Recently in iPod Category

iPhone by the Numbers

Although there haven't been any official numbers announced yet, most analysts are saying that iPhone sales have hit the half million mark within the weekend, with approximately half of those switching from other carriers to AT&T.

This is approximately 5% of their sales goal of 10 million in their first year.

First-hand accounts of the iPhone seem to all confirm that the iPhone lives up to the hype. California is completely sold out except for the San Francisco Apple Stores, and I suspect those iPhones won't last the day. As for me, I'm waiting on a few more fixes.

In other Apple-related news, Universal is considering pulling their entire catalog from iTunes. I think that such a move would be more bad than good for Universal, but if Universal wants to shoot themselves in the foot, more power to them.

Here's why I don't think it'll happen: by leaking this information, it encourages those who were sitting on the fence about purchasing an Universal iTunes song to go out and do it. For those that want to get their music online, that will force people to resort to using the Universal music branded store or pirating it. From a Joe Average viewpoint, if I can't find it on iTunes, the last thing I'm going to do is try and figure out who the publisher is to purchase the music from.

iPhone: A Short History of Lines

With the dawn of the new age of cellphones approaching in less than 2 days, I started thinking about technology, and how human anticipation of new technology has occurred.

This whole phenomenon of people camping overnight for a new product is something rather recent. Sure, we all know about the crazy Star Wars and Lord of the Rings fans who pitch tents and forsake creature comforts to buy tickets for first day showings, but that's entertainment, and people have been lining up for entertainment for centuries.

What happens on Friday, however is not the opening of a new movie or amusement park, but the release of the iPhone, a highly anticipated cellphone from Apple. Apple in the past has made the products available as soon the announcement is made. The iPhone has had a severely different play from all of Apple's other current products -- the release date of the iPhone was known weeks in advance, and as a result, people have already started lining up in order to be the first to lay ownership of the iPhone. People don't line up for new iPods, MacBooks, AppleTV or any other Apple branded products, but for some reason, people feel inclined to line up for the iPod cellphone.

To step things back a little bit, the last couple of camping lines for electronics has mostly been in the field of video game systems. People just don't do midnight sales or anticipate the release of a new DVD player or vacuum cleaner the same way people seem to be willing to wait for the latest video game system. The Wii had campers. The PS3 had campers as well, which was highly televised, with some people waiting out for days. The Xbox360 also had campers (and a slew of price gouging by big retailers), but we didn't have campers for the previous generation of game systems. PS2, GameCube and XBox were all readily available on their release date, and while all three sold out, they didn't involve camping. Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, not one of these required the average person to camp to receive one on launch day. You walked into a store, asked if they had it and purchased it if they did. In most cases, one went to Fry's or Toys 'R' Us where their floor was littered with shipping palettes of the systems. So I'd say that this whole lifestyle of camping for consumer electronics started back in November of 2005 with the launch of the XBox360.

The reason for the camping of the XBox360 had to do with the timing; Christmas shopping season was about to start, and with known shortages of the new system, people were desperate to obtain one. Nintendo and Sony's newest game systems wouldn't release for another year, which, Microsoft hoped could get them a head start on the marketplace. Any retailer will tell you that all game systems sell out at Christmastime. It doesn't matter how bad the system is, someone's grandmother will come in, see it on the store shelf and purchase it for her grandchildren, who will say thank you and smile, but look upon the system in the same way that one looks upon handmade clothes received for birthdays when they were 10.

I have always harbored suspicions that Microsoft engineered the shortages for the XBox360 as a form of free advertising, a form that we've seen repeated with Sony and Nintendo's latest offerings. In fact, as I write this, the Nintendo Wii is still largely unavailable and outsells Sony's PS3 on a scale of over 5 to 1 in America.

With Microsoft, they've long held a tradition of encouraging retailers to have midnight sales, and in fact, part of the origin of the midnight sales lies with Microsoft and an operating system known as MS-DOS 6.0. MS-DOS 6.0 was released in 1993. In those days operating systems were a fierce market, with products like OS/2 and DR-DOS competing to be the OS on your PC. CompUSA and other computer retailers were bound by an agreement not to sell the product until a specified date, which meant that legally they could start doing so at midnight of that day. Since this was a product that people needed on their computers (and because upgrading to a new OS was much easier than it is now) retailers figured out that if they could be the first one to sell the product, they could get a head start on their competition, which would be closed until morning. Retailers found this beneficial, and every operating system released by Microsoft since then has had a midnight release: Microsoft Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98, and Windows 95. Each of these midnight sales have each helped propel headlines in the local paper the next day such as "Microsoft sells 500 copies of Windows 95 at Fry's after midnight", which in addition to all the other advertising, promotes the availability of something in the pre-internet age, when people relied on word of mouth and telephone calls to figure out the availability of a product.

