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A Recap of the iPod's Life 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 MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:01AM (#16515017)
    I wonder how high those listening levels are compared to other consumer audio listening devices? Are they that much higher than the levels from Sony Walkmen or other mp3 players?
  • by rudeboy1 ( 516023 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:04AM (#16515041)
    I have had a 1stG Mini for a while, and I liked it OK, until the battery started to fade. I got a nano this week for opening a bank account (yeah, that's right), and I have to say, I like all the improvements thus far. The nano I got has the ability to hold photos, but I wish it could put a photo in as a wallpaper, say while there's no activity going on.
    Also, I know that wireless is just around the corner. It seems like the next logical step. Wireless sync to Itunes? Yeah, I could dig that. Unfortunately, my opinion of ITunes is not as lofty. I think their DRM position is a little overbearing. Trying to transfer songs from one ipod to the other, (and really, this should have a solution, if Apple expects sales to continue, it is inevitable there will be more and more multiple-ipod homes) is a pain in the neck (without using 3rd party software). Things like pulling songs off, after iTunes has renamed the files to an unintelligble 4 letter code seems like obstination to me. For a company that boasts ease of use above all else., I think iTunes is a stinker.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:06AM (#16515057)

    Five years later, check out slashdot's very own CmdrTaco's take on the iPod's release. []

    The +5 "insightful" comments are also funny to read five years later, and proved how utterly wrong some people can be.

    It's funny how nerds love technology, but are such naysayers when something new and revolutionary comes along.

  • by RSquaredW ( 969317 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:16AM (#16515153)
    I had been holding off on buying an iPod or any other mp3 player for a while because my Mindisc still ran (great hardware, crappy software...though the hiMD update fixed a lot of issues I had with it), and I was thinking of looking for one in the next few months. Then I lost my phone, and learned that I could get a refurb Treo 650 from Cingular (and I'm sure the other cell co's have similar deals) for less than half of what an iPod costs. Music player? check. PDA? check. Phone? check. I dislike carrying around more than I have to - five belt-clipped gadgets is so 1997. A 1 GB SD card isn't expensive, so I can even get minidisc-like swapping for my music files, and I need to carry around my cell phone anyway. The sound quality is quite good with a stereo adapter and decent headphones - at least on par with the three iPods I've had to "fix" for others. I'm surprised at how many people buy these standalone gadgets, as I much prefer the all-in-one solution (which the Treo does well). I still use the MD player, even, when I want to work out, but I'm starting to see the allure of the flash-based players.
  • Volume has a purpose (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fussili ( 720463 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:18AM (#16515157)
    The fact that an iPod has such an impressive volume capacity means that you can ensure a nice hot signal to an auxiliary playback device such as your living room hifi or the car stereo.

    Unfortunately it also means that a slip on the trackpad will cause a 'splodey sensation in your ears. Still, I'm thankful that Apple had the foresight to provide that extra bit of juice. Particularly as the large range might cause producers to think twice about some of the idiotic brick-wall limiting mastering techniques that have been all the rage for the past decade or so.
  • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <.asv. .at.> on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:24AM (#16515211) Homepage Journal
    Before the ipod, there wasn't anything close to mass-market acceptance of MP3 devices. There were a boatload of no-name flash players and bulky disk based players. The original ipod was really a wow device, because there wasn't a hard disk player even close to that size and function.

    Apple really didn't have a mega-hit, until it supported ipod on windows. Originally, Apple thought of the ipod with the outdated mentality that having mac exclusive devices will sell more macs. Somehow they finally saw the light, and started to sell ipods to the other 97% of the computing market.

    What ipods really did, was publicize digital music to the masses. Before the ipod, MP3 players were not widely used or known by the general public.

  • by BecomingLumberg ( 949374 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:25AM (#16515223)
    True, but you cannot deny that iPod has the best support in Linux. I know that with normal music players you can drag and drop through the file system, but its nice to be able to do it through Amorok/Rhythmbox/Listen like the rest of the world does. Just my $0.02.
  • Re:Boycott Apple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linuxci ( 3530 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:26AM (#16515241)
    Furthermore.. I wish someone would class-action sue Apple for emotional distress to public transport users.

