Does Apple's iPod line-up need a (big?) upgrade?
Apple's race to dominate the world probably started back in 2001 when they introduced the iPod. It changed Apple. It changed the music industry. It changed the way everybody listened to music.
Now it's over eleven years ago before the first iPod was introduced. We've now got an iPod without a display, an iPod with a display, an iPod with an even bigger display that runs iOS and a classic iPod for the real music fans.
While people have become less and less interested in these so-called iPods, it's still something Apple earns money with. Nowadays this money is like a small "tip", but if they were earning this kind of revenue from the iPods alone in the nineties, they'd be in heaven.
Just recently, I was browsing through the online Apple Store looking at all the iPods. I don't really care about iPods anymore, because I use my smartphone for listening to music, but it's still something that shouldn't be neglected. I feel like Apple should offer even higher-quality iPods with better battery life, more capacity and updated internals. Let's go through all iPods one-by-one.
Note upfront: while all of these updates would cut somehow in Apple's profit margin, I feel that it would definitely pay-off. First of all, customers would get higher-quality devices which offer a better user experiences. Second of all, using, for example, higher quality displays or batteries, they could slowly bring the costs down for their entire line-up (including iPhone and iPad).
It's probably the iPod you can do very little with. It's already small, it's already thin, it's already light but it definitely lags behind in terms of capacity. There's only a 2 GB variant which I feel like is a little bit too little. Obviously, Apple wants customers to buy one of their more expensive products and they are not going to give the iPod shuffle 8, 16 or even 32 GB of storage but I feel like 4 GB should be the absolute minimum.
Also, noticeably, the iPod shuffle doesn't have a dock connector. At this point, I think there are only two reasons for this:
- Apple was unable to make an iPod with the 30-pins dock connector
- They want to make more revenue and feel like: "Hey, if you want to use a docking station, you'll need to buy one of our more expensive iPods"
The first problem has been solved: the Lightning connector is way, way smaller and should fit into an iPod shuffle. So my guess is either they aren't really paying attention to the iPod shuffle, or they want to force people to buy more expensive iPods.
Battery life is excellent for such a small device, namely up to fifteen hours, but I find it hard to believe that Apple can't bring this up with another hour or so. This is a mobile device, and I feel like mobile devices should last as long as possible on one charge.
Finally, it still ships with the 'old' earphones. Come on, Apple, those new 'EarPods' probably aren't that much more expensive. What would it cost? An extra $0.05? EarPods provide much better sound compared to the old earphones. If music is really that important to Apple, they should provide some decent earphones with it - namely the EarPods.
There's actually very little to complain about. It's recently been refreshed and it looks really nice. There are really two things I feel like the iPod nano is lagging behind: the display and the battery.
The display could be improved in so many ways. First of all, throw in some IPS technology for better colours and viewing angles. Right now, we're thrown right back into the iPhone 3G/3GS-display era. And maybe, next year, we could see an iPod nano with a high pixel density? A retina display...?
The really bad thing here is the battery life. It definitely doesn't suck when you listen to music (you can achieve up to 30 hours of music playback time), but it definitely sucks when playing back video. You can reach a terrible low of 3.5 hours of video playback. What this mainly indicates is that Apple is using a very cheap and inefficient chip. Apple has shown us, with the iPhone, that by both better hardware and software improvements, video playback can be driven up.
Oh, and please put the Lightning connector in the middle.
The only blemish in the iPod touch line-up is the fourth-generation iPod touch. It uses an old A4 chip and has a crappy 3.5" Retina display (with crappy I mean: bad viewing angles, bad colours).
The fifth generation appears to be an excellent iPod touch. Next year an A6 chip and 8 megapixel camera, please. Nothing to see here, move along.
Don't mess with the iPod classic, is what some would say, but I feel like it's time for an upgrade. Don't do anything with the design, but beef up the internals a bit.
First of all: more capacity. It's the iPod classic. It's the iPod. It's the music player. We should go beyond the current 160 GB of storage.
Second of all: get rid of the old earphones. We've had this discussion with the iPod shuffle, but a $249 iPod should definitely ship with some decent earphones. Throw in some EarPods, Apple!
Also, replace the 30-pins dock connector with the Lightning connector. This would be a controversial move, but the Lightning connector is the connector from here on going forward. Let's go all-digital.
Let's not forget about the display. Again, I'd like to see at least some IPS technology here: give us some better colours and better viewing angles. Also, if possible, throw in some extra pixels so we achieve that 'Retina display'-status.
Finally, battery life. It's excellent. Thirty-six hours of audio playback, but a silly six hours of video playback. I think that, just like with the iPod nano, they use a cheap chip that's excellent for music playback, but inefficient when it comes to video playback.
Apple, throw in some of your 'magic'.
What is your opinion? Do you feel like Apple's current iPod line-up is more than good enough? Or are there things that they should definitely improve?