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Next Generation of iPods to have Wi-Fi? 224

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the buying-on-the-go dept.
Zephyr14z writes "A TMCnet article states that Apple has filed a patent for iPods that can purchase music wirelessly over the internet. This was an expected feature in the Zune, though it turns out not to be true. 'While this could be an effort to fight the software giant and its product directly, it should be noted that Zune's built-in Wi-Fi will be limited to the file sharing between devices with no direct Internet purchases from the handheld,' says Campbell."
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Next Generation of iPods to have Wi-Fi?

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  • Odd, first of all, that this article appears in YRO (because it involves a patent?); second, and odder still, is Susan Campbell's commentary:

    Apple and its iPod didn't earn its throne in the portable music player industry because it had the easiest to use player that offered the best song selection. This success also didn't come because it offered the most competitive price. Apple has been able to dominate this market because of its marketing campaign, pure and simple.

    O RLY? As far as I can tell, Susan seems to be a ressentissante Microsoft shill:

    Apple did borrow a winning strategy from Microsoft in keeping its technology proprietary. [Emphasis mine]

    Suffice to say, even the slickest market campaign can't account alone for iPod's success; just look at the PS3 or Zune: you can't pull the wool over everyone's eyes all the time.

    That said, if Apple does introduce Wi-Fi (or an iPod cell-phone, for that matter), it will be on its own time; and not because it's scared of Zune.



    •         Apple did borrow a winning strategy from Microsoft in keeping its technology proprietary. [Emphasis mine]

      Suffice to say, even the slickest market campaign can't account alone for iPod's success; just look at the PS3 or Zune: you can't pull the wool over everyone's eyes all the time.


      Perhaps more importantly, if apple has the patent, microsoft doesn't

      It might be more of a blocking exercise than anything else - apple has a perfectly good model for sales, and might just be doing this to prevent other models from happening.

      Probably being paranoid here

      Michael
    • The reason to be afraid of the Zune is simple: Microsoft has a ridiculous amount of money to spend:

      http://thingsguyslike.blogspot.com/2006/10/microso ft-home-entertainment.html [blogspot.com]

      $5bn in losses so far, and still no profits at the Home Entertainment division of Microsoft. If they wanted, they could give Zunes away for 10 years. It's hard to compete against that kind of financial muscle.
      • by pubjames (468013) on Friday October 27, 2006 @08:25AM (#16607328)
        If they wanted, they could give Zunes away for 10 years. It's hard to compete against that kind of financial muscle.

        This is a common argument about Microsoft. However, it is only partly true. Microsoft has shareholders. Microsoft cannot just throw money away, it has to be something that will potentially bring big profits in the future.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shaneh0 (624603)
        If I was in charge at MSFT, I'd never give away Zunes. I'd give away the music.

        How many people would buy a Zune over an iPod if it included 50 free songs? Or maybe 5 free songs a month for 3 years.

        Another idea would be an "iPod exchange" program. Turn in any working iPod and get a free Zune w/ more storage. (turn in a 60gb iPod, get an 80gb Zune, etc). Similarly, buy a zune and get free credits for any music purchased thru iTMS so you can download the songs from the MSFT store for free.

        Obviously the iPod ex
    • by RiffRafff (234408) on Friday October 27, 2006 @08:18AM (#16607280) Homepage
      There's tons of better sounding players out there. Try an iRiver or Cowon with some decent headphones. The sonic quality far outstrips that of Apple's iPod. These other players just aren't "hip," apparently.
      • by BurningBridges (1013063) on Friday October 27, 2006 @08:40AM (#16607460)
        They are also, IMO More expensive, and more difficult to use, as a rule. The general public doesn't notice the difference unless you show them, their friends all have one, and they are easy to use, so they get an iPod. Personally I am a big iRiver fan :)
      • Not in my experience (Score:5, Informative)