    Or more sensibly blame the cause of the problem, the person who has their volume turned up too high! No need to sue, just ask them nicely to turn the volume down or punch them in the head!

    People listening to headphones is not as bad as a worrying trend I've seen on some London buses when groups of kids start playing music through the speakers of their mobile phone (cell). No not ringtones, but full tracks!

    It's even worse when those tracks aren't even the real artist but are cover versions like what they sell on boltblue []. Yes, people actually pay £3 for a full track song to listen on their mobiles that's not even sung by the original artists! crazy.

  • Nice surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:28AM (#16515257)
    I moved from Mini-Disk to a 10gb iPod in 02' - what happened then was something I wasn't expecting at all.

    w/MD, I had to build various discs and carry them around, hoping what I brought matched my music mood. The iPod, however, meant I could bring everything...every song/album I had and it still had room for more.

    That also meant I could easily find something I liked, at any time. Naturally, my music library started growing at a much faster rate. The 10gb iPod is still going strong today (one new battery & 3rd set of earphones), but there is no way it could hold my entire collection now. In addition, I enjoyed a portable & bootable HD.

    Today, of course, most everyone in the family has an iPod of one version or another. I'll spring for yet another as soon as one w/WiFi hits the shelves.
  • by el_womble ( 779715 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:30AM (#16515289) Homepage
    I don't see anything logical about going to wireless.

    You've got to charge it at some point - might as well sync at the same time. I'd like to be able to share my songs freely via wireless, but that just ain't going to happen anytime soon.

    Wireless sucks battery, is a potential security risk and is slower than a cable.

    The feature I'm missing the most is DAB Radio, but thats unlikely to happen because Americans don't have it (don't you guys use satalite and/or a competing digital standard?).

    I keep playing with the idea that I'd like to be able to connect my iPod to my bluetooth headset in my bike helmet, and control it via my TomTom, but battery drain, loudness, sound quality and bulk make cabled headphones look like a superior technology (even if you can't skip tracks or switch to radio without crashing).

    In both those instances I'm quite happy to have them as accessories rather than built into the unit. I don't see why people should have to pay a premium for niche technologies they didn't want.
  • by oscartheduck ( 866357 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:44AM (#16515445)
    I was reading an interview with Steve Jobs recently in which he claimed that the reason the iPod was Mac exclusive was that record companies wanted a small sandbox in which to try out this new device, so that if it all went wrong they'd not have suffered any real damage.
  • Australian English (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @09:47AM (#16515489)
    I don't know what Shonky means, but I think that's bad.

    I also don't know what "shonky" means, but I do have some comments about Australian English. It's no secret that the Australian slang, which I think they call "strine", is just about impossible for non-Aussies to understand. Until about a month ago, I used to work for an international company that had offices in Australia and other countries around the world. As part of my job, I talked with a lot of people in different offices around the globe and customers around the world as well. Aussies will complain like nobody else in the English speaking world about the quality of someone else's English. You think Americans complain about talking to call centers in India? You haven't heard anything until you've heard an Aussie bitch about it. I have always been greatly amused by this considering that the Australian accent is arguably the harshest of all the native English speaker accents and considering how impossible to understand "strine" can be if you're not a native. A former co-worker who was a Brit expat living in Sydney told me that they also have a weird habit of chopping words in half, putting an "o" at the end, and just assuming everyone knows what they are talking about. For example, the Carleton Hotel became simply the Carlo. So don't feel bad that you don't know what "shonky" means because that means you're normal.
  • Too loud (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Smallest ( 26153 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @10:45AM (#16516109)
    i listen to my iPod at work, through Apple's basic ear-buds at, literally, the lowest volume setting. and for many songs, this is too loud - the White Stripes, for example, compress their songs and pump them up to a much higher volume than many other bands. i wish there were four or five lower volume settings below what is the current lowest.

    yet, on a plane, there is no volume setting that works with the basic ear buds - everything distorts before i can hear anything over the plane's engines. yes, i should buy better earphones, for that situation.

    life is hard
  • by AusIV ( 950840 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:27AM (#16516697)
    I completely agree.