We have the internet now, and the world is incredibly and openly accessible; no longer do I need to drive to multiple stores throughout town to compare prices, I can now call someone using my cellphone who can look up the prices online. I can have reminders sent to my e-mail about the release dates of various products, and rather than anxiously waiting in line for a product, I can pre-order it, and have it sent to me on the day of release. That was where the world was headed; then somewhere along the line, some bozo somewhere in a suit decided that on-line retail's limitation was going to be brick and mortar's strength, and that was being able to get the product in the consumers' hands before delivery services could make their deliveries.

I've seen countless movies at midnight showings -- those are fun because the people in the crowd genuinely want to see the movie, and the crowd interaction is vastly different; it's like seeing a film with 800 fanatical fans. They cheer at the heroes, they boo and hiss at the villains, and before the show they draw their lightsabers and have duels before the show starts. Midnight retail experiences are something else all together; people are cordoned into lines with stanchions, much as you would see at the Happiest Place on Earth, but the environment there is anything but happy; people have been sitting out for hours, maybe even days in some cases, and they're cranky, eager to fork over their cash so that they can go home, list it on eBay and be done with it all. They're afraid of supply running out before the line gets to them, and everyone is on edge, wondering if that guy chatting with the people in front is a reporter or a cutter. Not everyone out there is a fan, but everyone else out there is competition. These midnight sales have grown more popular over recent years, and show no signs of stopping; as for myself, I'd rather get sleep and know that UPS will bring it over in the next day or two.

Having a line for a cellphone is unheard of and even lines for the newest iPod is unheard of. But the iPhone is the answer to attaining nothing short of technological rapture, the symbolic object of lust for nerds and geeks everywhere. For them, this is their pilgrimage, in patient waiting for Apple's answer to ubiquitous computing. The lines outside of stores are products of the hype machine, fears of shortages, and a bit of media sensationalism. It's not as if these iPhones are going to be some Apple iPhone Premiere Limited Edition, they're a revision 1 product, which will no doubt be followed by revision 1.5, and revision 2 and so on with more and better features.

iPhone: Now with more battery life

A recent story about the iPhone entitled "
The iPhone will fly and keep flying", and the news of the iPhone having even greater battery life than previously announced has sort of set this Monday morning off with quite a commotion.


The Apple iPhone is an interesting device to discuss, if only because Apple has (even before the release of the iPhone) changed the landscape of cellphones forever. Let's start off with the basics -- it's a $500 ($600 if you want the 8GB version) phone that does it all -- WiFi, camera, plays audio and video with a very nice display, and to top it off, has a slick touchscreen interface. It's the cellphone that all the other cellphone companies are saying that noone wants, and it's the phone that consumers seem to be going gaga for. Almost all experts and analysts are predicting a huge success for Apple, and I'm inclined to agree. Consider this -- at MacWorld SF 2007, where over 45,000 Mac fans saw the iPhone (and took pictures, video and pressed their noses up against the glass) while it rotated in the locked glass case, these past 6 months have only fed the desire, and statistically speaking, a quarter of people with cellphones have had their 2 year contracts expire during these past 6 months. Demand, despite it's $500 price tag will be huge. Consider this: If we take out the functionality that a new 4GB iPod nano offers, it makes the iPhone a $300 cellphone/digital camera/internet with a touchscreen.

Portability and price has always been a big deal in cellphones -- in general, the more portable the cellphone is, the more expensive it is, and the more features it packs to justify that price. Palm can get away with selling the Treo because it's a Palm Pilot organizer and a cellphone -- but it's a pretty bulky phone. Motorola's Razr on the other hand is much less functional than a Treo, but has that nice compact form factor that everyone likes. The iPhone is just as feature packed as the Treo (but the Treo lacks Wi-Fi) and costs more, but it's even slimmer.

What makes the iPhone different from all the rest is that it promises a more usable interface than their competitors. I own a Nokia -- it's the same cellphone I've used for 3 years. It has a little thumb joystick to navigate the menus. To get from the ready state to making a phone call, I need to thumb down twice (to get to the Contacts menu), tap the joystick button (to select the Contacts menu), tap the joystick button again(to select find from the Contacts Menu), and then thumb down to the person or hit the number key a number of times appropriate to that person's first letter of their name. Those steps seem particularly troublesome to me, and I've never really understood why Contacts rests so far in, while Messages is the topmost item. It's a phone, and the most frequent thing you're going to be doing is going to be doing is calling people. Apple understands this, but more than that, they understand that people are going to be using their phone for doing other things as well, and to make those things easy to do.

Last November, thousands of people camped out in front of toy stores and electronics stores to be the first to snag a $600 game system with the intention of flipping it on eBay for an instant profit. As we saw, the eBay market for PS3s died a spectacular death, netting most of these cold, rained and snowed upon November campers a profit margin hardly worth the trouble. Cellphones are much harder to flip on eBay, so I don't think we'll be seeing a lot of sales through eBay for iPhones. The same situation was with the Wii on eBay. Most purchasers of the Wii kept theirs, which resulted in a much smaller number of consoles on eBay.