        by NixLuver (693391) <stwhiteNO@SPAMkcheretic.com> on Friday October 27, 2006 @08:55AM (#16607612) Homepage Journal
        I've had iRivers, Creatives, Sansas, Sonys - no Cowan, so I'll have to give it a wash on that one. But all in all, I've had eight different manufacturer's digital audio player, and frankly, my iPod sounds the best by far. Side-by-side plug/unplug cycles convinced me and many others who happened to be around for a test. (Started at a party where a friend said his MDplayer smoked the iPod for audio quality... even he agreed that he was wrong after a direct plug-unplug audio test). None of them has had the functionality of my iPod, nor the sound quality. I don't care about 'hip' - in fact, it was that fact - that the iPod was 'hip' - that kept me from buying one until last year.
      • You are half, maybe two-thirds correct. Decent headphones make a HUGE difference, but most of the players sound about the same. The iPod is "hip" and is one of the reasons it sells. Another is that it works so seamlessly with iTunes & iTMS. Even the most braindead people I know were able to figure out how to use an iPod. They are small, look cool, etc. All in all it simply a solid product.
      • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbearNO@SPAMpacbell.net> on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:51AM (#16608282) Homepage
        Try an iPod with some decent headphones. The sonic quality far outstrips that of Apple's headphones. These other players just aren't USABLE. Truly. It took them several iterations after the release of the iPod to approach the ease of use of the iPod.
      • Try using an iPod with decent headphones. Or maybe you prefer a loaded comparison so as to make you feel better about the purchase you made.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AmberBlackCat (829689)

        There's tons of better sounding players out there. Try an iRiver or Cowon with some decent headphones. The sonic quality far outstrips that of Apple's iPod. These other players just aren't "hip," apparently.

        Maybe the iPod sounds good enough. I know a couple of people who were in no hurry to switch from audio cassettes to compact discs because a metal tape with Dolby B noise reduction was good enough for them. I have a cousin who still uses her VCR to record television right now because it's adequate. And

    • by SEMW (967629) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:11AM (#16607792)
      >just look at the PS3 or Zune: you can't pull the wool over everyone's eyes all the time.

      Don't count your chickens before they're hatched. Slashdot readers may have a good idea of the real issues behind the PS3 and Sony's tactics, especially, but Slashdot readers are not a significant proportion of Joe Public. To the average consumer, "Sony" still conjures up images of reasonably reliable shiny metal consumer electronics, not RIAA lawsuits, rootkit CDs, or the Blu-ray DRM debacle. Sorry to tell you, but it's the advertising and PR campaigns alone that will make or break the PS3; it's how well they can sell that their product is really worth $600. Same applied to the Zune. What Slashdot readers consider "the real issues" will factor into it little if at all.
    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:26AM (#16607962)
      Apple and its iPod didn't earn its throne in the portable music player industry because it had the easiest to use player that offered the best song selection. This success also didn't come because it offered the most competitive price. Apple has been able to dominate this market because of its marketing campaign, pure and simple.

      I would have to say that Apple of all companies, did market the iPod better than their competitors. They made an MP3 player (which at the time considered a geek's gadget) cool. But they also made the technology easy to use for the average consumer. Considering the alternatives when the iPod came out. Flash MP3 players that could store 32MB or 64MB. That capacity is well under two CDs, and portable CD players were cheap. Also it was a pain to get music onto them. Or something like the Nomad which had more capacity (6GB) but couldn't be used as a hard drive and was the size of a portable CD player.
      Enter the iPod. It can be used a portable hard drive. It fit in your pocket. It could store enough songs to last for days. It was easy to use. It was easy to sync (and it got easier later). Is it a surprise it took over the market. And Apple unlike some of their competitors kept innovating? I had a Rio 32MB player. The only thing that the next model added was more capacity.

      Apple did borrow a winning strategy from Microsoft (News - Alert) in keeping its technology proprietary. However, this strategy doesn't seem to be enough to keep the fruity giant on top as consumers are beginning to tire of the iPod and iTunes restrictions. This patent could either protect Apple's vision or tarnish its appeal in the eyes of the consumer. Either way - watch out for more news from Johansen and DoubleTwist Ventures as we have likely not heard the last from him.

      The factor behind Apple's DRM is not Apple. It is the music companies. I don't think Apple cares if you use your iPod to share all your music with everyone. But the RIAA might. As for restrictions, these are not unique to Apple. PlaysForSure limits you as well. And MS new Zune DRM is identical to Apple's strategy.

    • Suffice to say, even the slickest market campaign can't account alone for iPod's success; just look at the PS3 or Zune:

      Huh? Do you really think that, in 18 months, we will not be talking about the PS3? The Zune is practically stillborn but the PS3 has a nearly guaranteed gigantic launch. Besides, you referenced 'slick marketing campaigns', of which I've seen just billboards for the PS3 and fuck-all for Zune. I agree that the iPod is not just about marketing but you picked some strange illustrations.

