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History of the iPod
January 7, 2007 11:46 AM   Subscribe

History of the iPod. A documentary from the Discovery Channel.
posted by londontube (159 comments total)

 
iPod blue
posted by caddis at 12:22 PM on January 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, such ancient devices and their long forgotten history ...
posted by homodigitalis at 12:23 PM on January 7, 2007


Jeez, it's an effing appliance! What's next? An A&E series on the waffle iron?
posted by twsf at 12:33 PM on January 7, 2007


*strokes his still working, first gen iPod*
posted by armoured-ant at 12:35 PM on January 7, 2007


The fact that a piece of hardware so young is still working astonishes you so much speaks volumes about the iPod's durability.
posted by tehloki at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


or apple's branding abilities, tehloki.
I can think of no other gadget that fails so many people, yet is recommended BY the people it failed on...
posted by Busithoth at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2007


so much speaks volumes about the iPod's durability

indeed it does, since as a rule portable devices carried around every day do in fact fall apart after 5 years of use.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:54 PM on January 7, 2007


I remember a short skit on Laugh-In:

Husband: Wow, there's a two hour movie on TV with no commercials!
Wife: What is it?
Husband: "The History of Coca-Cola"

Nature imitates art a few decades later.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2007


It's a very interesting documentary, actually, and I appreciate you posting it, londontube. It definitely speaks to the cult of personality that apple really is, and the micromanaging that seems to define Steve Jobs' work ethic. It must be a hell of a place to work.

The bitterness of the non-ipod people (presumably all 5 of you have now posted?) is merely an amusing aside.

I remember in about 2000 going back and forth from Toronto on a greyhound with my earphones plugged into my ibook so I could listen to my mp3s; the ipod was an awesome idea at just the right moment. I've definitely contibuted to the ipod economy, however; I'm on my second ipod now, and I bought my brother-in-law one for xmas (I got a shuffle for my sister, too).

Long live the ipod revolution!
posted by Hildegarde at 1:00 PM on January 7, 2007


Never seen Discovery Channel before but that wasn't a documentary, it was a blow job. Are all their programs like that?
posted by dobbs at 1:02 PM on January 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


or apple's branding abilities, tehloki.
I can think of no other gadget that fails so many people, yet is recommended BY the people it failed on...

Or perhaps people, y'know, like the product?
posted by cillit bang at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2007


A new-in-box 1st gen iPod sold on ebay recently for more than the original purchase price. And here I gave mine away years ago ... damn.
posted by bonaldi at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2007


I can think of no other gadget that fails so many people, yet is recommended BY the people it failed on...

How about cell phones? Everyone I know goes through one every 2 years before they fall apart or just stop working. My 3rd gen iPod lasted that long before the battery gave out, and that was after using it on roadtrips every couple of months on top of daily use.
posted by yeloson at 1:16 PM on January 7, 2007


Or perhaps people, y'know, like the product?

well, I've got one, and bought TWO for my girlfriend, as they evolved... and it works okay. I'm not patient enough to build playlists, unfortunately, so I suppose it could be argued I haven't realized its potential...

But I thought that iTunes has ceased support for all firewire connected iPods, so even those which still hold a charge and work cannot be updated any longer (unless you install Rockbox or something like it...)

every MP3 player out there has problems with it, and I'm willing to concede the iPod might have the fewest... I just can't help but think something better is surely out there. I just wish it'd be realized/advertised 1/100th as much.
posted by Busithoth at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2007


or apple's branding abilities, tehloki.
I can think of no other gadget that fails so many people, yet is recommended BY the people it failed on...


We are all such sheep. I can't believe I thought I loved my iPod, both the olders (which all work perfectly still) and my 5th gen, as well as those I've bought my equally-fooled family members over the years. Thank you, busithoth, for showing me how wrong I was.

I am shamed.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 1:19 PM on January 7, 2007


on preview, yeloson, I suppose cell phones contend...

lords know that the cell phone companies don't inspire affection, but there's always the network/device debate as to why your service sucks, and cell phones seem to get dropped more (anecdotal, but seems right to me-)
posted by Busithoth at 1:21 PM on January 7, 2007


I'm not patient enough to build playlists, unfortunately, so I suppose it could be argued I haven't realized its potential...

ZOMG NO PLAYLISTS? How do you LIVE?!
posted by Hildegarde at 1:21 PM on January 7, 2007


busithoth,

I <3 my archos, higher video quality than the video ipod, drag and drop file systems, and i can play nes, snes, and sega roms on it. Although I think you can do most of those things with the ipod. That said it's nice to not be a follower.

Can you imagine how much nerd hate would be directed at MS if the zune had come out first.

Love of apple is irrational in an internet where google lost respect for caving to the chinese gubernment, but no one cares that apple uses kiddie laborers to crank out the shiny.
posted by sourbrew at 1:22 PM on January 7, 2007


Is this the (bl)ending?
posted by Frank Grimes at 1:22 PM on January 7, 2007


Well, sure, the one time I'm pricky without hitting preview....

My firewire iPods still work 100% on my Intel Macbook with the newest iTunes, B. - And playlists are not exactly complex to set up. Especially with Smart Playlists. If you haven't used them, you should check them out
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2007


sourbrew: not a neutral source obviously, but worth reading.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 1:27 PM on January 7, 2007


People ARE sheep. There are dozens of mp3 players on the market that are just as good- and cheaper.

The iPod was just power-marketed (you pay extra for all of that advertising) to make people believe this mp3 player is somehow the only cool one to have.

Downloaded music sounds like crap, anyway.
posted by wfc123 at 1:37 PM on January 7, 2007


But I thought that iTunes has ceased support for all firewire connected iPods

Not true. My firewire baed iPod works just fine with iTunes 7 on my MacBook Pro. (I keep only audiobooks and long, spoken word podcasts on it... it lives at work but comes home on the weekends if it needs updating.)
posted by nathan_teske at 1:44 PM on January 7, 2007


Never seen Discovery Channel before but that wasn't a documentary, it was a blow job. Are all their programs like that?

Sadly yes. The Discovery channel used to have excellent documentaries and was great. Lately, though this passes as a part of its documentary catalog now. Don't get me started about how the Travel Channel switched from having shows about great exotic places around the world to wankfests about the latest casino to open in Las Vegas or some fucking rollercoaster.

The iPod is pretty fucking great, but really doesn't need a "documentary" about it.

And the iPod never was just an mp3 player. iPod has become jewelry that plays music and video. That is the point of the show. I worked for a company that was launching a new MP3 player dubbed internally as an ipod killer. It was going to have more storage, lower price, and longer battery life. But it sucked.

I've had one since the first gen and have updated every year since. It was very popular on the set while we were shooting a commercial for my ex-company's version.
posted by birdherder at 1:53 PM on January 7, 2007


It was very popular on the set while we were shooting a commercial for my ex-company's version.

I love that. Kind of like how everyone filming the Truth anti-smoking commercials are smoking (talent, crew) before and after takes...
posted by Busithoth at 2:01 PM on January 7, 2007


I am chuckling over the irony that someone who would buy an Apple product is "sheep." Buying Apple used to mean you were going against the flow for a superior product. Finally, Apple has the dominating market share in a product category, and automatically people are buying it to be followers. If it didn't appeal to consumers, no amount of slick marketing could save it.

I bought a 1st gen iPod, and everyone I knew thought I was nuts. Why would you want to carry around that much music? Even after I explained that it meant I no longer had to carry CDs on road trips, or leave copies of CDs at work and home, they would still shake their heads and walk away. Soon, people from all corners of the building I work in were cornering me for info on the iPod. The few that ended up buying something else always wished they had bought an iPod instead.
posted by The Deej at 2:05 PM on January 7, 2007


I remember in about 2000 going back and forth from Toronto on a greyhound with my earphones plugged into my ibook so I could listen to my mp3s; the ipod was an awesome idea at just the right moment.

Are you kidding? Portable Mp3 players existed before the year2000, including hard drive based devices. The myopia of the ipod fancore is as annoying as their incessant devotion to it.

The only thing original about the iPod was the depth of the marketing campaign.
posted by delmoi at 2:14 PM on January 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Follow the money - who owns Apple and Discovery - they are all mutally interested media entertainment companies with an elite group of names at the top who all know each other personally. It benefits them to mythologize (hagiography?) what amounts to nothing more than a branded distribution channel.
posted by stbalbach at 2:16 PM on January 7, 2007


but no one cares that apple uses kiddie laborers to crank out the shiny.

Excellent troll, bonus points for working in child labor.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:18 PM on January 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


The few that ended up buying something else always wished they had bought an iPod instead.

The sheep comments are indeed quite bizarre, given how little market share Apple has in the computing industry. Envy of a superior product is what the hate boils down to. If the competitors could make a superior product, then they'd actually compete in a free market, instead of having their apologist proxies whine endlessly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:22 PM on January 7, 2007


I am chuckling over the irony that someone who would buy an Apple product is "sheep." Buying Apple used to mean you were going against the flow for a superior product.

You mean superior sense of elitism.

My mp3 player is about the quarter the size of the Nano, barely larger then the replaceable AA battery that powers it. I can also drag files directly the device without the need to run it through some goofy DRM software, which means I can offload the songs on another computer whenever I want too, unlike the iPod.

There are lots of great alternatives to the ipod out there, cheaper, smaller, better screens, different features, transferability of music without DRM (I'm not talking about the god awful zune, of course).

People act like the iPod is the only thing in existence, which is fine, but be realistic.
posted by delmoi at 2:22 PM on January 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are you kidding? Portable Mp3 players existed before the year2000, including hard drive based devices.

Yes, and they were *all* shit. They had clunky retarded interfaces, and the computer side of things was even worse.

The only thing original about the iPod was the depth of the marketing campaign.

That cart followed the horse. It was only after the white headphones had become this weird fashion thing that the silhouette ads began. The other original thing about the iPod helped it much more -- it only worked on Mac, which meant only Mac people had them, and Mac people are cooler people. So nyeh.

The argument I love is this, though:
There are dozens of mp3 players on the market that are just as good- and cheaper.
Because it's the exact same one used to justify why Windows is successful and the Mac is a 3% niche. Except now it sounds like plaintive whining, instead of damning commercial sense.
posted by bonaldi at 2:23 PM on January 7, 2007


If the competitors could make a superior product, then they'd actually compete in a free market, instead of having their apologist proxies whine endlessly.

Which is why Windows is so popular right? and why so few people use Macs?

Fashion, which is what this is, is not rational.
posted by delmoi at 2:24 PM on January 7, 2007


I like the nano, nut I freakling hate itunes- it's like a little bit of mac on my pc. I just want to drag files onto the ipod and play them. So I put linux on it, and.... I after the initial novelty value, I realise I probably be better off dealing with itunes.
posted by mattoxic at 2:27 PM on January 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


wfc123 says: People ARE sheep. There are dozens of mp3 players on the market that are just as good- and cheaper.

The iPod was just power-marketed (you pay extra for all of that advertising) to make people believe this mp3 player is somehow the only cool one to have.

Downloaded music sounds like crap, anyway.


Such certainty.

