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Saturday, December 04, 2004


Podcasting: party on Adam Curry’s MP3 player

Adam Curry

Yet another major media article on podcasting. Bonus points to Brian Braiker for drawing this comparison between coverage of blogging and podcasting:


Just when the mainstream media had finally managed to figure out what blogging was all about, Adam Curry had to go ahead and invent podcasting. A podcast is a radio show that listeners subscribe to online. Every time a new program is posted, it automatically feeds into the subscriber’s computer. From there, the listener zaps it onto a digital music player and hits the road: Think of it as TiVo for your MP3 player. “There’s a lot of great radio out there that I would love to listen to when I am ready for it,” says Curry (yes, that Adam Curry—MTV’s old-school golden-feathered late-’80s veejay). “Anyone can come and party on my MP3 player.”

With our 20/20 hindsight pointed in the right direction, we can take away from the swift explosion of podcasting that we bloggers could have been taken seriously far sooner if only we had enlisted the help of an 80’s pop icon turned techno-guru as our spokesperson. If only Doc Searls had feathered hair.


 
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Flash-based iPod: who cares?

iPods

John Gruber over at Daring Fireball weighs in on the speculations circulating about Apple releasing a flash-based version of the iPod. He thinks the predictions made by most are based on an artificial distinction between hard-drive and flash-based digital music players:


The problem with this logic is that “hard-drive players” and “flash-memory players” aren’t actually product categories. Storage mechanisms are implementation details, not features. I’d wager that the vast majority of iPod owners have no idea whether there’s a hard drive in their iPod.

Likely true. Gruber goes on to assert that making a low-capacity, cheaper version of the iPod would be uncharacteristic for Apple because it would undercut the high quality of the iPod brand. It does seem to be moving in the wrong direction to take a fantastically engineered device and dumb it down to appeal to that market sector that evaluates price alone as the only factor in purchasing. I mean, Apple may as well start selling PCs, in that case. ;>


The point of this is to emphasize that “flash-memory-based”, in and of itself, is not a feature. If Apple is making an iPod significantly smaller than even the Mini, it might not be particularly cheap. And if they’re making a cheaper iPod with significantly lower storage capacity, they’re risking the iPod’s hard-earned reputation as a terrific gadget. Apple has never indicated that they intend to corner the entire market for MP3 players — just the market for good ones.

No matter what the case, if there is a flash memory iPod in the pipeline, the fact that it uses flash memory is the least interesting part of the story.

Least interesting to the consumer, for sure. But endless fodder for the pundits. :) One fine point of disagreement: Gruber thinks ‘mini’ is as tiny as Apple could go: “if Apple intends to produce iPods even smaller than the Mini, what will they call them? iPod Tiny?” I think there’s a more obvious name for the mythical device: iPod Micro.


 
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Backup your Mac

Take Control of Mac OS X Backups

No matter how stable the platform, and we all know how stable OS X is, it is still a wise idea to have a backup strategy in place. Drives fail, and without a relatively recent backup, one could find oneself shedding tears over the loss of beloved data.

A new PDF e-book from Joe Kissell promises to help you get a reliable backup strategy in place. “Take Control of Mac OS X Backups” is geared towards single computers and small networks. The $10 price tag for this 668K download includes a $5 coupon for Small Dog Electronics.


 
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Apple voted most likely to grow

ipod

Speaking of glowing analyst predictions, here’s one from Morgan Stanley’s Rebecca Runkle: among computer manufacturers, Apple stands the best chance of gaining market share in 2005. This despite lowering her previous forecast of PC unit-shipment growth down to 9 percent from 11 percent, because of an expected slowdown in the market.

Runkle cites the momentum of the iPod and the new iMac as driving forces behind her prediction.


 
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2005: Year of the Mac?

Apple logo

Following Apple news lately has been more exciting than most high drama: analysts crowing, stock prices soaring, investors trading at high volume, stock prices falling again. Frankly, I’m exhausted!

Spymac columnist Michael Simon has a take on what it all means:


Through all this, two things were apparent: 1) Investors are both extremely fickle and impressionable, and dangerous combination when handing millions of dollars a day; and 2) For better or worse, Wall Street is paying close attention to Apple.

Sure, all eyes are on the iPod, but if Apple plays its cards right, a switcheroo could be just what the doctor ordered: A marketing push, coupled with a few money-saving promotions could easily push Mac sales above 1 million in a quarter for the first time in the company’s history. Now that the iPod has firmly solidified its position in pop culture, perhaps it’s time to shift some of its attention back to the real task at hand: selling computers.

