Opinion: Are we not clever enough to withstand Apple's spin

Columns & Opinion, iPod, MP3 players

Jon_small_new.jpgJonathan Weinberg writes…

Hands up who’s going to be buying a new iPod after last night’s announcements from San Francisco? Keep your hands up if you are all fools – and what is it they say about those and their money, yep, it is easily

I’ve touched on this before on Tech Digest when I said why I wouldn’t be snapping up an iPhone but what is it about Apple that makes people follow the firm so blindly without a thought to exactly how sheep-like they are being.

In fact, if Steve Jobs would have last night announced a new product that could only be bought from the special Apple store over the nearest cliff, thousands of fan boys and girls would have Lemming-like walked to the edge and jumped off waving dollars, £20 notes and credit cards in their hands.

Today’s papers are full of the announcements, all buying into Jobs’ “seven wonders of the world” line about the new touchscreen iPod. There’s no doubt it looks great but DO YOU REALLY NEED IT! And yes, I know you can say that about all technology but it’s a serious point where iPods are concerned.

Apple feeds off the hype that follows its announcements and I am surprised they still get away with it. I mean how often do you change your washing machine? Or you oven? Or your TV? Or your digital camera?

We buy those expecting them to last years but far too many people seem happy to splash out a couple of hundred quid or more on an iPod only to “trade up” six months later when Steve appears on a big screen presumably sending out some sort of psychic wave. I can’t think of any other explanation for the cultish behaviour that sees millions seemingly brainwashed into replacing a product that’s perfectly good for one that doesn’t really do anything different to what they hold in their hands.

Take the new Nanos, they’ve had a bit of a colour makeover and they’ve been made wider to make room for the bigger screen so people can “watch” video. A) what’s the point of buying a wider Nano, it’s charm
and raison d’être lies in its lovely svelte form factor and B) how many people actually watch video on their iPod anyway – not that many in percentage terms of those owning one capable of allowing it.

Cards on table now – I have a Nano – a second generation one. I resisted the urge for years to buy into the Apple treadmill but loved the tiny gizmo so much I bought one. But nothing would convince me to get one of the new versions – my eyes are bad enough without trying to focus on a two-inch widescreen – and they don’t look at all as enticing as what’s come before.

Then there’s the latest iPod Classic with its new 160GB of storage space. Let’s get this straight, if you have that much music, then please give up every other aspect of your life and devote the rest of your years on this planet to listening to it. Only then will you get close to enjoying what this gadget offers.

No-one needs that kind of storage on a portable music device but I can be sure thousands decided in an instant of seeing Mr Jobs on the internet to double their memory and move from 80GB – and people wonder why the environment is in trouble when there’s so much techno-waste around.

And so we come to the iPod Touch with WiFi, Safari for internet surfing and YouTube on board. In 8GB and 16GB models it will cost £199 and £269 which in comparison to every other music device on the market is way overpriced. But again, there’s people now dribbling and shaking with excitement this morning at the very thought of waggling their finger at it.

Now, I can’t lie, I think it looks a very sexy device – but it’s a MIRAGE! Want to listen to music? Then buy a normal iPod. Want to surf the internet on the move? Then do it on your existing mobile or PDA. Better still, buy yourself any kind of smartphone and you can do all of it. Slap an Apple brandname on though and they’ll come flocking into stores as if the Red Sea has just parted. Why? Why? Why?

Being able to download tracks from iTunes via WiFi is certainly a bonus, but it’s unlikely you’re going to be in Starbucks or at the airport so desperate for the latest effort from some X Factor reject that you can’t wait until you get to your PC.

As with all technology, it’s smoke and mirrors and the only thing for certain when the fog clears is the bank balance of these idiots will be at least a hundred pounds down if not two very soon and as the clouds disappear it will reveal the massive smiles on the faces of Steve Jobs and Apple’s shareholders as they pull off yet another persuasive PR masterstroke.