I just bought my mother a Sandisk Sansa player, because it was recommended to me on a forum I read. I'm really not that impressed. The software is clunky and awkward on the PC. It's poorly laid out and ugly. The sound quality seems okay, although I haven't hooked up my Sennheisers to it yet... but you can often hear little pops as you fool with the volume or skip around in tracks.

Basically, what Apple offers may not, on paper, look as good, but generally is extremely polished. I'm not a big fan of iTunes 7, but 6 and earlier were very solid, and talked very nicely with my 2g iPod. (I'm not using it much these days, so I use the past tense.)

It's NOT just power marketed; the Sandisks are pretty highly rated, but I'd call the experience notably inferior. It doesn't even seem to support id3v2 tagging. Foobar's default tags were completely unrecognized, and I had to use its masstagging engine to add id3v1 before the Sansa would pick them up. That's shoddy. With any other player besides Foobar, that would probably have been fairly painful to try to recover from. I've never had that kind of problem with an iPod.

And downloaded music can sound extremely good, if the people encoding it did it with either a good mp3 encoder or, ideally, lossless compression. (See the 'classical music' post from yesterday... those files are all well-compressed, though some of them were done a long time ago, and aren't as good as more recent stuff would be.)

Your blanket pronouncements show a great deal of ignorance, IMO.

The iPod really is a pretty darn good product. It does everything it's supposed to do without any glaring failures or stupidities. The interface is good, the sound quality is very good (on my 2g, at least, I've heard that later iPods sound worse), and in general it does exactly what you'd expect.

I think the most telling thing is that the iPod is simply a thoroughly competent product, and just being competent gets it praised to the skies. It shows you how bad most consumer electronics stuff is.
posted by Malor at 2:29 PM on January 7, 2007


Fashion, which is what this is, is not rational.

This comment makes no sense. If it was about fashion or aesthetics, fickle people would have stopped buying iPods years ago. Repeat purchases and word-of-mouth recommendations are driven because it is a functional product, where the competitors have obviously failed so badly that few buy alternatives.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:29 PM on January 7, 2007


The Deej: I am chuckling over the irony that someone who would buy an Apple product is "sheep." Buying Apple used to mean you were going against the flow for a superior product.

Um.... right.

Mac user, here. Long time supporter of Apple products. Here to tell you that the whole Mac superiority thing is a myth.

Apple is not a software or hardware or music company. Apple is a brand company. A lifestyle company, if you will. Right now, they happen to have the best non-MS UI experience, and the fact that they make the OS that runs on their laptops give them the ability to make (arguably) the best consumer laptops. (Or "allowed", as I think that honor really belongs to the last PPC versions of the iBook and the 12 and 15 inch Pbooks. The current lineup is deeply problematic.)
posted by lodurr at 2:31 PM on January 7, 2007


Yes, and they were *all* shit. They had clunky retarded interfaces, and the computer side of things was even worse.

Sure, but the existed. I'm not saying the iPod wasn't better at the time, but that's no longer the case. But I was talking about what was original. I was replying to a person who was using a laptop to listen to music, rather then any of the available music players.

I personally used a PDA at the time, which worked fine. I didn't need to store a ton of music, since the only time I listen to music is A) in front of the computer or B) during workouts.

Again, I'm not saying the iPod wasn't a great step forward at the time. I'm just saying it wasn't original, and there were many ways to listen to mp3s portably. Most people didn't know about them, because those companies didn't have the marketing money that apple did.

That cart followed the horse. It was only after the white headphones had become this weird fashion thing that the silhouette ads began.

Marketing != television advertising. Most marketing is getting people to talk about your product, which apple did really well.

Frankly, I think the obsession and passionate defense of a corporate product is pretty lame, especially since it's 99% hype. Why not get passionate about something that actually matters.
posted by delmoi at 2:31 PM on January 7, 2007


Frankly, I think the obsession and passionate defense of a corporate product is pretty lame, especially since it's 99% hype. Why not get passionate about something that actually matters.

I agree. I fucking hate Apple at times, especially for the quality control on this shitty MacBook. I can't really switch computers, because there's nothing better out there that I wouldn't hate more, but the iPod is something pretty different.

iPods made music digital in a way that cameras have done for photography in the past few years, and both shifts completely changed the way I lived and worked. In cameras, however, there is plenty of competent competition. In MP3 players, there's still only one that really works (from my perspective as someone who'd rather the computer organised the music into folders than me slogging through it). That's why when someone asks for recommendations, or looks set to buy some Archos clunk-box, I steer them clear.

Hype? Sure. 99%? Not a chance. 60% maybe.
posted by bonaldi at 2:39 PM on January 7, 2007


Most people didn't know about them, because those companies didn't have the marketing money that apple did.

Wrong again. Apple did not heavily market the iPod until it took off in early 2003, almost two years after the initial release, when the iTunes+iPod combination was made available for Windows.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:39 PM on January 7, 2007


(wow, i heard about this ipod, but i never actually touched one...)
posted by growabrain at 2:39 PM on January 7, 2007


Wrong again. Apple did not heavily market the iPod until it took off in early 2003, almost two years after the initial release, when the iTunes+iPod combination was made available for Windows.

Really? How much money did apple spend on marketing iPod in 2002?
posted by delmoi at 2:44 PM on January 7, 2007


I don't like iTunes, so I got a creative zen vision m. I am very happy with it, especially the fm radio which is a dumb thing to get excited about. It is thicker than the ipod though, and the interface is maybe a little worse, I'm not sure whether it is just because I am less used to it though.

Also, is it just me or is WMP 11 really good all of the sudden?
It is probably just me.
posted by I Foody at 2:44 PM on January 7, 2007


Er, I mean how much money did apple spend on marketing the iPod in 2002, compared to how much money their competitors spent marketing their pre-ipod Mp3 players.

Also I remember seeing an early iPod commercial with Jeff Goldblum dancing around in his socks or some goofy thing long before the silhouette commercials.
posted by delmoi at 2:46 PM on January 7, 2007


I am very happy with it, especially the fm radio which is a dumb thing to get excited about.

My mp3 player has that as well, and it actully turned out to be really cool, because at my gym, they have TVs set up that you need to use an FM radio to hear, so I can switch between music and TV.
posted by delmoi at 2:47 PM on January 7, 2007


Frankly, I think the obsession and passionate defense of a corporate product is pretty lame, especially since it's 99% hype. Why not get passionate about something that actually matters.

Delmoi, I agree with you %100/. Everybody just wants to be trendy and hip. One of the major factors of its popularity was the color of the ear buds for Christs sake. All it is is something that says I'm popular. Thats why I avoid Ipods. They may be very nice, but it's more about the image then the product. I don't believe in modern image, I believe in other people. I believe in the common wealth rather then the closed circuit entertainment system. We are out there, but we are not getting tuned into the truth. We should value each other, not products. Remember the common wealth and save it.
posted by wheelieman at 2:48 PM on January 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


*strokes his still working, first gen iPod*

Mine still works too.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:49 PM on January 7, 2007


You mean superior sense of elitism.

No, I don't mean that. Although I will say that I did have somewhat a sense of elitism (if that's the right word) when I was the first of anyone I knew to have an MP3 player of any kind.

I don't go around preaching Apple to anyone. If they want my opinion I will tell them. I have Macs in my home and use Windows at work. The funny thing is, I have quite a few visitors who use my iMac or PowerBook to access their email or browse the web while visiting. After just showing them how to access the applications they need, I leave them alone. After using the Mac for a little while, many of them will just start spontaneously praising it, but they can't really put into words why they like it so much.

I think the iPod has the same appeal. People want to fondle them, and the usage is pretty intuitive for all the capabilities. I am not dumb enough to suggest that there are not other players, or even that there may be one at some point I would prefer to the iPod. But at this point, I have 3: my original full-sized one, which I pretty much keep at home (still haven't killed the battery after 4 years or so), a Mini I keep at work, unless I bring it home to swap playlists, and the new Shuffle which I use in the car, for exercising, walking, and everything else.

It's no longer really "elite" to own an iPod. But there is indeed something intangible or unexplainable in how they work and feel that makes them feel elite. It's not like buying a pair of jeans just for the label. People buy the Apple brand expecting quality. Most people that I know who have bought an iPod did so with no regard to the Apple brand. To them, iPod is the brand.

Plus, when Apple releases products that fall short of consumer expectations, regardless of the cool factor, those products fail. The Cube? The Mac Portable? In fact, it seems Apple fanboys are the most critical of Apple when they miss the mark.

In any event, there are tons of choices for MP3 players, and Apple is doing something right to have 70% of the market. We all gain if they just keep doing it, whether we buy an iPod or not. Rising tide... all ships... you know.
posted by The Deej at 2:50 PM on January 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


iPods as a "life changing" phenomenon (really?) are something I goggle at a bit. Then again, I rarely turn on the "radio" in my car or house, so I'm definitely not the target demographic.
posted by maxwelton at 2:50 PM on January 7, 2007


...without the need to run it through some goofy DRM software...transferability of music without DRM...

Not to nitpick, but, in the days of Zune, this is a pretty important point: non-DRM'd songs are not DRM'd when they're added to iTunes or placed on an iPod.

Additionally, it's pretty easy to transfer music, even that which has been DRM'd, from one computer to another. I've used PodWorks (for OS X) several times to copy music from my iPod to another one of my computers, and even Apple has intructions for how to move music from one machine to another using only iTunes and an iPod.
posted by esd at 2:53 PM on January 7, 2007


Anyway, I don't have a problem with people liking the iPod, it's just annoying when people act like it's the only thing in existence, or that if you don't have an iPod you don't have an mp3 player.
posted by delmoi at 2:55 PM on January 7, 2007


I've used my 1st gen iPod day-in, day-out since I bought it (day one).

Astonishment shouldn't come from the fact that it still works, but rather in how well it has aged (getting better through software/firmware updates) and that the core functions were done right from the start.
posted by mazola at 2:55 PM on January 7, 2007


Really? How much money did apple spend on marketing iPod in 2002?

Assuming 2001 as the baseline, and even assuming they spent their entire marketing budget on the iPod product line, they reduced their overall marketing budget by $20m by the end of 2002, which only grew roughly in $100m increments year-to-year over 2003 and 2004 (source).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:04 PM on January 7, 2007


the whole Mac superiority thing is a myth.

I used Windows for along time before I bought a Mac. I still use Windows MORE than I use my Mac. For me, Mac is superior. I didn't buy it for the branding. In fact, back when I bought my first Mac, advertising for the Mac was barely existent. I made my decision after using them both.

I don't have as many major complaints about Windows as I used to. It has gotten way better. But those who choose to use Mac, do so because they have decided it is superior. Same goes for anyone who chooses Windows or Linux or Commodore64. They have decided that for their uses, it is superior. Maybe they buy Windows because they know their best friend will help them use it, or they want a good game platform. Maybe someone buys a Mac because of how it looks. Those are both valid ways to determine superiority. But if Macs only looked good and worked like crap, they would be gone long ago.

