And a stock price that matches.

    One one hand, you can't be surprised. The iPod defines a whole market. On the other, well, they better pray they can fend off 'ipod killers' because killing the iPod is not much different than killing Apple, and there's no shortage of companies that wouldn't mind doing that.
  • by jigjigga (903943) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:42AM (#16515419)
    no, that is why we have dynamic range... oh wait, its an ipod, an mp3, and you want to listen to it in the car. You can either run a normalizer, which makes it sound like absolute crap- kills the life out of the music, you can run replay gain on it to check for volume levels and spikes, or you can listen to music in a quiet room like you are supposed to!
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:44AM (#16515449) Homepage Journal
    It just doesn't make any sense, it's like Apple is using some jedi mind trick to sell overpriced average hardware.


    And of course, when they've been the most successful at this game, it's been Steve Jobs behind the wheel.

    You might be trolling, but I'm not. Steve Jobs is a marketing genius. He's figured out how to sell hardware that has little to no technological advantages over many of its competitors at prices that are, on average, much higher than the competition.

  • by ePhil_One (634771) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:58AM (#16515575) Journal
    He's figured out how to sell hardware that has little to no technological advantages over many of its competitors


    Maybe, just maybe, he's figured out that many people care about usability more than technical specs? Geeks know this, case manufacturers broke down and started eliminating the case full of razor wire issues when the geeks started flocking to a case that cost 10% more but had smooth edges and wouldn't shred their hands every time they swapped a component. But when Apple does this for consumer electronics, they assume Jedi mind tricks and marketing brainwashing...

  • As bad as BSD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sheriff_p (138609) on Friday October 20, 2006 @10:06AM (#16515659)
    What gets on my nerves is the endless stream of "iPODS ARE DEAD" articles written by talentless IT-writers. Every week, at least, some half-witted pundit is telling the world how the iPod is just about to die out. It's annoying.

    -sheriff
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday October 20, 2006 @10:08AM (#16515673)
    You might be trolling, but I'm not. Steve Jobs is a marketing genius. He's figured out how to sell hardware that has little to no technological advantages over many of its competitors at prices that are, on average, much higher than the competition.

    One reason behind the success of the iPod is that it wasn't designed for those who care about technological advantage. It was designed for the average consumer. By integrating iTunes, iTunes Store, and the iPod, Apple made it ridiculously easy for someone without much computer saavy to get digital music and carry it with them. The iPod UI is also easy to use.

    Also the technological advantage is fleeting. In many cases Apple was not the first to have a feature. But in some cases it was. If memory serves me correctly the Nomad which was compared to the iPod was larger but could not be used a portable harddrive. The click wheel, some would argue, is a major advantage in UI. The fifth generation had video, etc.

  • by operagost (62405) on Friday October 20, 2006 @10:25AM (#16515883) Homepage Journal
    I'd say that after about 25 years of portable music players going back to the Sony Walkman, adults should have a pretty good idea of the sound pressure capabilities of tiny earphones driven by batteries.
  • by noewun (591275) on Friday October 20, 2006 @10:32AM (#16515953) Journal
    He's figured out how to sell hardware that has little to no technological advantages over many of its competitors. . .

    Repeat after me: Technological advantage does not sell products. Technological advantage does not sell products. Technological advantage does not sell products. Technological advantage does not sell products. . .

    I'm not yelling at you, actually, but I do think it's something which should be included in every article about Apple. There is a conceit on Slashdot that the gadget with the most bells and whistles is obviously superior and deserves to dominate the market. While possibly true for technophiles, most people aren't technophiles. Most people want something they can understand which is easy to use. They don't care if it doesn't play obscure formats most have never heard about or if it plays their movie collection at full HD resolution. They want to listen to their music without much trouble and get one with their lives.

    Which brings up a larger point: Most of the time the Slashdot opinion is the minority opinion.

  • by The Cydonian (603441) on Friday October 20, 2006 @10:41AM (#16516065) Homepage Journal
    It's funny how nerds love technology, but are such naysayers when something new and revolutionary comes along.

    Nerds aren't naysayers, Slashdotters are. They weren't always like this; they might not realize it themselves, but the core demographic here is aging quite rapidly. Look at it this way:- most of the crowd here in 1999-2000-ish was in university, or just about to graduate. Now they're well entrenched in their careers, and what's worse, have seen dizzying tech-otupian predictions get crushed in a sabre-rattling bust.