    I can't remember the last time I listened to my iPod through headphones. I plug it into computer speakers when I'm at home, plug it into my car when I'm driving, and never go far enough to make it worth taking on a walk. Usually my iPod is playing between 80% and 90% volume, as it sends a signal to whatever auxillary device it's plugged into. On the rare occasion that I do use it with headphones, I use my noise cancelling headphones and keep the volume at about 50%. People who suggest that the high volumes only exist to destroy people's ear drums have a very narrow view of what the iPod is used for. Nobody is forcing people to listen at 100% volume, and for some purposes that volume level is actually quite useful.

  • by untouchableForce ( 927584 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @11:46AM (#16517005)
    My favorite comment from that slashdot article comes from LoudMusic (199347) "There is Apple's market. Pretty slim, eh? I don't see many sales in the future of iPod. " and the joy that it's marked 4 - Insightful. It's funny how things work out isn't it?
  • by emilyridesabmx ( 1009713 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:04PM (#16517317) Homepage
    If you ever have the chance to visit Tekserve, which is an Apple only store on 23rd Street in New York City, you'll notice they have a small 'I-Pod Museum'. It's just one glass case, but it features one of every single I-pod, even the limited edition models such as the U2 Ipod. It's pretty interesting to see the original first generation Ipod next to the newest video ones, they seem enormous. The evolution from pod to Ipod is pretty astounding when you consider how closely they were released to each other,and howmuch sleeker they have become model by model. It's quite a top notch engineering job. If you're ever in Manhattan, TekServe is definetly worth a visit if you're a Mac persob, for the Ipod's and everything else they have on display. As a disclaimer,I'm not affiliated with Tek Serve in any way, just an industrial designer who enjoys seeing progress in the flesh.
  • Apple's Pricing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:48PM (#16517857)
    "Last I looked - these things ran for $150 each at Costco for the 2GB model."

    I'm not nitpicking your comment, but I would like to point out that it does not matter where you get your iPod. It will always be the same price. Apple does not allow resellers to sell at any price other than the MSRP. They enforce their policy be cutting off or fining resellers that fail to comply.

    Speaking of Apple's sales policy, did anyone else notice that the 2GB model is only available in "plain" silver, and the only black iPod is the 8GB model. I don't think I've ever heard of a company charging people so much for specific colors! Their strategy is brilliant though, by bundling the more attractive colors with larger amounts of memory they make it easier for people paying extra to justify the purchase to themselves. It's easy to see how a technophile who was only looking to spend $150 could be persuaded to put out another $100 for the black iPod they really want because it has four times the memory! Hopefully they will revisit their MacBook pricing and make the "black fee" less obvious as well.
  • by Chode2235 ( 866375 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:11PM (#16519017)
    I think it is important to remember that ITMS was not in existane when the ipod was first released. Itunes was used to manage the songs on the iPod like it is today, but there was no store. "Rip, Mix, Burn"

    I remember when I got my 2G iPod that to use it for windows you had to use music match to do it. It totally sucked. Im surprised that it took off for windows (ie outside of the mac faithful) without decent software to manage the iPod. Apple was selling 'windows formatted' iPods without a decent solution because people wanted them that badly, myself included.

    I think discussion of the iPods success should be focused around how it succeeded and reached a critical mass, before the entire iPod ecosystem developed around it. Its obviously the choice now becuase it is THE player but how did it get started like that. I mean, I hated mac stuff then but still got the iPod.
  • by slughead ( 592713 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:37PM (#16519457) Homepage Journal
    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.

    You have muscles in your ear that dampen sounds over a period of time (I know the names but IANAPP [I am not a pedantic prick] so I'll spare you). For instance, if you're in a loud machine shop and someone fires a starter pistol, your ears will probably be OK. However, if you turn all the machines off and have it silent in the exact same room for a while before firing the pistol, you'll likely damage your ears.

    Therefore, in some cases, plugs + phones can be bad. The outside noise will cause your ears to adjust for the loudness and will attenuate the force of the sound as it enters your ears (unless you just turn up the volume too loud).

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.