In fact, although I do still recommend Mac to anyone who wants my opinion, I don't have as many anti-Windows comments as I did back in the 3.1 days. I don't see it as my job to convert anyone. I just know what works for me. I don't feel any sense of superiority over anyone else. But the iMac does look nice in my living room! :)
posted by The Deej at 3:07 PM on January 7, 2007


Everybody just wants to be trendy and hip

Trendy and hip would be buying an iPod at the end of 2001.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on January 7, 2007


Anyway, I don't have a problem with people liking the iPod, it's just annoying when people act like it's the only thing in existence, or that if you don't have an iPod you don't have an mp3 player.

Amen to that how ofter do I hear an (Australian) ABC radio announcer say "This program is now a podcast, and you can download it to your ipod". I suppose it is the mark of a successful product. Hoover/Kleenex etc
posted by mattoxic at 3:13 PM on January 7, 2007


If you buy into the Apple way, it sure does work out nicely. You store your contacts in Address Book, your photos in iPhoto, and your music in iTunes. Then they all end up on the iPod, synced every time you connect it, without doing anything special. Painless.

Compared to the issues I've had with other players and especially their crappy software, it's a revelation.
posted by smackfu at 3:17 PM on January 7, 2007


Trendy and hip would be buying an iPod at the end of 2001.

Whatever captain certainty.
posted by delmoi at 3:17 PM on January 7, 2007


Are you kidding? Portable Mp3 players existed before the year2000, including hard drive based devices. The myopia of the ipod fancore is as annoying as their incessant devotion to it.

Delmoi, dude, I was a phd dropout at the time and I didn't have any $$, so I listened to music on the bus through my ibook, which I had purchased prior to the dropping out when I was still relatively flush. There were no cheap mp3 players ar the time, and I doubt that any that did exist would have spoken to my old 7 gig OS 9 clamshell ibook. I'm just saying, when I saw my favourite computer company come out with something like the ipod that was like a kid sister for an ibook, I felt that they were on to something.

As soon as I had some $$, I replaced the ibook and bought an ipod at the same time. And I've rarely been without either of them since.

I am absolutely the target demographic.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:18 PM on January 7, 2007


Why not get passionate about something that actually matters

You go first delmoi, you go first.

What Apple has always revolutionized is it human/machine interface. Their stuff works, and it's easy to use for any moron like me. Their industrial designers are much better in general than most anyone else's.
posted by Eekacat at 3:19 PM on January 7, 2007


at my gym, they have TVs set up that you need to use an FM radio to hear, so I can switch between music and TV.

Funny story: a lady who works in my building asked me about my iPod for months. One of her main problems with it was the lack of an FM reciever, for the exact same purpose you describe. But she really wanted an iPod. She played around with mine enough to see how easy it was to navigate, so she was very torn. She didn't want to add a unit to the iPod for FM. I recommended she get the iPod, and just keep a cheap FM radio in her gym bag, but also helped her decide among MP3 players with FM. She ended up getting a Zen Micro. She struggled for a long time to master the touch pad thing on that and would complain that is wasn't near as easy to use as the iPod. I actually taught her how to use the pad with more accuracy by rolling her thumb instead of sliding it all the time. Well, it works for her. She does like it, but is disappointed after playing with the iPod.
posted by The Deej at 3:21 PM on January 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only thing original about the iPod was the depth of the marketing campaign.

Drivel. I had multiple mp3 players before buying my first iPod in late 2002. They were shite.

iRiver? The interface was severely retarded (and I don't use that word often)--seriously, I had the device for 9 months, used it daily, and still had to refer to the manual almost weekly to figure out basic functionality.

Archos? The thing was a brick and died not long after I got it. Getting music on it was a nightmare. It crashed/hung every single time I tried to put music on it.

I've had 6 iPods since my first and everyone but one has worked flawlessly (the 60 gig 5th gen was a tiny bit buggy, but was fixed with a software update). I've sold all my past iPods to friends and they all still work great, including my first, which just had its battery replaced for the first time.

The interface is dead simple. My mom can use it. (For perspective, my mother once called me in a panic to ask advice as "the police are on their way... the computer said I did something illegal"--she got a generic 'illegal exception' error from WIN95).

Are there people who buy iPods *just* because they think they'll look cool. Probably--same goes for just about everything.

But are there people who had tried multiple alternatives and chosen the iPod because it works best *for them*. Absolutely. I'm one of them. And your argument seems to be that there are *now* better players on the market than the iPod so anyone with a brain should switch because they're cheaper. Well, money isn't everything. I want my device to work, I want it to be intuitive to the way my brain works. 90% of the time that I'm listening to my iPod it's in my pocket. I can control it with one hand without seeing it--why should I throw away this convenience and familiarity to save $100?

Lastly, your DRM argument is utterly ridiculous. I have 300gb of music, all legally purchased, and NONE of it is DRM--not a single track. I've never bought an mp3 from Apple and have no desire or need to. Neither iTunes or the iPod force you to use DRM--for god's sake stop repeating this ridiculous and ignorant rumour.
posted by dobbs at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2007


Those of us old enough have the pleasure of remembering the joy that came with the first Sony Walkman. Shopping for groceries while listening to Talking Heads? It seemed magical when that became possible.
posted by davebush at 3:32 PM on January 7, 2007


I cannot work on a Mac. Something about the interface is totally foreign to me, and I always end up frustrated and angry when I attempt to use one.

But my nano and the shuffle I had previously are a delight. I had mp3 players before. The sound quality was poor, the interface was a nightmare, and transferring songs was horribly slow. The iPod just works, elegantly and without excess effort. iTunes has its quirks, but it is much better than the other programs I have tried.

I am hardly an Apple apologist, but I love my iPods.
posted by winna at 3:39 PM on January 7, 2007


iTunes still cant large mp3 collections in multiple folders.
You should be able to add a drive, and have it scan the entire thing without crashing.
posted by IronWolve at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2007


"Long live the ipod revolution!"
Yeah, DRM crippled music is about as revolutionary as Britteny Spears.
Fight the power, suckers.
posted by 2sheets at 3:55 PM on January 7, 2007


Uh...what does DRM have to do with ipods?

And it's Britney, geez. Don't you know you're underwear-free celebrities?
posted by Hildegarde at 3:57 PM on January 7, 2007


er...your. Hopefully you're not an underwear-free celebrity yourself, 2sheets. ;)
posted by Hildegarde at 3:58 PM on January 7, 2007


Whatever captain certainty.

If that's the best response you can come up with, that speaks volumes, no pun intended, about the irrational basis for your several complaints in this thread about iPod owners.

The iPod didn't succeed because of its marketing budget, it didn't succeed because of transient fashion trends, it has succeeded because it can organize and play music better than its competitors. People want something that works, and that's about it, really.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:00 PM on January 7, 2007


embarrassing.

"history of mp3 player" = documentary.
"history of ipod" = commerical.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:04 PM on January 7, 2007


and the ipod has absolutely succeeded because of marketing, and Apple's established brand.

I have a Creative mp3 player that's every bit as good as an ipod, and probably more reliable (but I cant prove that)

Most people are not even aware this brand exists. But oh well. Such is capitalism. It's really not shocking or a big deal to me that one company has excellent marketing while another doesn't.

But, factually speaking, there are plenty of mp3 players out there as good as or better than the ipod.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:08 PM on January 7, 2007


I made the switch, and so far I don't see anything that would convince me to switch back, how is that?
posted by furtive at 4:18 PM on January 7, 2007


If anyone wants to see my one man "History of MiniDisc" documentary, they only need show up at my house with a sixer of Famous Narragansett and a desire to watch a grown man cry "Why! Why did I fall for Sony's Lies again!!!?"

Matinee performances include a showing of "Why! Why did I fall for Sony's Lies again!!!?: Betamax Edition" for free. Look forward to our premier of "Why! Why did I fall for Sony's Lies again!!!?: Blu-ray Edition" coming in Winter of 2007!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:18 PM on January 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


As a l ong time mac user, SoundJam MP user and MP3 listener (going back to 1997) I think the ipod is great. I had a rio back in 1998, I had (still have) the Samsung Uproar MP3 phone all before the ipod came out. The problem with all of these devices was that there was no super storage one taht was marketed well. Sure, they may have existed, but I dont remember seeing them until the ipod came out with 4gb. Basically, I could go get a rio with 512mb space, my uproar with 64mb and upgradable to 128mb or an ipod with 4GB. Thats where the allure started.

Apple was always a quirky company with good products and good support. Thats why everyone who loves them does. They used to seem to take care of their customers. Now, not so much, but to say that this brand loyalty is unfounded and purely sheepish is false. Anyone who went through hours of tech support with Apple to get thier system 7.5 up to OS8, saw their applevision monitor blow up and have theiri newton freeze, knows that when you buy apple, you buy fun tools, a brotherhood of other creative types and GREAT customer service. Call Gateway in the mid 90s and you will see why the apple fan base was and still is so loyal.
posted by subaruwrx at 4:25 PM on January 7, 2007


robocop, minidisc totally sounds better to my ears than MP3 encoding, and I cannot fathom why. even 196kb rate encoding seems to lose something. unless you make the minidisc from an MP3 (a feature my players never had).
posted by Busithoth at 5:01 PM on January 7, 2007


75 comments and no one mentions there's a MacWorld keynote in two days? Steve, I want my iPhoneTabletTVFlyingCar!
posted by gwint at 5:09 PM on January 7, 2007


That said it's nice to not be a follower.

But it's nice to be a follower when that which is followed is sufficiently nice as to be widely-followed.
posted by BaxterG4 at 5:15 PM on January 7, 2007


Well, since I had an iPod before anyone I know, then I am not a follower, I am a leader! Back off all you followers!!!! BACK... THE HELL... OFF!
posted by The Deej at 5:18 PM on January 7, 2007


blazecock: [the ipod] has succeeded because it can organize and play music better than its competitors.

Um.... that's a really, really strange thing to say, considering what a profound piece of CRAP iTunes is.

iPod sound quality was poor for several generations and is sometimes still poor on new models. This is a software problem, or so I'm told, but it's nevertheless an iPod problem. And I gather it took Apple a long time to make the space between songs user-settable, which was commonly configurable on other mp3 players of the same time period. And the UI was regarded by a lot of people as not very friendly. And you had to interface with the iPod via iTunes, even well into the age of UMS (unless you wanted to go and get a third-party extension, of course).

But yea, of course, it was better at playing and organizing music than any device could be that used, say, MusicMatch, or Real Jukebox. Because of course, the UI on those things SUCKED.

Except... that it kind of didn't. Apple bucked the trend, after all, in eschewing a hierarchical tree or a collapsable list as the main UI metaphor, even though their own file system worked that way and it was the clear choice for UI consistency. Instead, they used some flakey three-paned filter that you have to have explained to you, and that doesn't correspond to anything you've seen before.

Then with each generation they took care to ensure that you couldn't actually do anything really useful with the gee-whiz features. Want to listen to songs on someone else's computer? Great, we got it covered for ya! But hey, no, we can't let you actually add their songs to your playlist. That would be bad. That would mean that you might play the songs on the server in the basement instead of getting an extra copy from the iTunes store...

iTunes sucks. I have no idea whether the store sucks -- people I trust tell me it does, other people tell me (note omission) that it's great. I do know that iTunes sucks. It's awful. I've used a bunch of music player software, and dear lord, the only thing that sucked worse than iTunes was Data Becker's crappy piece of crap, which , oddly enough, looks an awful lot like iTunes. I wonder about that, sometimes, but I haven't yet found any evidence that's where Apple bought it from.