  • Apple has many patents, including this one. That does not mean that it immediately will be applied in any of Apple's products. Stop spreading rumours based on patents.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      That does not mean that it immediately will be applied in any of Apple's products.
      Oh, it's worse than that... this patent decreases the odds that anybody else will finally get around to implementing this obvious feature. I only hope it only covers buying music vi WiFi, and not selectively downloading music from your own computer via WiFi, or buying and storing music wirelessly using a 3G or other cellphone network.
      • by Cloud 9 (42467)
        buying and storing music wirelessly using a 3G or other cellphone network.

        I haven't been able to find the patent filing yet, so I don't know the scope. However, if that's one of their goals with this patent, Verizon Wireless already has prior art with their VCast Music service.

  • need cable anyway? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spectrokid (660550) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:47AM (#16607014) Homepage
    You need to hook it up anyway to recharge. Just using Wifi to download music means they will have to cram a lot of iTunes/iStore functionality into the ipod. Byebye simple userinterface... How about security? Either they make you enter your credit card number with the clickwheel(????) or else it gets "linked" to your iPod on the Apple servers. Lose your iPod and the thief can shop around on your card... The whole point about the iPod is that all complexity is parked in iTunes.
    • by bilbravo (763359)
      I agree this is stupid, but not sure about the credit card fiasco. I entered my credit card through Apple's website when setting up an Apple ID. Then iTunes only uses your Apple ID. I suppose they could get your password from it somehow, but more than likely it would just link the iPod to your account and verify that way.

      I see lots of issues with this plan.
    • Surely they're linked through the DRM system anyway?
    • by (H)elix1 (231155)
      You need to hook it up anyway to recharge.

      You need a cable to recharge, but I'd view it like Ethernet or wireless. Of course copper is faster, but there are times where it is just not convenient. My blackberry, for instance, uses a USB cable to recharge and do data. I can feed it power with my wife's cell phone charger too which is nothing more than a wall wart and USB cable. I'd like to have my cake and eat it too with an Ipod... Just another opinion.
    • by oc255 (218044)
      Hook it up to recharge? Apple needs to hire Tesla and work on wireless power. Or maybe consult with Highlander.

      From the iPod Gen 9 Manual, Section 5.6
      When your iPod runs out of power there is an easy way to recharge it.
      1. Hold up your unit to the sky
      2. Scream "there can be only one"
      3. Wait for the charging icon to disappear during The Quickening process

      Then we really would look like the people in the iPod ads, solid black ... burned to a crisp.

    • by BRSQUIRRL (69271)
      I'll give you one great use of iPod+WiFi that wouldn't require a lot of complex functionality on the iPod itself: podcasts. All of the feed URLs for the podcasts to which you are subscribed sync to the iPod from iTunes. The iPod can then, when connected to a WiFi hotspot, grab the latest podcasts without having to be connected to a PC.

      I would personally love this for long car trips, as I wouldn't need to bring along my laptop just to grab the latest podcasts when I stop at Starbucks.
    • Got a cell phone? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by *weasel (174362)
      People buy music and games on their cellphones all the time.

      They'll connect their CC# to an iTunes account, to the iPod, and not think twice about it.
      Losing their pod is a potential issue, but so is losing your phone.
      People just don't seem too concerned. They should probably be a bit more concerned, but they're not.

      Apple could even toss a 5 or 6 digit pin on there and an X retry lockout if they wanted, passing the 'security' on your ATM or CC itself, without a serious UI hassle.

      And the click wheel is good e
  • So iPods are successful, in part because they understood that what people need, above all else in a music player is simplicity. So you can't manage you music on the iPod, you manage them on your computer.

    Now I can see that it is possible using the new search facility to access and select songs from the iTunes store (if the new iPods had wireless), but surely one of the great things about an iPod is that you can't.