We don't know how many iPhones will hit the street on June 29th -- with numbers as low as 40,000 and numbers as high as 3 million, it's anyone's guess. Although I lust after one as much as any technology geek does, portable electronics doesn't thrill me as much anymore. Even so, I predict that it will sell well, and it will sell out that weekend. There are factors to slow down the sales of iPhones -- with unknowns like the length of contract one must subscribe to, and the contract costs for data, I'm waiting for those announcements before I make a decision. The greatest promise that the iPhone holds, of course is that of having "Internet in the pocket", but with the cost of that unknown, it's tough to see that working out in a cost-beneficial fashion.

We will see headlines like "Man robbed/injured/shot/killed because of iPhone" because just as the iPod's white headphones were an indicator that someone was carrying an iPod, a person holding up what looks like an iPod their ear is a sure indicator that they're carrying an $500 iPhone. iPod-related crimes went down significantly after the introduction of the shuffle, since the white headphones no longer indicated a $250-350 product to snatch -- perhaps making the white headphones commonplace will also help iPhone customers in keeping their new toys from being stolen.

iPod + iPod photo = iPod w/ color screen

Apple finally got around to updating the base iPod with a color screen. The photo moniker has disappeared entirely, and the new iPod includes functionality for all those lovely iPod photo only devices. It appears the 20GB version has gotten a little thicker (but not heavier), and the price of the 60GB has dropped to $400, which is really strange pricing, as for $300 you can get a 20GB iPod w/color screen, for $30 more you can get the U2 version which comes with a color screen and is thinner than the 20GB version. With only $100 dollars separating 20GB from 60GB, is there much of a reason not to get the 60GB version now? (Part of me thinks the 60GB is so aggressively priced in order to clear out excess inventory of the 60GB iPod photos). Hidden in Apple's sale section is the 30GB iPod photo for $329. The 1GB shuffle is now priced at $129 as well.

iPod Color

With the iPod upgrade announcement done, next week's announcement is likely to be about the iTunes phone.

iPod Photo

I know that in the past, I've questioned the functionality of having an iPod photo, but I think I want an iPod photo now. During the roadtrip to Edmonton, I realized how useful having one would have been -- not because I want to retreat into my pod, but because it would have made passing around the digital photos so much easier. Of course, I'd also need the iPod photo Camera Connector and my camera's USB cable to make it all work, but it's still much better than passing around a small camera with a tiny LCD screen.

Apple Recycling iPods

Apple Announces iPod Recycling Program

Starting today, if you bring in your used iPod, iPod mini or iPod Photo into any Apple retail store to be recycled, you can receive 10 percent off any new iPod that day.

It's nice to see that Apple is being environmentally concious about their products, although I can't see this being an incredibly popular program, as I can think of several uses for a dead-battery iPod.

iPodding the Celica, Part III

I decided today where I wanted to place the iPod. After a long night of thinking about the alternatives, I decided on the glove compartment.

There's a couple of reasons for this:

  • Having it hooked up into the Pioneer iPod cable locks out the functionality for the Click Wheel controls.
  • You really don't want the iPod baking in the front seat when your car sits out in the parking lot.
  • Passing through a cable from the console to the glove compartment is easy. No messy holes, cutting or drilling.
  • If it's good enough for BMW, it's good enough for me.

The Pioneer CD-IB100 iPod Adapter is a nice component to add if you already have a Pioneer head unit. However, there are other more economical alternatives, which I've already listed in Part I.

Features I like about the CD-IB100:

  • It's small and compact, allowing you to install it anywhere.
  • Installation is fairly easy and straightforward.
  • Acts as an iPod charger.
  • Allows iPod to be controlled through the stereo.
  • Sound Quality is phenomenal.

Features that need improvement on the CD-IB100:

  • Headunit compatibility an issue. For most Pioneer Players, it will act as an external unit and only display 8 characters.
  • Documentation could be more in-depth.
  • Headunit controls need a lot of work to be as fast and intuitive as the Apple iPod controls.
  • Because Adapter acts like an external CD changer, one cannot browse the music list -- moving up or down songs will stop the playing of the music and go to the next track selected.
  • iPod Click Wheel controls should not be locked while plugged in.
  • Cost is an issue. At a retail price of $140, it really ought to do more.

If you can live with the problems of the Pioneer, and you already own a Pioneer headunit then it might be for you. If you can't, wait around for a better solution, because someone will design a better solution (if they haven't already).

How-To: iPodding the Celica, Part II

This section covers the bulk of the installation process for the Pioneer CD-IB100 iPod Adapter into a 2000-2005 Toyota Celica.

  • Things you will need
  • Removal of the Center Console
  • Connecting IP-Bus
  • Connecting Power
  • Connecting the CD-IB100
  • Testing the CD-IB100
  • Mounting the CD-IB100

Continue reading How-To: iPodding the Celica, Part II.

How-To: iPodding the Celica, Part I

My big project this weekend was installing the Pioneer CD-IB100 iPod Adapter [flickr photoset] into my 2001 Toyota Celica.

A much more detailed writeup of my notes and comparison of other iPod options is in the extended entry. Part II will be the step by step instructions of the install.

Continue reading How-To: iPodding the Celica, Part I.


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