And the iPod? It's more expensive, and it's sleek. It looks like a toilet tank, so it must be cool. But is it any better? And in what ways? All I ever hear is "it organizes music better" or "it's more convenient", but I've yet to have anyone give me specifics that couldn't be countered.

Face it: iPods are about status. That's pretty much it. That's all they offer that other players don't offer. Most others kill them on features, and a lot of others kill them on user experience.

Apple are not nice nice folks. Jobs in particular is a nasty piece of work. They are in it to make a buck. Preferably lots of bucks. Their market-farming strategy is a bit different (or has been traditionally) from MS's, in that it's much more focused on style and on irrational factors. MS tortures logic; Apple tortures emotional connections. MS selection is about feeling strong or intelligent; Apple selection is about feeling clever or creative. This is, after all, a company where a concept like "Emotional Design" elicits unqualified positive responses, instead fo the deeply ambivalent responses that the concept deserves.
posted by lodurr at 5:24 PM on January 7, 2007


delmoi writes 'There are lots of great alternatives to the ipod out there, cheaper, smaller, better screens, different features, transferability of music without DRM (I'm not talking about the god awful zune, of course).'

But what do they look like? Bloody hideous in my experience. No doubt I'll be branded a ponce for this, but I put form up there with function when it comes to a device I'm going to be using day in day out, and I'll happily do without ogg vorbis support or an FM tuner in return for using a beautiful object, which the 1st gen iPodf was, and the new Shuffle is to my eyes. (And to nitpick, 'transferability of music without DRM' is a feature of the iPod.)

armoured-ant writes '*strokes his still working, first gen iPod*'

I'd stroke my still-working first gen iPod too if some gobshite hadn't stolen it from my house at a party last year.
posted by jack_mo at 5:31 PM on January 7, 2007


And you had to interface with the iPod via iTunes, even well into the age of UMS

Well you're missing the primary advantage of the iPod if you think UMS is a viable way to transfer data. The absolute key thing the iPod does is duplicate iTunes exactly. Not necessarily in terms of user interface, but in terms of data.

With a UMS device you have no idea if the device's firmware is going to interpret ID3 tags the same way your desktop software did. The iPod never ever has this problem. The same thing with playlists - when you create a playlist in iTunes you can be damn sure it'll end up exactly the same on your iPod, and it'll make sure the relevant MP3s are copied. Ditto smart playlists, play counts, album artwork and all the rest of it.

I don't currently own an iPod, but I constantly run into the above problems with the MP3 player I do use. Yes, most of the time it works, but knowing that with an iPod it would work 100% of the time with zero fuss (at least until the hard disk inevitably dies) makes going back awfully tempting.
posted by cillit bang at 5:42 PM on January 7, 2007


You people

are having a heated argument

about a brand of portable music player.


I just thought I'd point that out.
posted by Jimbob at 5:49 PM on January 7, 2007


They are in it to make a buck.

"Ohhhhhh!!!! It's a profit deal!!!!!!"
-Navin Johnson
posted by The Deej at 5:51 PM on January 7, 2007


You people

are having a heated argument

about a brand of portable music player.


I just thought I'd point that out.
posted by Jimbob


And now... SO ARE YOU!!!! BWAH HA HAAA!!!

Actually no. I don't think most people here are heated. I'm not anyway. Interesting discussion. Even though everyone who doesn't agree with me sucks twin donkies. But hey, nothing personal.
posted by The Deej at 5:54 PM on January 7, 2007


Face it: iPods are about status.

Nope, it just works, and works well enough that I'm not looking around for something else. I suspect most of the millions of people who have bought one feel the same.

Look, if you're using another MP3, I DON'T CARE. If you're also using an iPod, I DON'T CARE. I dig my pod it plays lots of my music when I want to and it's easy as hell to operate and iTunes helps keep my music and various files organized. That's it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:54 PM on January 7, 2007


iPods are interesting little bits of technology, yet why a front page post to a tv show about one is beyond me. You have got two big negatives, tv and product promotion, all in one post. meh. (I love my iPod though, and I am not even one who ever really liked walkmen, discmen and other assorted noisemakers in one's ears.)
posted by caddis at 5:55 PM on January 7, 2007


Back to the main point: Does the iPod deserve a documentary? Well, apparently Discovery thought so. (Not that that's saying anything, really.)

DVD players were said to have the fastest growing sales of any electronic device. The rapid growth was phenomenal. That is worthy of a documentary I think.

But why the iPod, and not just "MP3 players?" I think it's because nothing captured the public's imagination, and became a cultural icon among MP3 players, quite like the iPod. From what I have seen among people I know, there is a perception that there is the iPod, and then everything else. Plus, a recognizable product name = more viewers. Imagine if they had a special about "The Creative Zen Micro." Next! Everyone, techie or no, has heard of the iPod, and knows what it does.
posted by The Deej at 6:02 PM on January 7, 2007


Oh, and as far as the status thing: I rent a small apartment, and drive a 15 year old car. Either I don't care about status, or the iPod is my only source of it. :)
posted by The Deej at 6:03 PM on January 7, 2007


As much as I like my > half the accessories are stupid times two.
posted by furtive at 6:04 PM on January 7, 2007


It's because Steve Jobs is the Madonna of the electronics industry.
posted by caddis at 6:54 PM on January 7, 2007


People ARE sheep. There are dozens of mp3 players on the market that are just as good- and cheaper.

Serious question: what other large-capacity (60 - 80 GB) player will play books from audible.com and keep my place in them?

If someone pointed me to a better one than my iPod, I'd switch -- especially if it had a modifiable OS.
posted by grumblebee at 7:44 PM on January 7, 2007


Is this something I would need to own a television to understand?

*Disclaimer: AUTHOR, by which term is meant the sole writer of this comment, "Kwine," owns and occasionally enjoys TELEVISION, by which term is meant both the physical antenna/CRT device/s and any visual/audio content received through those device/s, including content from DISCOVERY CHANNEL. AUTHOR does not in any way intend to disparage TELEVISION, which blanket lack of intention includes TELEVISION providers, viewers, vendors, and enthusiasts, and most especially DISCOVERY CHANNEL. AUTHOR is in no way affiliated with the DISCOVERY CHANNEL or APPLE COMPUTER. This comment was supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. All rights reserved. This comment may not be rebroadcast without the express written consent of Major League Baseball.*
posted by Kwine at 7:46 PM on January 7, 2007


Face it: iPods are about status. That's pretty much it. That's all they offer that other players don't offer. Most others kill them on features, and a lot of others kill them on user experience.

If that was really true, the iPod market would not have the numbers it does. Something earns "status" because few own it, which is clearly not the case with the iPod.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:55 PM on January 7, 2007


People ARE sheep. There are dozens of mp3 players on the market that are just as good- and cheaper.

Why does everyone say this? I just priced out MP3 players, intending to not buy an iPod. But I bought an iPod, because it was actually the cheapest player I could find with a good warrenty and good reviews at the size I wanted. They have been as cheap or cheaper than other major companies for a long while now.

It's like the iBook - people don't realise they are cheaper than most other well-made laptops.
posted by jb at 8:24 PM on January 7, 2007


Something earns "status" because few own it,

Sometimes, maybe, but marketing has a ton to do with it too. Ask practically anybody* what the highest status wristwatch brand is and you'll hear "Rolex." This in spite of the fact that Rolex manufactures and sells close to a million pieces a year - an order of magnitude or two more than other highly-respected, similarly-priced and arguably higher-quality brands.

Rolex gets people to associate the name with "status" by heavy, heavy marketing efforts. And it's worked out really well for them.

*Save watch geeks like yours truly.
posted by Opposite George at 8:35 PM on January 7, 2007


It's like the iBook - people don't realise they are cheaper than most other well-made laptops.

Not if you want an adequate amount of ram. Of course you can do the thing where if someone points to a notebook with the same or better specs for much less you can claim it is less well made apropos of nothing. Now I am not saying that the iBook is overpriced, but you are paying more to get access to the mac os and software suite.

On the other hand the iMac 24" is about as cheap as a pc and 24" monitor and has a more elegant form factor. This won't last forever but right now it is a very good deal if you aren't too interested in upgrading/future proofing. The iPod is not that different pricewise from other hardisk based MP3 players. The nano is a bit more than other flash based mp3 players, but it is smaller.
posted by I Foody at 8:45 PM on January 7, 2007


When the iPod first came out, it was the only Firewire device available and one of the things that attracted me to it, as such, was the ability to boot a machine from it. I'm sure there's other HD-based FW MP3 players that'll do this now (well, actually, I'm not sure sure) but I've been very happy to have had a drive with a version of OS 10 & DiskWarrior on it, wherever I go. I started with a used 5 gig, sold it to a friend who still has it, moved on to a 20, & now a 30 gig 4th gen. I won't be getting a 5th gen. until the 4th gens are no longer available, since they dropped the Firewire in favor of USB 2. That is, unless there's an OS update that allows me to boot all my Macs from USB, but I'm not holding my breath.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:49 PM on January 7, 2007


I love my Rio Carbon. It's small, good-looking, comfortable and easy to use. Has no DRM. Can be used with or without Rio's custom software. Has a physical jog wheel which can be operated even with winter gloves on, and I prefer it over the iPod's touch wheel thing. The only thing I don't love, in fact, is the 5GB of storage space -- that's getting to be too small.

I'm contemplating an iPod as an upgrade because (A) the refurbished ones from the Apple store are actually the cheapest per gigabyte, and (B) the market domination means accessories and hacks are everywhere you look.

OTOH, I laugh heartily in the face of the Shuffle -- more expensive, not as small, and not as full-featured as a hundred other flash-based players.
posted by Foosnark at 9:11 PM on January 7, 2007


I've also priced out laptops twice in as many years, and the iBook is CHEAP. Certainly, there are some tanks that are cheaper, but for anything under 6lb in weight, the iBook is about $500-$1000 cheaper than most everything else. In fact, they are the only manufacturer who charges less for a small machine - something absolutely essential in my line of work. (I have to carry my computer around at all times, and work in places with very little space). Adequate ram? It has plenty. Most people aren't gamers (certainly not on a Mac) or manipulating visual/video/audio - and who buys a laptop for performance? I was just hoping to upgrade to 256MB at the time. Now I'm excited to have 512.

IBooks are not cheaper than everything. In 2004, I bought a 12" PC for about $250 less than my friend paid for her iBook, I thought I had a great deal, though I had to go for a refurbished computer from a low-brand company. All of the other 12" PCs were almost twice as much as an iBook. Except that I had to buy another PC less than 2 years later because the hardware had literally fallen apart. (The monitor was falling off, and the power port started smoking; the plastic of the case was so brittle that the lock hole had broken within the first month.) Her iBook is still working just fine.

