Has Apple Forgotten the iPod?

Apple - Forgetting something?

Apple - Forgetting something?

Apple‘s announcements this week are all over the web. At their annual WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference), they touted new MacBook Pros, iPhones and more. But what about for the pop culture fan? Somehow it seems like Apple is leaving them behind.

When the iPhone was announced, it was a combination of a phone, a net browser and an iPod. Since launch, the interface of that iPod has, really, not changed.

Amongst the highly tech-y new announcements were some things that relate to pop culture.

1. The new Quicktime X. Looks quite interesting, and is set to launch in September with the new operating system. We like the look of it, and lets face it, there is no GREAT video player at the moment. We mix about with the current Quicktime, VLC, Windows Media Player, iTunes for some, our DVD playing program (add YouTube, BBC iPlayer and more – wouldn’t it be great if that was all in one screen?). It looks a lot neater and nicer, but will it do much more than the existing quicktime? With Apple doing such great business on video in the US, it would be great to see them lead in this area. But hey, anyone else who wants to take the crown here, we welcome you.

More here – http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/03/07/a_peek_at_apples_new_quicktime_x_interface.html

2. Line 6/Planet Waves unveiled a new application for guitarists. It’s basically an all in one guitar amp simulator. Pretty cool, but is there a line out? I can’t imagine people using their phones over a decent piece of music gear. Especially as they botched the presentation. We couldn’t tell if that was a real guitar or some new piece of hardware. Coolest thing though – setting the tuning of your guitar on the phone.

More here – http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/06/08/iphone_os_3_0_app_highlights_tomtom_gps_line_6_more.html

3. We can now buy and rent TV shows and movies from iTunes over 3G on the iPhone. If only they weren’t over priced already, and if only I didn’t have to pay data charges on top of that. Fail.

4. The new iPhone operating system promised a hundred new features, only some of which were presented. Maybe there is new functionality in the iPod side of things but we wont know til June 17th when it’s released.

It’s clear that Apple‘s current success and acclaim started with one product – the iPod. They took full advantage, but it seems like in recent years they have forgotten about the poor iPod. Last year’s changes amounted to very little. Genius has been given a lukewarm response. It will be interesting come September to see what changes Apple brings to the iPod line. Or is the iPod over? And the gaming/internet/all-in-one device like the iPhone going to rule us all? We don’t know, but we don’t know many people who use their iPhones over their iPod, especially if they need more that 16GB.

There seemed like hundreds and hundreds more announcements from Apple during their WWDC. There’s great coverage over at Apple Insider – http://www.appleinsider.com/

and hey, we took our image from the great site gadget site Gizmodo.

New Zune HD – US only

The new Zune HD

The new Zune HD

We don’t hate the Zune. Actually, more accurately – we don’t want to hate the Zune. But Zune don’t make it easy for us. Firstly, they don’t make the thing available to us.

According to the press release this week for the latest one called Zune HD, the 7th model in 3 years, looks like they are sticking to American shores.

Giving it a chance, lets have a look. The new hook is the touchscreen. It’s Zune‘s challenger to the iPod Touch. Throwing in wi-fi capabilities and a browser is a good move. The final touch is the HD functions – access to HD radio and the ability to output HD video to other devices (like your TV). No word on capacities, but we assume 16 or 32GB. We’ve not heard on price either but Zune has a habit of following Apple here too.

It’s an interesting match for the iPod Touch. But we don’t think it’s enough to beat it, or even dent it. The big one is the radio function. But HD radio is small beans. And will it be enough to tear someone away from Google maps, or the 40K apps that are available to Touch users? iPod Touch‘s message these days is all about the apps – the funnest iPod ever. Zune have not announced anything in terms of games, but one can assume they will.

We like the iPod Touch design better, but the Zune doesn’t look too bad either. We could go either way depending on the functionality. Price is the big unknown. If Zune undercuts Apple significantly in this economy, it could finally get Zune into the game.

It’s all a moot point as outside of the US Zune is a joke and will continue to be. There is no excitement, no vibe. And if Zune continues to simply try to match, rather than exceed Apple, then they are going to lose. There is no vision. Nothing to be excited about or to believe in. A joke.

Slightly more interesting was the announcement that Zune is selling videos internationally on the Xbox platform. This could mean big things if they could follow it with music.

We’re not writing the Zune off just yet, but they have a long way to go.

Official Zune HD site – http://www.zune.net/en-us/mp3players/zunehd/default.htm

IPod '09 rumours begin

The current iPod family

The current iPod family

It’s May and we are starting to get rumours of this year’s iPods. For the last few years without fail, Apple has unveiled a new range of iPods in September. And every year, Apple fanatics try to piece together leaked tips from inside the Apple bubble and predict what is coming.

Generally, it is considered Apple’s ’08 refresh was a disappointment. The year before they launched the game-changing iPod Touch. They also made a 160GB iPod classic with a new interface, making the core device pretty much untouchable. Nanos and the Shuffle continued strong. Last year’s addition of the Genius function and a new shape for the Nano failed to set the world alight.

The first rumours we are hearing is from Macrumours. The addition of a camera in the iPod Touch and maybe even the Nano. It seems pretty certain that the new iPhones will have VIDEO camera capabilities. This could be a cool new feature in the iPod product line. The other rumour is the rainbow range of colours across all lines.

We’re not sure it’s a big enough change to impress the world at large. But then again, what is? The iPod works so well – the fact that it just works is one of the reasons it’s the best in the business.