    Btw, a slight tangent, but with the full weight of five ipod-generations upon me, I hereby nominate this [slashdot.org] to be the most insightful of all the 1075 posts in that discussion. You haven't understood the ipod in a techno-marketing sense unless you realize why the ipod was different from other mp3 players then. That was it.

  • by Anonymous MadCoe (613739) <maakiee@NoSpam.yahoo.com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:14AM (#16516537) Homepage
    I get your point, but personally I like to have 3 devices. I want to have the option of not having one specific device with me. For example my PDA holds my business contacts and notes, I do mind losing that in a club, while I do want to bring my phone (which does not contain such sensitive information).
  • by fruey (563914) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:21AM (#16516611) Homepage Journal
    Good points mate.

    Let's not forget that American slang is more widely disseminated via TV series (massively exported around the world) and Hollywood film output. I've heard British children speak with American accents because they watch American cartoons, series and films all the time.

    Now, back when Neighbours and Home & Away (Aussie soap operas) were popular in England, you heard British children say things like "daggy" (uncool) and "mate" (friend) a lot, as well as other terms I now forget.

    I like Aussie slang, being a Brit I think I'm more exposed to it than Americans.
  • by Gadgetfreak (97865) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:36AM (#16516845)
    Nope, that's dominant factor. Sure, it was one of the better players, usability wise, and iTunes made it easy for people to just spend away... but it was clearly style that put it far ahead of the pack as "the" player to have.

    The trick was selling a gadget to non-gadget people. It created a market rather than filled a massive void... where far more people bought the product than probably ever wished they had an easy to use music player in the first place. People liked being seen with it. It was trendy just to have one. It still is, to some extent. People bought them without even really researching other players.

    But like cell phones, which were the first gadget to become an acceptable fashion statement, iPods are starting to suffer from feature bloat and quick obsolesence. How many more things can you cram into the 'new' iPod before it becomes something else entirely? It'll start competing with itself, unless they keep breaking...
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:59AM (#16517225)
    Of course it was the best one in the market. It was well-designed and had the click wheel. You like nice cars over bulldozers, don't you?

    "Overpriced?" Did you miss the recent price drop that even caught Microsoft off-guard and forced them to lower the price on the Zune?
  • by Lars T. (470328) <Lars@Traeger.googlemail@com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:59AM (#16517237) Journal
    I don't get the iPod success.
    Neither did the makers of "iPod Killer"s.
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:02PM (#16517273)
    But like cell phones, which were the first gadget to become an acceptable fashion statement, iPods are starting to suffer from feature bloat and quick obsolesence. How many more things can you cram into the 'new' iPod before it becomes something else entirely? It'll start competing with itself, unless they keep breaking...

    I love when people make these ominous predictions without citing anything. How is the iPod starting to suffer from feature bloat and quick obsolescence? Do you have any user surveys that you're basing your conclusion on? Sales figures? Anything? After all, people around here were complaining that not enough new features were introduced with the recent iPod update, which took longer than usual to come out (to the point that analysts were concerned), so the "Showtime" event sort of contradicts both of your claims, don't you think?
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:08PM (#16517377)
    Which brings up a larger point: Most of the time the Slashdot opinion is the minority opinion.

    And if you want proof, go back and read the Slashdot story concerning the iPod mini announcement. Doom-and-gloom predictions left and right from everybody. Yet it becomes the #1 selling iPod.

    Some Slashdotters seem to see everything through the veil of a technical specs list without seeing the whole product. It illustrates a real lack of understanding about what actually makes for good technology--applicability and accessibility, not technical superiority. People don't want an ugly, hard-to-use device with an engineering name like "Sony xc451" even if it plays OGG. In retrospect, it's braindead obvious that people are going to want a music-playing device to look and feel really nice, just like they want their automobiles to look and feel really nice (yes, I know car analogies are tired).

    Steve Jobs said recently that a lot of people get it wrong in assuming "design" refers to just the look of something, while Apple believes design refers to how it works and how it functions for the user. The iPod's look spawns from that ala the clickwheel.
  • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:21PM (#16518313)
    It's funny how nerds love technology, but are such naysayers when something new and revolutionary comes along.


    If you assume that every new high-tech invention is going to be a dismal failure in the market, you'll be right over 99% of the time. Nobody yet has found any way to predict which ones will fall into the tiny fraction that make a profit.

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