When I went to price out laptops for the second time, I realised that I simply could not afford a small laptop unless I got a Mac. Actually, the only thing that kept me from getting one was the operating system; my work relies on Windows only software. The computer I bought (this time from a well known manufacturer, with a strong warranty) cost the same as an iBook, and weighs 150% more. My back feels that weight - I can't carry half so many books as I used to with my light computer.

So I have to say, as a non-Mac user, as someone who has never liked the MacOS or using Macs, the minute I can get the software I need on a Mac (though preferrably running Windows or Linux), I am switching. Not because they are cute (though they do rock the design side of electronics), but because they are damn solid, cheap and know that there is an entire market of people for whom bigger is not always better.

-------------------

The shuffle is annoying. I've had an iPod mini (excellent product - great battery life, solid, took several hard knocks and kept going), and we've recently bought a full-size iPod (again, because it was the cheapest player with a decent warrenty and good reviews). But the shuffle is unusable for anything other than listening to a couple of songs of songs; podcasts were almost impossible (I couldn't get it to scan through).

Actually, I was very sorry to see the mini discontinued - I supose the nano is getting to be a good replacement now, but when it first came out, the nano had less space and a much worse battery. The mini was just really solid - I knocked it so hard on a stone floor that it dented the corners, and it's still going.

I do wish that Apple would continue to offer a non-video iPod, perhaps with a smaller screen and better battery life. I guess we should have bought when the fourth generation was out, but now they actually cost more (at least in Britain) than the new ones from Apple.
posted by jb at 9:23 PM on January 7, 2007


DRM an the iPod. To suggest it has no DRM is silly, although yes you can use it without DRM.

To my knowledge, you need to use iTunes to transfer to the music to an iPod and you need to use iTunes to transfer it off. With most mp3 players, you don't need to use any software beyond your OS's file manager.
posted by delmoi at 10:18 PM on January 7, 2007


But what do they [ipod competiors] look like? Bloody hideous in my experience.

Bleh, I think the ipods are a little getting a little old, don't you? It's just so bland. Now the samsung k3, on the other hand. And remember it has an OLED screen, which will look better then the iPods LCDs (untill they add oled to the ipods, I guess)
posted by delmoi at 10:24 PM on January 7, 2007


the ipod is forcing the music industry to change...the paid download market is small... and artists get at most 5cents per song sold
posted by sexpose at 12:02 AM on January 8, 2007


With most mp3 players, you don't need to use any software beyond your OS's file manager.

You do know this isn't an advantage, right? It's like boasting your database software lets you read its files on disk and do your searching by hand.
posted by bonaldi at 12:47 AM on January 8, 2007


My iRiver looks hideous, but all I have to do to impress iPod users is let them listen to the audio quality, including FM radio, record audio and and then plug it into a computer for drag-and-drop goodness. At least that's all it took for me to "switch" from my iPod, anyway.
posted by Poagao at 1:19 AM on January 8, 2007


and you can run an iPod through the washing machine when it gets dirty too ...
posted by dickdotcom at 3:41 AM on January 8, 2007


unfortunately, iRiver (originally our first choice when looking for an MP3 player, but more expensive) no longer has the drag and drop updating, but must be updated through Windows only update software. Whereas Amarok can update iPods from a Linux machine, including taking music off. It doesn't know how to handle podcasts, but hopefully the next update will fix that.
posted by jb at 4:01 AM on January 8, 2007


The iPod is intuitive and nice to use. Looks pretty and sounds good too. Unfortunately I can't use it as a hard drive as well as an mp3 player simultaneously. And for this reason alone, I will never, ever buy one.

My Creative Muvo works as a USB key that plays music. It works on every PC I've ever stuck it in (without having to install additional software) and uses a single AAA battery for power.

Maybe I'm just a fashion-victim geek, but I still believe that how a device functions is more important than what it looks like.

Having said all of that, I can see why people like iTunes+iPod, it streamlines the whole process and makes the basic functions of the music player easy to use for the average end user. But in doing that there are sacrifices made in a few areas that I'm not willing to compromise in.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:16 AM on January 8, 2007


I JUST got what caddis was talking about in the first comment of the thread. Christ am I dense.

That said, I wonder if the folks down at discovery are enjoying their free iPods... and buckets of cash.
posted by tehloki at 4:48 AM on January 8, 2007


Unfortunately I can't use it as a hard drive as well as an mp3 player simultaneously. And for this reason alone, I will never, ever buy one.

Not true. I have 4600 mp3's, an operating system, disk utilities, and encrypted file with all my software serial #'s and passwords, and whatever miscellaneous files I need to shuffle (<--double entendre, I suppose) back & forth to work. It's very handy both as a music player & super-capacious flash drive. I always have it with me wherever I go, and it also contains my entire contact list, calendar & an alarm clock.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:51 AM on January 8, 2007


To suggest it has no DRM is silly, although yes you can use it without DRM.

You can use an iPod without putting any DRMed material on it whatsoever, so, yes, the iPod does not have DRM (unless you buy DRMed material and install it on the iPod, which you are not obliged to do over the life of the product).

To my knowledge, you need to use iTunes to transfer to the music to an iPod and you need to use iTunes to transfer it off

Yet more uninformed guesswork.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:58 AM on January 8, 2007


bonaldi: You do know this isn't an advantage, right?

Well, I, for one, do not know it's not an advantage to use the file system.

Look, Apple made iTunes's navigation different for the sake of being different. It was a field day for bad information designers. It's crap. It's hard to use, hard to explain to people.

But let's ignore that. What precisely is the "advantage" of requiring that a user deploy proprietary software to upload tracks to your player? Put another way: What's the advantage of actively preventing them from accessing the device through the filesystem?

Let's hear it. I'm all ears.
posted by lodurr at 5:01 AM on January 8, 2007


blazecock: Yet more uninformed guesswork.

blazecock, you're technically correct: If you want to be a geek about it, and do the extra work, you can trick an iPod into letting you access it through the filesystem; and yes, there are non-filesystem interfaces to other music playing systems.

That doesn't change the fact that Apple intended it to not be accessed that way.
posted by lodurr at 5:05 AM on January 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


delmoi writes 'Bleh, I think the ipods are a little getting a little old, don't you? It's just so bland.'

Yeah, I don't find most of the newer models all that thrilling, and still think the 1st gen is the best-looking (and so satisfyingly weighty). The exception being the new Shuffle, which is a truly lovely thing. That Samsung isn't half bad, though.
posted by jack_mo at 5:06 AM on January 8, 2007


Devils Rancher, I was under the impression that you can't listen to any music that you are also able to copy off the ipod? Is yours off the shelf or have you modified it?
posted by slimepuppy at 5:19 AM on January 8, 2007


That doesn't change the fact that Apple intended it to not be accessed that way.

If Apple really wanted to, they could lock down the iPod with encryption so that the aforementioned solutions would never work. Fact remains that they don't. They're not going out of their way to forcibly lock down the iPod. They're not suing the people who write Linux for the iPod.

The fact is, if I really want to be a geek about it, that being a geek also means I might want to manage my music through the filesystem, but it means I have to be geeky enough to know how to organize the music in such a way that it can be presented through the music player, so that I can organize by playlists, artists, or titles.

The reality is that most people don't want to geek it up, they just want a simple solution to listen to their music. That's it. It's not rocket science.

The real reason Apple doesn't make it easy to use alternatives is not because of DRM — which didn't show up until the music store came around in the third revision of the product — it is because Apple does not make products that force end users to have to learn to become geeks.

If you want to be a geek and control everything down to the last degree, an iPod is not for you, and Apple is not designing the product with you in mind. Get over it.

If you don't want to be a geek and simply want to listen to your music, then you'll probably evaluate the choices, talk to your friends, and make your own choice, which will probably put you in the same boat as the 70% market share. It might not, which is why there is the 30% that doesn't use an iPod.

Seriously, listening to some of you come up with excuse after excuse to hate on people who use iPods is really tiresome. This isn't high school and you don't earn points hating on something just because a lot of people happen to use it. Can't you just enjoy your own music the way you want?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:27 AM on January 8, 2007


iFoody: Of course you can do the thing where if someone points to a notebook with the same or better specs for much less you can claim it is less well made apropos of nothing.

Apropos of something, then: It's been a few years since I was aware of the quality control execution on any PC laptop make (they used about 100 Toshibas at a place I used to work, with excellent QC), but Mac support folks will tell you, if they're not feeling threatened, that Apple's manufacturing quality control these days is spotty at best. The MacBooks have all kinds of fit and finish problems. Some of this is arguably beyond Apple's easy control, since the bad units mostly seem to originate in China. One service guy I know speculated that the shift to magnetic latches was one way of dealing with fit and finish problems -- he based that on the fact that the most obvious fit and finish errors he'd seen were in how tightly the MacBook Pro would close, and conjecturing that mechanical latches would fail from the repeated strain.

We have three MacBook Pros in our office. Two of the users report that they frequently get out to a client site and discover that the thing has popped open in their bag and been running (and running hot!) for some unknown period of time. Viz also the numerous reports of manufacturing defects in the MacBooks.

It's not limited to the MacBooks. Later iBooks and PowerBooks were problematic, too. My 12" is pretty good, but there was an '04 vintage 17" PowerBook here that was a mess, and the TiBooks were notorious for their manufacturing defects.

It's also not as though this were a new problem. I supported a lot of Macs in the mid-90s, and we saw all kinds of manufacturing defects, not to mention some unwise sourcing. (We bought 30 Macs outfitted with the aptly-named Quantum Fireball drive; 15% of drives failed in the first month.)

Quality control in manufacturing is a big problem, but it gets bigger if you want to use obsessive over-design as a way of creating the impression of higher quality, because that kind of obsessive over-design is hard to pull off at low manufacturing costs and high run rates while keeping quality high as well. It seems to me that Apple has a basic problem understanding what constitutes sound industrial design. They get so side-tracked on their "emotional design" goals that they forget to consider whether the unit cost will be low or the machine will be easy to repair.

I'm thinking in particular of the way that PowerBooks are put together. I don't really know iBooks -- never owned one, never looked inside one of the current models. But I have put a new hard drive into my 12" PowerBook. I had to remove 36 very small screws of 8 different lengths with two different driver types (phillips and allen) (apparently some 12" PowerBooks also use Torx screws, though mine did not). It was like assembling a puzzle: Some small parts had to be plugged in through holes in fascias, meaning they had to be unplugged and set aside before you could get to the screws you needed to take out. Once you get most of the screws out, you have to then take two or three putty knives and work your way around the case to release the 360 degree spring-steel friction-fit clips, taking care as you do not to crack the fragile little plastic trim piece that wraps around the body of the laptop. (Apple does dearly love those 360 degree disassembly deterrants: The Mini's is made of plastic and is easily damaged, making it clear that you've potentially voided your warranty.)

I think back to the ThinkPads my friend used to work on in the late 90s: Two or three screws, a clip or two, and he had the old hard drive out and a new one installed. Five minutes if he were taking his time. That's good industrial design -- of course, it's bad "emotional design", because it doesn't leave the owner thinking he's got some kind of freaking Porsche.