    Just because you can use a scroll wheel for text entry and pointing doesn't mean that you shoul
    • by NixLuver (693391)
      Either in this patent or another one filed this week, they included a full-surface touch screen; I don't think we have to worry about Apple releasing an iPod with a click-wheel 'alpha' keyboard for regular usage.
  • Finally (Score:4, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:49AM (#16607032) Homepage Journal
    CmdrTaco must feel important that they got round to listening to his ideas.
    I wonder if they will increase capacity as well ;)

    No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:51AM (#16607056)
    This move is long overdue. Hopefully Apple will do a better job than Microsoft did. It is *so* 90's to have to dock your player just to get music into it. The technology exists today to make a very capable wireless media player, what is missing is someone (Apple?) to make it useful and functional. The possibilities are endless. Imagine "Mall Radio Stations", audio lectures or supplemental material distributed wirelessly to all the students in the classroom, having a playlist at a party that is a composite of all the wireless devices in the room/house. Let the next wave of portable music players begin!
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      The technology exists today to make a very capable wireless media player

      I don't know.. I looked at my sister's mobile phone -- you just right click a bunch of files you selected, click send to -> [phone name]. And.. that was it. Music was uploaded (via bluetooth) and immediately available. Seems the technology is already here.

      what is missing is someone (Apple?) to make it useful and functional.

      Is this another one of those things where you need to download their proprietary software that works so-so unde

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LaughingCoder (914424)

        Seems the technology is already here.

        That's what I said. It's not a technology issue. And when I tout the use of wireless, in my mind the *right* way to do it is to seemlessly blend cellular wireless with WIFI. Imagine a device that could do both (some PDA phones can do this) ... you start a download on WIFI as you leave the house and get into your car. Your WIFI signal drops and the download application automatically opens up a cell connection and continues the download. At the same time your car's radio

      • Most malls have speakers already...

        ... forcing everyone to listen to the same, bland content. With wireless, your device could "tell" the mall your music tastes and a customized station could be streamed to you ... heck, that station could even include ads for stores in the mall that would appeal to you based on demographics.

        Assuming one replaces all their equipment...

        No, the party host would have a wireless-capable receiver. Then each guest that happened to have a (compatible - i.e. Apple "WiPod") wire

    • by hcdejong (561314)
      The technology exists today to make a very capable wireless media player,

      Not as long as you've still got to plug it in anyway to recharge, it doesn't.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by LaughingCoder (914424)

        Not as long as you've still got to plug it in anyway to recharge, it doesn't.

        By that argument cell phones are not useful because you have to plug them in to recharge them. When I retire each evening I put my cellphone on a charger. Then all day long I use it wirelessly. Why does everyone insist on tying these 2 activities (charging with downloading) together? Sure, if the only way I can put music into my device is from my PC, then having a cradle that also charges is convenient. But that is not the only us

  • Soniqcast Aireo had wifi and you were able to get audible content wirelessly at hotspots with it. No it's technicaly not music but it's the same thing at it's core. I could access my audible library, download a book and then have it on my player if I forgot to grab it at home I could grab it at starbucks on my way to work.
  • Finally... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Espectr0 (577637) on Friday October 27, 2006 @07:58AM (#16607114) Journal
    ...Taco will be happy. Wi-Fi. More space than a Nomad. Not Lame.
  • Seriously. How could they get a a patent on this? Is wireless the new "on the internet!" when it comes to patents?

    • I'm going to patent displaying a list... on the internet!
    • I'm going to patent buying music online... wireless!
    • How could they get a a patent on this?

      TFA doesn't say what the patent actually claims but my bet is it is for something quite specific. Perhaps it comes down to the issue another poster raised: how do you retain the pc-ipod relationship if the ipod is out at starbucks buying music?

      Maybe the ipod has to log in to the itunes server as the copy of itunes on the pc.

      • how do you retain the pc-ipod relationship if the ipod is out at starbucks buying music

        If you have broadband, and if you are using iTMS you probably do, I don't see why you wouldn't have the option to have iTMS send a copy of anything you download via wireless to your hard drive as well.

        You sit at Starbucks downloading My War directly to your iPod, you and your fellow iPodders bandwidthally challenging Starbucks' WRT54G. Meanhile, back at the ranch, iTMS, having secured your permission to do so, places

        • by kelzer (83087)

          If you have broadband, and if you are using iTMS you probably do, I don't see why you wouldn't have the option to have iTMS send a copy of anything you download via wireless to your hard drive as well.

          You sit at Starbucks downloading My War directly to your iPod, you and your fellow iPodders bandwidthally challenging Starbucks' WRT54G. Meanhile, back at the ranch, iTMS, having secured your permission to do so, places My War on your hard drive without needing you to click any Oks or reboot or otherwise

          • by kelzer (83087)

            With WiFi, syncing becomes even less painless.