I’m sure that moving more Macintosh computers has been part of the strategy underlying heavy iPod marketing. Regardless, I think it’s pretty exciting that the iPod is achieving such success in its own right. After a bit of a slow start, the iPod has become ‘the little player that could’ - and did. All of this buzz and exposure for Apple is bound to bring good things to its computer sales over the long term. Could 2005 be the year of the Mac? I would certainly love to see it.


 
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iPod mini to see 25% storage increase in 2005

iPod mini

Apple Insider reports the iPod mini is slated for a revision that will increase its capacity by 25%, up from 1000 to 1250 song capacity. The new mini will reportedly be based around a 5G hard drive, as with competitors Dell Pocket DJ and Rio Carbon.

Apple learned a lesson from being unable to meet demand on the iPod mini after its release in January of this year. Insiders expect Apple to amass a sizable stockpile of the players before making an official announcement.


 
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Mini store to open in Bethesda, MD on December 11

Bethesda mini store

Bethesda, Maryland is the next lucky recipient of an Apple mini retail store. The new store, located at 4829 Bethesda Avenue, will open December 11. The mini store will complement its full-sized sister outlet opened at the Montgomery Mall this May.

The first 500 folks through the doors will receive a free Apple Commemorative T-shirt. To the nutty Mac fanatics who will undoubtedly camp out: load up on the fleece, will ya? It’s chilly in Maryland in December. Luckily, your iPod can stay toasty in its hoodie...


 
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Ode to iPod and iTMS Canada

iPods

Globe and Mail correspondent Shawna Richer penned a nice article in celebration of the iTMS Canada opening that also serves as a glowing ode to iPod:


Unarguably, the iPod is the most life-altering gadget to arrive in my 37 years on the planet. For people who cherish song, who find it impossible to live without, and need to exercise their musical freewill at the swing of a mood, the iconic, milky white music player has improved life and listening immeasurably… But it’s more than an unstoppable machine. It is your personal soundtrack.

One of the elements that make this wondrous device so life-altering is its uncanny ability, when on random play, to intuitively select playlists that seem to fit the mood far more perfectly than what one may have consciously chosen:


It has offered up the previously unmixed but impossibly sublime road trip Browne-Stones-Springsteen trinity of Running On Empty-Moonlight Mile-Born To Run. It has sensed, at the 50-minute mark on the treadmill at the gym with 10 to go that throwing me an AC/DC-Pearl Jam-Neil Young combo gets the job done.

How does it know when I desperately need a happy-go-lucky shot of John Mayer? Or that when I leave the office to walk home that Dexter Gordon’s Fried Bananas from Live At The Village Vanguard is precisely long enough to take me door to door and exactly joyful enough to lift the day’s stress? I swear it knows me better than I know myself.

I profoundly agree. When left to her own devices, DJ iPod always serves up something curious and random that, zen-like, turns out to be delightfully perfect. Leave commercial radio to stifle itself in its own strict formats; iPod knows the optimal playlist most likely involves Beethoven following hot on the heels of Iron Maiden. I can’t think of a time when she’s ever been wrong.

Anyone have stories of magical moments enhanced by iPod shuffle?

(via MyAppleMenu)


 
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Friday, December 03, 2004


iPod for two, please: share the love with XtremeMac Audio Splitter

Audio splitter

How many of you have had those endearing moments of sharing your iPod’s tunes with a friend, each taking an earphone and suffering through mono music, heads huddled together? The camaraderie is quaint, but for $12.95 you can share your iPod’s stereo sound in all its glory.

The new Audio Splitter for iPod from XtremeMac allows you to share music with another listener. Compatible with 3/4G iPods, iPod photo and iPod mini, the device requires no external power and does not drain your iPod battery. It will also not arbitrate any disagreements about who gets to DJ!
 

 
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iTMS UK pricing: unfair?

iTunes Music Store

The British Consumer Association (now known as Which?) in September filed a complaint against Apple, alleging that iTunes Music Service prices in the UK are unfairly inflated as compared to track pricing in France and Germany. They claim the iTMS UK charges 20% more for tracks than in the former two countries, and that customers are unfairly barred from utilizing the German and French iTMS sites.

The case was originally under the jurisdiction of the British Office of Fair Trading, but has been referred to the European Commission as the more appropriate body to rule on the claim.

Any European iTMS customers have any thoughts on this? Is Apple price fixing, or are they following appropriate pricing patterns for these markets?


 
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