Mind you, if manufactured properly, the PowerBook is, if not a tank, at least a light truck. But it's certainly no more durable than a ThinkPad or a VAIO. And with that kind of fine tolerances in design, proper assembly becomes all that much more important -- in no small part because errors in assembly are difficult and time-consuming to fix.
posted by lodurr at 5:32 AM on January 8, 2007


blazecock: If you want to be a geek and control everything down to the last degree, an iPod is not for you....

Hmm.... then why do they make it necessary to be a geek to use the think effectively?
posted by lodurr at 5:33 AM on January 8, 2007


Devils Rancher, I was under the impression that you can't listen to any music that you are also able to copy off the ipod? Is yours off the shelf or have you modified it?

Apple does a relatively good job of obscuring the whereabouts of songs copied onto the iPod through iTunes, however, Podworks does an equally good job of circumventing that obscurity. There are several programs that do this, though I'm not aware of any for Windows. I would imagine they're out there, I just don't know of any, since I don't keep up with the Windows world.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:41 AM on January 8, 2007


blazecock: Seriously, listening to some of you come up with excuse after excuse to hate on people who use iPods is really tiresome. This isn't high school and you don't earn points hating on something just because a lot of people happen to use it. Can't you just enjoy your own music the way you want?

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't give a shit if a lot of people use it. Really. Honest.

I do give a shit that it's a product of average utility and quality that's been elevated to exalted status through a triumph des marketings. That bothers me at an aesthetic level, very much. It's a veritable case study for the mediocritization of design, through the triumph des Emotional Design.

I bought a Mac because it was the easiest way to get away from Microsoft. (Linux just isn't practical for laptops -- not the way I want to use them.) And that's still true. But being a better option than Microsoft is not the same as being good. There are many things that suck about Apple. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that just about all our current options suck, to varying degrees. I will be very disappointed if the ubiquitous devices of tomorrow take their interface cues from Apple, and subordinate irrational, "emotional design" to design based on rational discovery processes and actual usability research (as opposed to the Fittishistic voodoo usability that Apple seems to love so much).
posted by lodurr at 5:44 AM on January 8, 2007


What's the advantage of actively preventing them from accessing the device through the filesystem?

What's the advantage of requiring people have decent browsers to access websites like google maps? Why shouldn't they work with Lynx or Netscape 2? Because by controlling certain elements, you can vastly improve the experience.

In the iPod's case, not allowing any old shit to be smooshed into the device means you can:
  1. control what goes on it, so that songs it can't decode don't get copied,
  2. use markedly more metadata than the filesystem will keep track of, including playcount and skipped count, and
  3. you can use the computing power of the host to generate a database so that the iPod has to do very little work to quickly sort up to 60gb of files. Imagine the battery life and the speed if it had to read the ID tags on each file, then sort them and display a list instead of reading one pre-prepared file.
posted by bonaldi at 6:02 AM on January 8, 2007


Er. This: ...and subordinate irrational, "emotional design" to design based on rational discovery processes and actual usability research (as opposed to the Fittishistic voodoo usability that Apple seems to love so much)...

should be this: ...and irrational, "emotional design" subordinates design based on rational discovery processes and actual usability research (as opposed to the Fittishistic voodoo usability that Apple seems to love so much)...
posted by lodurr at 6:05 AM on January 8, 2007


Bonaldi: All of your points would be good, except that all the UMS-accessible devices I've ever seen have ways of dealing with them.
  1. Most UMS-accessible devices simply don't let you see tracks they can't play. Some newer ones, like the Sandisk players, will scan files as they are copied to the device, and won't actually let you copy anything it can't play. (That only works on Windows, though, I think.)
  2. Most UMS-accessible devices don't need to record the metadata in the filesystem -- they record it in a database. The only difference in your scenario is that you're positing the database as being 'created by' the host -- I doubt that's actually true of an iPod, since that would mean that the iPod itself doesn't augment that metadata.
  3. And again, all the UMS-accessible devices that I've seen don't access ID3 tags on the fly to make listings. They scan for changes at startup, and only read the changed files. That's because they maintain a database (just like an iPod does) of what's on them.
So, what else have you got?

Keep in mind that I'm not suggesting, and never have, that you only access the device via the filesystem, so we can kill that straw man before it ever gets set up. I'm suggesting that it's wrong and not advantageous in any meaningful way to block UMS access.
posted by lodurr at 6:12 AM on January 8, 2007


Most UMS-accessible devices simply don't let you see tracks they can't play.
Hey, that's great interface design. Let songs I can't play take up space I can't otherwise use for playable songs, and hide them from the interface.

(That only works on Windows, though, I think.)
Hi there Apple please to make device that only works properly on Windows, thanks.

I doubt that's actually true of an iPod, since that would mean that the iPod itself doesn't augment that metadata.
It is true of an iPod. The only augmentation done on iPod is keeping track of play/skip counts and ratings. Which is easy to do separate from Ye Big List of Files and read on the host later.

They scan for changes at startup, and only read the changed files.
So how do they deal with smart playlists? By rescanning all the time? And that must be a huge scan if 40gb has just been uploaded to it.
posted by bonaldi at 6:19 AM on January 8, 2007


On either of my Archos players, a scan of a large number of files takes a few seconds, and happens once.

And what's the financial incentive for Sandisk to make a plugin for Finder, when the vast majority of the market they can hope to sell to is on Windows? In any case, my point about that was that Sandisk does that checking when you are copying via the filesystem -- it doesn't require you to use a particular player-client, as the iPod, in principle, does.

There are several things that bother me about the iPod ecosystem, and it would probably be fruitful to tease them out. posted by lodurr at 6:38 AM on January 8, 2007


It bothers me that it's conceived as a closed system. People had to hack it to un-close it; they had to push Apple for every bit of openness that Apple gave up.
That bothers me a bit too: I hate that they crippled iTunes so you can't copy from the iPod (betas could do this), but I understand why.

I also appreciate the benefits of the closed system. The idea being that your iTunes and your iPod have identical content, and you personally never have to worry about what song is on what device, or whether you added something directly to the iPod and forgot to add to your library or whatever. Seamless and synced, permanently.

It bothers me that part of the system is so bad. iTunes is really pitiful. You have no idea how ill it makes me to say this, but RealJukebox 1.0 was far, far superior in usability to the current iteration of iTunes. Musicmatch makes iTunes look like some kind of elegant but unusable art-furniture
You're going to have to provide more here, because all you do is say it's shit without quantifying why. I'm not a big fan of iTunes 7's interface, but 6 at least was pretty damn hot at organising and finding music files.

As for RealJukebox 1.0, it defaulted to ripping in a format you couldn't share. This is more usable than iTunes?

It bothers me that the system is sub-par by most objective measures, yet it's treated as the ne plus ultra of the field. At one level, as a marketing professional, I get that. At an aesthetic level, it really bothers me.
What objective measures? It organises music better than the filesystem, and keeps it synced to the device with the minimum possible user intervention (although this has trade-offs in using it cross-machine, of course). It has virtually instanteous search, and saved-search functionality. What are these other things offering that are above-par?
posted by bonaldi at 6:47 AM on January 8, 2007


And what's the financial incentive for Sandisk to make a plugin for Finder, when the vast majority of the market they can hope to sell to is on Windows?

What's the financial incentive for Apple to cripple the iPod to make it work the way you want, when the vast majority of the market they hope to sell to doesn't want to work as hard as you to manage music files?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:48 AM on January 8, 2007


Obligatory link from Slashdot, Oct 23, 2001:
"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

posted by iviken at 6:56 AM on January 8, 2007


As for RealJukebox 1.0, it defaulted to ripping in a format you couldn't share. This is more usable than iTunes?

[shrug/] So does iTunes (MP4).

Objective measures: Sure, the iPod organizes music better than the filesystem does. But then, so does every other MP3 player -- and any client that creates a database from ID3 metadata.

If we're talking about iTunes (and I guess I was), then I fail to understand why it is that the three pane interface is superior to sorting by field and being able to collapse/expand by field, which is how most other player software works. It's a more intuitive intereface, AFAICS, because it's how people are accustomed to using their computers. The three-pane filter is like nothing they've ever seen before; there's nothing like it in nature, and precious little like it in computing or on other devices.

Sure is "different", though.

Other players also take the simple step of having a default playlist. In iTunes, you have to make one. I figured I must be missing something when I first tried iTunes - where the hell was the playlist? You know, the one window that's there where you drag and drop stuff you want to play? It's not there. You have to make it. That's not "easy", but it sure is "different".

Other players let you sort things easily in playlists. Not iTunes -- it places arbitrary and ill-documented constraints on how you can change the order of tunes in your playlists. Presumably you can think of a usability reason for this, too. Sure is different, though.

What's the financial incentive for Apple to cripple the iPod to make it work the way you want, when the vast majority of the market they hope to sell to doesn't want to work as hard as you to manage music files?

What's so hard about dragging and dropping, Mac user?

The very, very obvious point that I clearly shoudl have bashed you over the head with to ensure that you couldn't avoid seeing is this: If it can be done on Windows, surely it can be done on a Mac.

My other point that you don't buy -- apparently because you like iTunes -- is that iTunes doesn't make it easier, it makes it harder, because it makes the everyday experience of listening to music that much more of a chore. iTunes is a pain in my ass, and if there were something better on a Mac, I'd use it. But their silly "different" UI seems to have captured the imagination of all Mac developers -- and even non-Mac developers, as the Songbird project has illustrated by their slavish devotion to it. (Sure is "different", though.)
posted by lodurr at 7:03 AM on January 8, 2007


So does iTunes (MP4).

There are a number of non-iPod devices which now play unencrypted AAC files. Default preferences in iTunes have music ripped to the unencrypted AAC format.

What exactly have you been misinformed about that leads you to believe you cannot share AAC files?

My other point that you don't buy -- apparently because you like iTunes -- is that iTunes doesn't make it easier, it makes it harder, because it makes the everyday experience of listening to music that much more of a chore.

It's not that the market lacks for alternatives to the iPod+iTunes combinations (Napster, Windows PlaysForSure, whatever Zune has replaced PlaysForSure with) — it's just that the free market has decided that the alternatives pale in comparison.

I don't buy your point, but then neither does 70% of the MP3 player market, apparently.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:13 AM on January 8, 2007


[shrug/] So does iTunes (MP4)
[punch/] Yes, because there's no difference between DRM-encumbering and using a better yet still open format.

If we're talking about iTunes (and I guess I was), then I fail to understand why it is that the three pane interface is superior to sorting by field and being able to collapse/expand by field, which is how most other player software works. It's a more intuitive intereface, AFAICS, because it's how people are accustomed to using their computers.

I have no idea what this description of sorting by field/collapse by field means. If sorting by field means ... what iTunes does by default (the browse button off) then it does that -- in fact, it's pretty much identical to list view in the Finder. I don't know how you collapse a column though. Sure sounds different, though.

The three-pane filter is like nothing they've ever seen before
So were back/forward buttons. They were like nothing in nature either. Sure were different, though.

