Sean Sperte

Nano, nano

07 September 2005

Today Apple introduced a brand new iPod line (simultaneously discontinuing the minis), an update (not worthy of “upgrade,” but we’ll get to that) to their iTunes software, and Motorola’s new music-camera-phone called ROKR. There’s lots to talk about, but not a lot to get excited about. It’d be a different story if we still had a keynote to look forward to in the next few weeks – but we don’t. This is it. That’s all. Let’s get started …

The ROKR

I guess the only surprise with this [official] announcement is that there were no surprises. Everything from specs to look to carrier availablity had already been known and discussed (not just speculated) in previous weeks leading up to this event. We’ve been waiting for the so-called iPhone for nearly a year now – longer, actually. It’s a bit of a disappointment (embarrassment?) for most Apple-loyalists. The only good thing that may come of this is more people using iTunes. (Though, it’s been speculated that this may be an Apple “test” phase to deploy their own phone model or carrier. But when have we ever seen Apple do “tests”?)

The only consolation I took from this announcement was that the phone is available from Cingular (my provider), which further solidifies that relationship with Apple. If you remember, years ago when iSync was first introduced, Steve Jobs demoed it using a Sony Ericsson T68 on “Cingular Wireless, a great provider here in California.” Still, am I the only one who finds this a bit tweaked:

Yeah, that’s a little odd.

(The other non-surprise is that the ability to download songs directly to the phone through Cingular’s network has not yet been announced.)

iTunes 5

It’s gotta slick new window, but the same interface. It feels faster, but is missing some punch (how come it lists podcasts in the Library now, and why can’t I turn off that function?). It’s hardly worth a full version upgrade. I expected to see at least one of the following:

But, no, we get folders for our playlists (I guess that’s cool) and a new, “handy” search bar. Oh, and they threw in the ability to do album reviews … was this a requested feature?

To be fair, the software is still FREE and does include a lot more “under the hood” improvements. Windows users can now sync their calendars and contacts from Outlook to their iPods, parents can regulate permissions for explicit material and the “shuffle” feature got an overhaul.

I just don’t think it’s worth the “5”.

iPod nano

The beef of today’s event was the introduction of nano, the new iPod – thinner than the shuffle and narrower, smaller and lighter then the iPod mini. It’s cool, to be sure, and I want one (of course). They come in two variants – white and black – and are available (supposedly) today. The coolest thing, I think, is the new dock port connector / lanyard / headphone accessory. I still haven’t figured out if its included with the nano (I doubt it), but I’ll likely get one anyway.

We saw this coming, of course, but didn’t know it would be nano, or that it would be an entirely new form factor. Sort of.

If only Motorola could keep their employees and partners as quiet as Apple does, this event would actually have been worth while.

Madonna, iPhone and more

It’s also nice to see Apple finally added Madonna’s entire catalogue to the Music Store. My friend Tom will be ecstatic about that. Now all we’re missing Dave Matthews and Radiohead and we’ll be set!

The unfortunate thing about today’s event is that the media (and therefore rest of the world) thinks this is the iPhone, and it’s from Apple. It’s not either. Apple’s going to have a hard time overcoming this PR hurdle and breaking the perception that the crummy Motorola interface wasn’t designed by them.

There are some other notable mentions about today’s news, but I’d like some more time to evaluate every aspect (and actually get my hands on a nano).