            Oops, coffee hasn't quite kicked in yet. That was supposed to be "even more painless", or "even less painful", or maybe "even painless-er".

          • I successfully procrastinated installing iTunes 7 until a couple days ago, and have done nothing more than use it to fill up a new iPod, so I wasn't aware.

            What I was thinking though, was that your newly-purchased-via-wireless-at-Starbucks file would already be sitting on your HD at home without the need to sync. I don't know what the need for that might be, but that has never stopped Apple before.
  • Manual On/Off? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Unless it has an external on/off switch, I would never own one of these. Imagine walking into a retailer, and you get an advertisement on your ipod for "the GAP does Christmas" CD they are blasting on the stores over-engineerd sound system. Better yet, it would be a hackers dream to have people walking around a crowded public place with these things turned on.
    • by MtViewGuy (197597)
      I absolutely agree. The potential for some cybercriminal to wipe out a whole bunch of WiFi-enabled iPods is a bit too tempting....
    • by argent (18001)
      I doubt it would play just anything you were walking by, or at least this would be something you could disable. It would be more sensible for it to give you an audible cue that information was available, and let you choose to stream or download the music.
  • that MS didn't already file this patent. I bet they did, and the author of the article missed it. I'd check but I don't have time to search through the mess, the swamp of MS patents for the next 3 weeks...

    They beet apple to the WiFi punch, and I'm sure they thought of this feature and just didn't have time to build the infrastructure.
  • This makes me wonder if the ability to enter text in the latest version of the video iPods (So that one could search for tracks by name/etc like one does in iTunes) was just introduced so that people could enter wifi network passwords for a future version of the iPod.
  • by dweebzilla (871704) on Friday October 27, 2006 @08:13AM (#16607240)
    What about streaming content.

    I'd love to have my ipod receive Internet radio.
  • Its sad that this would never come true...but just imagine a world without the RIAA, without DRM and without greedy companies. Imagine a world where we had a player such as the iPod that allowed you to download songs off of the internet for free from P2P servers, and that would allow you to stream or share songs with people near you.

    Imagine chatting with someone on the bus or airplane and sharing music with them or listening to the same thing. Imagine plugging in to a small local wireless network comprise

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by argent (18001)
      I don't know, but one thing I have noticed is that you can get some cool features in flash mp3 players in Asia that you can't get in the US that I've been able to tell. One is the ability to "dock" two players together by their USB ports and transfer songs that way. Hmmm...
  • One thing that certain Apple admirers do is to make up excuses for Apple's 'low hurdle' market-control restrictions on their products, such as "you can't put songs on your iPod without iTunes because the iPod's CPU isn't powerful enough* to read the song files if they're not in Apple's special hashed directories". Or "the labels won't let Apple give you the ability to transfer songs back from your iPod to iTunes".

    A TMCnet article states that Apple has filed a patent for iPods that can purchase music wireles
  • As I stated in a previous post discussing the Zune [slashdot.org], I think iTV is being developed specifically for use with an upcoming WiFi iPod (or is it the WiFiPod?).

  • Zune Wifi (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:59AM (#16608370) Homepage Journal
    I think it's important to remember who is behind the Zune. Yes, Microsoft. But more specifically, the Home & Entertainment Division (the Xbox people). Who, by the way, posted a 70% revenue increase last quarter.

    Keeping this in mind (that this is an MS product, and that it's the H&E people behind it), just because the Zune _software_ doesn't do something today (or at launch) doesn't mean it won't do it for ZuneOS "SP1"

    After all, Xbox Live didn't come out for 1 year after Xbox was shipped, and X360 1080P support was issued as a software _patch_ on the 360 after Sony thought they could use it to make noise in the competitive space. Progessive Scan dashboard support was another software patch on the original Xbox. Those products _had_ to get out in the market place at the right time to be viable, the cut list must have been severe. Everyone knew the hardware was capable of more than what it launched with, and as the Xbox team got their feet under them, and heard the real-world feedback, and had a chance to breathe a bit, some of the more interesting features that didn't make the original bar started to show up.

    I'm telling myself that the current idiotic 3/3 DRM model and the lack of wifi sync on the Zune are temporary things. They'll be corrected via a software update after the Zune launches (even if it means a Linux-based "software update" ;) )

    This is what I am _telling_ myself (and as an MS employee, I hope it turns out to be accurate) but I don't think i'll actually put my money down until I see it happen.

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