. I figured I must be missing something when I first tried iTunes - where the hell was the playlist?
I figured I must be missing something when I first used SoundJam. What the hell was this "default playlist"? I just wanted a list of all my music to pick from. Sure was different, though.

Not iTunes -- it places arbitrary and ill-documented constraints on how you can change the order of tunes in your playlists.
It places one (1) constraint: you can't rearrange them when you're sorting by a column header like length, or name.

What's so hard about dragging and dropping, Mac user?
It takes your one music library and breaks it into two, obtuse man.
posted by bonaldi at 7:19 AM on January 8, 2007


I'm not a geek, by any stretch of the imagination (techinical, that is, I'm very socially awkward, but I only learned what an OS was a few years ago). And I can get my files off an iPod.

You turn on hidden files, and then they show up like any other harddrive. You can play them just fine after copying them off the iPod, provided they aren't bought from iTunes. (Why does anyone buy from iTunes? The mp3s can often be found free online). The files names are truncated, which is annoying, and they are sorted randomly into files.

I would have preferred a drag and drop player - I use folders to organise my music, not tags, and I really dislike iTunes (especially since I work with remote libraries over wireless). But I looked, and I could not find a drag and drop player that had good reviews (there was one, but reviews said it was likely to break within a month or two), and had actual support in Britain (the other player I was interested in, a Cowan iAudio, has no offices in Britain and pretty well no support here - it was also more expensive here than an iPod).

Both times that I have bought an iPod, it was a compromise. There is no perfect player out there for me - but frankly, it's still a damn good player, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the robust hardware, if still deeply annoyed by the iTunes software. Except for podcasts - then iTunes is quite nice. I'm getting my Doctor Who commentaries, and Battlestar Galactica, and Dispatches, and Quirks and Quarks...

lodurr - I obviously have a much smaller sample size, but I know three people with iBooks and one person with a MacBook pro, and all are very happy with the quality. All are students and I know that two of them (former housemates) carried theirs with them every single day and put them through quite a lot of stress (slung about in knapsacks with only some padding, on and off tables in coffeeshops, libraries, working on laps at funny angles). My friend who got hers at the same time as my cheap PC really did put it through a lot (including dropping it, cat walking on it), and it was just much more robust than my PC.

Perhaps this is specific to the iBook - it is fairly compact with good screen closures and not a lot of ports to be damaged. But just things like the hinges seem to be better on their iBooks than even my new Dell (which after a few months had a very loose monitor hinge), and the hinges on my cheap off-brand PC shattered after about 18 months' use.

-----

I do find it funny that after several comments in the thread claimed that people buy iPods as fashion symbols (again, why would anyone wear the white earbuds in a big city? Talk about sending out signals to muggers), someone else commented that really iPods weren't very good looking, so why should you get one?

Fact is, I would never argue that the iPod is the player for everyone; everyone has different needs, and I wish the player market had more variety. But I would say that Apple did an excellent piece of design and marketing on this product. They hit a design (both in hardware and software) that is very popular, functional, attractive and robust. It's not perfect, but it fits many people's needs. And they got it on the market just at the right time to actually shape that market to fit that product. Actually, that was the most interesting part of the very long commercial documentary for me, along with the bits about Steve Jobs (whom I knew little of before). Apple really have turned themselves around from the also-rans they were when I was a kid.
posted by jb at 7:44 AM on January 8, 2007


blazecock: There are a number of non-iPod devices which now play unencrypted AAC files. Default preferences in iTunes have music ripped to the unencrypted AAC format.

... which isn't supported by very many devices. "A number" is a little vague. And Apple made that choice at a time when AAC wasn't supported by many devices at all. Trying to ram their idea of what ought to be the standard down our throats, when the "free market" had clearly decided that MP3 was the standard that mattered.

(BTW -- "free market"? WTF planet do you live on, dude? Markets are "free" only insofar as there is a free flow of information. It is the job of marketers -- such as myself, and lots of highly paid people at Apple, Microsoft, et al -- to control that flow. Get with the program.)

bonaldi: I don't know how you collapse a column though. Sure sounds different, though.

My mistake. I thought you were a Mac user, and would be familiar with a file system view that's been standard on Macs since the 1980s.

OK, well, with a Finder window open, look at the upper-left area of the window. Underneath the window controls, you'll find three little boxes: One has four squares in it; one has a bunch of parallel horizontal lines; the third has a bunch of what look like side by side table cells.

Click the middle one. Your Finder window will change to display all your files and folders in alphabetic order (at least, that's the default, unless you've used this view before and sorted them differently -- which you can't have done, since you've clearly never seen this view before). To the left of folders there will be a little isosceles triangle, with the vertex pointed to the right. Click on one of those -- you'll see the vertex rotate downward, and the folder will "expand" to display its contents.

Now, look at the top of the window. You'll see that the top of each column has a little "button" with words on it. Those words describe the kind of information displayed in that column. If you click on any one of those buttons, that column will sort, alphabetically.

Play with it for a couple of minutes. I think you'll find it very intuitive.

By the way, you can do something very similar on Windows and Linux systems. If you'd like a description of how, I can help you with the Windows (I'll just have to fire up Parallels to get the keystrokes and clicks just right), but I don't have a Linux system here to keycheck against, sorry.

It takes your one music library and breaks it into two, obtuse man.

Again, I made the error of assuming that you're actually familiar with how things work on a Mac. (Or a PC, for that matter.) When dragging and dropping from one volume to another, the default action is to copy, not to move. My mistake.
posted by lodurr at 7:49 AM on January 8, 2007


FWIW, I think iPods used to look better than they do. I also think Apple seriously missed the boat on making them all white for so long. They could have done brand establishment with the white players, then gone color -- a limited palette of very saturated colors, like blood orange or metafilter blue. The old polycarb (or lexan or whatever) iPods would have looked much cooler in color than the aluminum nanos and minis do. And the steel back gave it a nice solid feel. I don't really fault them on their design choices there, though, since I think they were actually looking at unit cost and design for manufacturing on the iPods, and the changes there were probably the right thing to do. I suspect it was a whole different set of managers making the manufacturing design decisions.

I could not find a drag and drop player that had good reviews

Well, there are a couple of issues there, I think. I've heard stories (unsubstantiated) that all the filesystem spoor that Macs leave on FAT drives will confuse some embedded OSs after a while. I never had a problem of that sort when dragging to my Archosen or to the Virgin or iRiver players I used before that. It does seem to confuse my phone (Moto e815), though.

The other issue is that if you're looking at a player that is purely UMS, it's probably a pretty cheap piece of shit. Sandisk players routinely get great reviews, and they're UMS, but they also have interfaces through player software. (Most notably, though not exclusively, through Rhapsody.) But, correcting myself, not for Macs, at least, I don't think they do. Which is a shame, because the Sandisk flash-based media players are really slick. (I think the Archos are a slightly better deal, but a lot of people don't like the Archos UI.)
posted by lodurr at 8:04 AM on January 8, 2007


If you're going to be patronising, it helps not to make yourself look stupid at the same time ... oh, you're a marketer. Sorry.

My mistake. I thought you were a Mac user, and would be familiar with a file system view that's been standard on Macs since the 1980s.
What, you mean "list view" like I described above? Yes, I'm familiar with it. I just couldn't tie it to your description. Because what you're essentially saying is that your system allows me to both sort by artist/album/genre *and* collapse by it. But I can't exclude in list view -- I can't see only labels "red" and "blue" for instance, only sort by them.

Further, list view is terrible for going quickly from sort to sort, and can't sort by closed views. Say I want to sort by playcount -- do I need to open every folder first?

Again, I made the error of assuming that you're actually familiar with how things work on a Mac. (Or a PC, for that matter.) When dragging and dropping from one volume to another, the default action is to copy, not to move. My mistake.
No, your error was thinking that you didn't have to read the preceding posts before replying. As has been pointed out to you repeatedly, one of iTunes-iPod's great selling point is that you don't have to organise things manually. You have one music library, and it is the same on both iPod and iTunes (with a subset for smaller players).

If you drag songs from various sources to the iPod outwith iTunes, you suddenly have two libraries -- the music in iTunes, and this other set of music, on the iPod. The seamlessness has been broken. But I see that I made the error of assuming you're not a thundering fuckspank.
posted by bonaldi at 8:07 AM on January 8, 2007


But I see that I made the error of assuming you're not a thundering fuckspank.

Ah, I see I made you upset. I'm so sorry.

I'm also sorry that you're unfamiliar with other, superior music software. It's probably because none of the good stuff is available on a Mac. A fact I lament near-daily. If you were familiar with, say, Musicmatch jukebox, you'd know that it's not necessary to expand folders -- all you have to do is change views. Except that instead of doing it through a patended three-pane interface that eats screen real estate, you just right-click.

Or do you use a one-button mouse? Splat-click, then.
posted by lodurr at 8:19 AM on January 8, 2007


"A number" is a little vague. And Apple made that choice at a time when AAC wasn't supported by many devices at all. Trying to ram their idea of what ought to be the standard down our throats, when the "free market" had clearly decided that MP3 was the standard that mattered.

Let's just say, "a number well more devices than what Microsoft/Zune will allow."

And MP3 isn't exactly an open standard either; device manufacturers have to pay Fraunhofer a license fee for every MP3 decoder they ship in each device. Why does Fraunhofer keep ramming their license fees down our throats?! /whinewhine

How many Ogg Vorbis devices are there? Many less than the number of devices which support closed, yet ubiquitous industry standards like MPEG 1 Layer 3 or AAC. Being a self-proclaimed "geek" I'm sure you know this, right?

Anyway, the idea that people are "forced" to use AAC is laughable. Now the rhetoric has devolved into equating easily-changed default settings with coercive behavior.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:23 AM on January 8, 2007


Now the rhetoric has devolved into equating easily-changed default settings with coercive behavior.

LOL! Dude, I did not bring it up in the first place, OK? And I never said anyone was forcing anyone else. Though I certainly did make a one-off comment implying strongly that someone was trying.

And if you want to stop arguing about the virtues of the iPod+iTunes, you're free to do so at any time. Though the longer this goes on, the more it looks like religious devotion rather than a rational choice.
posted by lodurr at 8:28 AM on January 8, 2007


... oh, and: I guess I missed the part where I said that MP3 was an open standard. I did not miss the part (though you seem to have) where I said that it was the standard that the free market had "chosen"...
posted by lodurr at 8:29 AM on January 8, 2007


... just like the iPod.
posted by bonaldi at 8:31 AM on January 8, 2007


bonaldi, it's great that you get the reference, but disappointing that you missed the joke.
posted by lodurr at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2007


And if you want to stop arguing about the virtues of the iPod+iTunes, you're free to do so at any time. Though the longer this goes on, the more it looks like religious devotion rather than a rational choice.

You seem hell-bent on trashing anything Apple makes by any misinformed means necessary, even holding on to wildly mistaken ideas about how the technology actually works. One would almost think you've never actually used these products.

All I've said is that the free market has demonstrated that 70% of the people who buy a player do not apparently agree with your subjective ideas of what makes a graphical interface useful. Time for you to go into a different business, maybe.