What we would like to see? The classic/nano interface could be vastly improved. Better cataloging for video and podcasts. We see the thousands of new features for the new iPhone and we wonder if the iPod is being left behind. We hope not.

We’ll find out in September.

Apple UK –http://www.apple.com/uk/

Certified financial planning for the Zune

Microsoft is really gunning for Apple. And their weapon of choice is price. It’s almost scare tactics. A series of ‘Laptop Hunter’ ads have been floating around, pitting PC laptops against Macs. Now, the fight is being taken to the Ipod/Zune arena.

(You know Zune, right? Craig Ferguson put it best. “Bill Gates is trying to break the iPod‘s Stranglehold on the iPod market.”)

Some crazy accounting here. I like how this guy, ‘Wes Moss’, is a certified financial planner.

Wes, by the way, was fired from the Apprentice – http://www.theapprenticerules.com/candidates/profile-wes-moss.html

OK. Let’s stop here. This is not a Microsoft bash. Although – they make it so easy.

Our problem is that this ad, and Microsoft‘s whole schtick at the moment, is misleading.

This whole price, price, price scare is – well, scary.

Putting on some dude from the Apprentice as a Financial planner, playing into families fears of the economy to stomp their wares. It reminds me of when politicians yell higher taxes into the sky in hopes of making people vote with their wallets.

And the mathematics just ain’t true. In dire economic times, does anyone want to add a new monthly bill to the burden? Who doesn’t already carry at least some music library with them? Don’t I need a new, not terribly cheap Zune to take advantage of this? And once I cancel my subscription, I can only keep 10 tracks a month. As Zune only reaches Canada and the US, if a customer moves, they have lost most of their library and have paid far more than a buck a song.

Zune is not here in Europe yet and everyone knows why. They are already struggling at home, and they don’t have what it takes to get out into the world. They really have to lift their game if they want to survive.

Our favourite Zune bashing video after the jump

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The Future is Written. On Amazon's Kindle.

Jeff Bezos announcing the Kindle DX

Jeff Bezos announcing the Kindle DX

The big news this week from gadget land is the new, bigger, better, faster, stronger Kindle. It has yet to be released outside of the US, but it’s already making quite an impact. In short, it’s a digital reader, capable of storing thousands of books. The model released this week, the DX, is magazine sized.

We like this. We like this A LOT. We really want one.

But lucky for us, we’re in Europe and can’t actually get one yet. We think it’s one or two more versions away from really, really kicking ass.

Here’s some of the things we like about it:

– It’s a great idea. Hey, I like books. I also like some of my CD box sets, my vinyl etc. But I still have an iPod. And I have hundreds of books that I don’t want to throw out, but I don’t have the space. The e-reader is an idea whose time is almost upon us.

– The readability. Not that we have actually seen anything other than photos, but the ‘e-ink’ technology has always been Kindle’s big hook. This is not a computer screen, the thing reads like ink on paper.

– The whispernet service. Sounds like sci-fi TV show, but it’s basically the 3G book delivery service. You don’t even have to plug it into your computer. And it’s free.

– Amazon tracks all your purchases. You’ll never accidentally delete something.

– It’s robust. 3,500 books can fit on the thing. And can last two weeks on a single charge.

– The books available seem pretty cool. US only newspapers only of course, but I can see this really expanding. You can also keep your own documents on there.

– Pretty cool features. Auto rotate. Text size adjust. Dictionary included. Bookmarking. We have not ever held one, but we’ve only read decent-to-good things about the interface. Apparently there is basic web access as well.

What is bugging us:

– Colour. Really. It took the print world a while to get it together, but the time for this to happen in the digital world should be a lot less. If we are really looking at graphics rich magazines, textbooks and newspapers, then this really needs to be colour.

– The design, still a bit clunky to us.

– Price. $500US? I will have to buy a lot of books for this to become worth it. Plus you need to buy a cover for it.

– It plays music and podcasts (and has a headphone jack) but who wants an iPod the size of a small pizza?

– I wonder if you can print the odd page here and there if, for some reason, really needed to?

– There’s a big of a rigmarole involved in converting files for the Kindle. Setting up an email address, emailing your file and if you want it sent to your Kindle, there is a small fee. This has to get better.

So, lucky we don’t live in the US because we would be tempted.

But that’s all so nuts and bolts.

Imagine the possibilities! We love comics here at GLF, imagine having our favourites sent to us automatically every month? Add our favourite magazines to that thought as well.

It will be great for extended travel. But imagine a collection of Lonely Planet guides that are instantly update-able? And in interchangeable languages?

Speaking of languages…Language textbooks with embedded audio?

And speaking of embedded audio…Clinton Heylin just released a book about every Bob Dylan song. Imagine being able to hear the songs right there and then. And while I’m at it, can my Amazon Mp3s come with Kindle booklets as an option?

The possibilities are great for business. Imagine being able to send documents across a boardroom table. Have that weekly TPS report update automatically for you.

So, did we mention we love it? We also like the highly pretentious and philosophical approach they have for this device, currently painted on the front of Amazon.com. The ‘paperless’ society. I want to go to there.

We think people are more excited about the idea than the device right now. But Amazon are making big moves. This year we have seen two models and (strangely?) an iPhone app. They are rightly proud and it’s only a matter of time before all their hard work pays off, and the world at large will be ready for this.

And we’ll be right there with them.

Cool links and bad video after the jump.
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