The devotion you and others have shown to hating on iPod users seems, well, religious to me, since it is clearly not based on any published fact.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:39 AM on January 8, 2007


I've taken to spelling things out for you, since I was crippled by the irony of you taking others to task for not reading your posts properly.

I just looked at MusicMatch (average Cnet rating 4.3), and remembered it from the pre-iTunes Windows world. I suppose it says a lot about you that a bastardised list view with double-level sort makes more sense than a browser, but it does fit in with your isolationist worldview.

Anyway, shouldn't you be off home soon? You've got all those folders to organise tonight, and it takes a while to get home on horseback. Better that than using the objectively subpar pedal interface to cars (unfamiliar, not found in nature. Sure is different though!).

On preview: They're not subjective, BP, they're "objective"! and "familiar" = "intuitive" and "lodurr" = "right", even when the world says he isn't.
posted by bonaldi at 8:43 AM on January 8, 2007


blazecock: The devotion you and others have shown to hating on iPod users...

It's interesting that you seem to need to perceive it that way. That's at least the second time you've made that comment, though I decided the first time not to assume it was directed at me. I see I was in error: You were (mistakenly) directing it at me, I now see.

As it happens, I haven't said anything bad about iPod users, though. Sorry you can't see that.

My opinions about iTunes are based on experience using it for the last two years, and with other player software (Databecker, Musicmatch, Winamp, Cog, Real Jukebox, MS Media player in a few incarnations, etc.).

If you have specific counters to things that I've said, you're welcome to air them. Do you have QC figures for MacBooks? Do you have some kind of proof that market acceptance has anything to do with quality? (I'll give you advance warning of my one-word response: "Microsoft.")

Bonaldi: As it happens, and as should be clear, [irony] were you actually reading my posts [/irony], I do use iTunes. I use it because there is nothing better available for the Mac. When Songbird stabilises, I'll probably start using that instead, since it's already better from a UI perspective. (If only it wouldn't crash. But it's alpha, so at least it has an excuse to be sub-optimal.)

As it happens, I do sort my folders. It makes it easier to share my music with other people in my house. (Even a -- what was the phrase? -- "thundering fuckspank" ought to be able to admit that iTunes sharing leaves much to be desired, especially when other people in your household simply won't use it.)

The real problem here might be, actually (though you're too focused on sticking up for Steve Jobs to see through to it) that you care more about metadata than I do. I actually don't care that much about how often I listen to a particular song; I do care about whether I want to listen to it now. I don't care how many stars I gave it, and in fact it's kind of deceptive to rely on that since, let's be real, who really gives a star-rating to every single track they have? So it is of more or less no value to me to carry over iTunesey metadata to my music player. If you care about those things, more power to you. Go nuts. Just don't expect me not to notice that you're being every bit as geeky as the geeks -- just in a different way.
posted by lodurr at 9:06 AM on January 8, 2007


If you have specific counters to things that I've said, you're welcome to air them.

Every comment of mine has been a factual refutation of each your baseless assertions, showing that you haven't used any of these products, and/or you clearly don't have a clue how they work.

Do you have QC figures for MacBooks?

No, but then we weren't talking about MacBooks, were we? We were talking about iPods, which is what the thread was about. But then your comments have been following these sorts of bizarre lines so I think I'm done here. Thanks for your time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:26 AM on January 8, 2007


I could not find a drag and drop player that had good reviews

I think you misunderstood, or I'm sorry, but I don't understand your response. I don't use a Mac - I'm on Windows, and my husband on Linux (that's why we wanted a drag and drop). What I was saying was that just that I would have liked a drag and drop player, but I couldn't find any drag and drop players which didn't sound either poorly made or were unsupported here. Basically, I found the Archos (bad reviews of the hardware, likely to break) and the Cowon (unsupported in Britain, and more expensive). If you are in North America, especially in the US, you get cheaper electronics and more choice than we do. (I even went into ask mefi to get ideas, and there were great responses, but none of them were actually the value of the iPod).

I was commenting in response to the often stated criticsm of iPods ("but you can find better/cheaper players"), by saying "actually, I couldn't". And as long as Apple keeps their price in just that middling place they are in right now, I think they really will continue to dominate the market.
posted by jb at 9:28 AM on January 8, 2007


Every comment of mine has been a factual refutation of each your baseless assertions, showing that you haven't used any of these products, and/or you clearly don't have a clue how they work.

It would be helpful if you could explain that a little more, because I didn't see much content in your posts that even arguably fits that description.

blazecock, there is a difference between "Na-ah, is too!", and a "factual refutation." Maybe you should learn what that difference is before you try to actually have discussions like this.

But hey, your handle is "Blazecock Pileon", after all. I know, just a joke, I can take a joke. Maybe I'll register as "Johnny Shitflinger" and complain about how people never take me seriously...
posted by lodurr at 9:31 AM on January 8, 2007


It would be helpful if you could explain that a little more, because I didn't see much content in your posts that even arguably fits that description.

Sure. You claimed people can't share AAC files. False. You claimed people can't play AAC files on anything but an iPod. False. You claimed Apple coerces people into using AAC. False. I could go on, but your ignorant display has embarassed you enough, I think.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:38 AM on January 8, 2007


I thought you were done.

That's a pretty disingenuous example. Here, I'll quote it so that the context is clear:
As for RealJukebox 1.0, it defaulted to ripping in a format you couldn't share. This is more usable than iTunes?

[shrug/] So does iTunes (MP4).
"[shrug/]" was meant to be a sort of "whatever" response; I guess it's plausible that you could parse that away or take it wrongly, but why get so worked up about that? And in context, why does that particular statement bother you so much? I had remarked that I preferred the UI of RealJukebox, while making it clear that I didn't like RealJukebox very much.

Jesus, man, grow the fuck up. It's just fucking software.
posted by lodurr at 9:43 AM on January 8, 2007


All I've said is that the free market has demonstrated that 70% of the people who buy a player do not apparently agree with your subjective ideas of what makes a graphical interface useful.

More people might read and participate on Fark, but that's not why I prefer MetaFilter. I have nothing against people who do read it, I just wonder why when the alternatives (to my very subjective opinion) seem better.

And are Apple's prices really 'middling'? In the UK and Finland they are seriously more expensive than other MP3 players.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2007


While we're on the subject, here's a serious question: What happens 2-4 years from now when everyone can slip a 2 Gb SD/Memory stick chip into their phone and listen to music/store photos/videos etc? Will there still be a demand for a separate device then?
posted by euphorb at 11:51 AM on January 8, 2007


so, what have we learned in this thread?
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 12:17 PM on January 8, 2007


Good question, and the answer's not obvious. See, in principle, we can do that now. More or less all the newer phones support stereo audio playback, and have the computing horsepower to handle DRM if someone will write a plugin for the embedded OS on that phone.

The real question is whether the service providers will let your scenario happen, and I think the answer also is available to us now in the form of Vcast. Verizon has made it abundantly clear that if they can avoid it, they do not want people moving anything onto their phones except through them. They're going to make it hard for you to use your Chocolate or your Moto e815 or kRazr as a replacement for your iPod or Sansa or Rio.

Given how close to the vest they play, I think the truth about Apple's plans for the phone segment are nearly impossible for us to know. If they go true to form, they will enter "late" (by analysts' judgement) and play well enough to Make an impact. But I wouldn't bet on them, personally, because I don't think sr. mgmgt at Apple can do phone service, and the competition in the phone space is pretty darn fierce. Apple's product cycle is a bit too long to compete with the likes of LG, Moto and Nokia.

They're so cash-rich, though, that they could probably buy somebody. I'm not going to look up the valuation, but I wonder how much LG could be had for. (Would the Korean gov't let them, though...)
posted by lodurr at 12:21 PM on January 8, 2007


Since Jess killed our double noob flameout, I guess this is the best we can expect. It's barely enough to make that day's old popcorn seem appetizing.
posted by caddis at 1:28 PM on January 8, 2007


If this is the best you can do for flameout TV, you need to go start some fights. I think you're too late on the "askme 2 week limit" thread, though, as it seems to be peetering out.
posted by lodurr at 1:55 PM on January 8, 2007


I didn't like the hard-drive ipod so much, and it eventually died on me (twice - the replacement died as well), but i gave in and got the nano, and the flash memory is much better and less prone to problems.

There are people who will buy just about anything (and go into debt to do so) for the sake of status; I wouldn't say that ipod is any more purchased for this reason than any other appliance. What I enjoy about the debate, though, is that those who choose not to buy one, and yet feel the need to criticize those who might do so for the sake of status, are themselves trying to impress others with their overly adamant dismissal of the product and its users. I mean, if you're going to put that much effort into it, you might save some time and energy by just buying one already. Or at least quietly enjoy that others are throwing away their money on something you don't consider worthwhile, which puts you ahead of the game. (I particularly enjoyed this route upon contemplating those who paid >$1000 for the PS3, which turns out to be available in the stores like everywhere at regular price.)
posted by troybob at 2:05 PM on January 8, 2007


lodurr, I'm not so sure I agree with you on the phone front. Here in the UK music phones have been quite big in the last year and most new models ship with 512mb (or more via expandable) memory, specifically designed to replace any music playing device you might own. My girlfriend recently got a free upgrade on her contract for a phone with 4 gig internal memory. She'd never wanted an iPod, but with a phone with 4x the space of a Shuffle she's loving it. It has a radio tuner as well.

In Finland (being the land of Nokia after all) they were already advertising the new 'music editions' of the N-series. The biggest model has 8 gig of internal memory, which in my mind is a serious contender for most portable music players...

Maybe someone familiar of the market in Japan can fill us in on what's going on there (as the technology tends to be a few years ahead of us, or used to be anyway)?
posted by slimepuppy at 3:29 PM on January 8, 2007


slimepuppy - I just priced MP3 players in the UK (about 2 weeks ago), and iPods were running in the middle of the pack. A little lower than some others - about £165 from Amazon, compared to about £180-190 for Cowan iAudio, iRiver, Creative, etc at similar sizes - about 30 GB. It's £189 or so straight from Apple. I'd say that way middling, in that I found players for less and for more.
posted by jb at 6:20 PM on January 8, 2007


Or maybe it was just the Cowon that was £180, and the rest were about £165. But the iPod was definitely not more expensive than the other brands.
posted by jb at 6:25 PM on January 8, 2007


slimepuppy: Call it my skewed US perception. As I was trying to communicate, it's really a carrier issue, not a phone issue -- the phones are great, if your carrier doesn't fsck them up for you. Verizon in particular likes to make it difficult to just move music to the phone because they want to sell you Vcast, and for some reason I don't understand (ok, I'm lying, I do*), they're pretty successful. So my bet is based on that -- it's a revenue model a capitalist can understand.

I buy in mostly to the argument that Apple won't do phone unless they can be more than just another handset vendor. iTunes Store + iPod is the model to look at -- they'll want something more than just "toss it to the provider and let them screw the firmware", which is kind of the current model, at least over here. But that may be my skewed Verizon perspective...

Maybe they just go in Europe, first. That could be a smart play. I doubt it, though. They're really pretty conservative on their market strategy. (As opposed to their marketing.)
posted by lodurr at 5:44 AM on January 9, 2007


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