And guess what, in six months or so it’ll start all over again – probably with a 20GB Touch. You just see if I am right!

Jonathan Weinberg
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  • Jonathan you are offering some extremely weak arguments in this article. Especially concerning the 160Gb iPod Classic, you missed the fact that it also plays video, for those who watch video on a portable device storage is the #1 concern. A movie is around 2Gb, a few movies will take up a large chunk of room before you add photo’s, music, audiobooks (some are 40+ hours), podcasts and video podcasts. I would like a new iPod Nano however I have 4.5Gb of music, 1Gb of podcasts at any time, 4.5Gb of photo’s, ooops I ran outta room.

    As for the iPod Touch, a smartphone or PDA is NOT a good device to do any of what the iPod Touch does. PDA? Are you serious? Have you ever used one? They are next to useless, smartphones are MORE expensive than an iPod Touch and have no where near the storage. Sorry, but very very weak.

  • Am I buying a new iPod touch? Yes, from a 5G iPod I’ve had 2 years now. The existing iPod will now permenantly sit in it’s nice little dock next to my TV. Is my wife upgrading her nano? No because the upgrade isn’t worth it and she said she has no interest in watching videos on a 2″ screen.

    I have no plans to get another iPod within the next few years because I seriously doubt that apple will make any real improvements and 16GB is (almost) enough for me. I have 2-3 GB of music I actually like (out of 30GB on my current ipod, 90% of which is never listened to) and would be more than happy trimming my collection to that. Plus there’s not much left for apple to do. They can’t give it a much larger screen without making the device “too large” and I don’t want a phone that clunky.

    When will I buy a new iPod after this? When this one breaks or I can get a full copy of OSX on a 1024×768 screen that size (4 years from now?).

    As for your comparisons – they all suck. I don’t take my iPod everywhere and I don’t want my phone to take up that much room. A PDA can do most of what this can, for the same price…so why not go with the ipod?

    “Better still, buy yourself any kind of smartphone and you can do all of it”

    You mean an iPhone? 🙂 Sure there are others, but they’re ALL $500+, so where’s the argument?

    Plenty of people will be getting the new iPod touch or the new Nano simply because they are major upgrades to an incredibly successful product line. Your argument basically equates to “get something else that can do the same thing” which is, well, lame.

  • I don’t need 160 Gb… today, 120 Gb is Ok for me. I have about 250 CDs, more then 5000 pictures and some movies so 120 Gb is all i need right now, however i hope to keep growing my music collection, keep taking pictures. 160 Gb is perfect!!!

    I’m sure for some people 1 Gb of music is enough but for others is not, thats the reason why there are different sizes (isn’t that obvious?).

  • I’m glad to see that the ipod has finaly caught up with the Zune in regards to the wi-fi and radio capabilities.

    And in regards to apple making great products…why are all my friends who have iBooks having to repair them 6 months down the road after newly purchasing them? Doesn’t it seem strange that there are so many referbished ones available for sale?

  • While I will agree with you in that the masses tend to blindly flock to the offerings of Apple (I say this as an iBook and 30 gig iPod owner), I strongly disagree with your repeated blanket statements that these items are useless. Your criteria for a good tech product is, apparently that you would find it useful on a personal level. You fail greatly when it comes to objectively reviewing the products. Apple makes great devices. Also: mobile internet on most PDAs or smartphones is bullshit. It isn’t true internet and you know that.

    So take your anarchist, anti-American speech elsewhere. You’re not welcome here, commie.

  • I don’t completely buy your argument about 160GB being too much for anyone. Remember that you don’t have to just store music on this thing. You can store videos and any sort of computer data. Having a larger storage capacity means that you can store all of your music on there and still have plenty of space left for a few videos and backup storage from your PC.

    As for using the WiFi. I don’t own an internet capable phone. I don’t like having to have a mobile contract given that I hardly spend £3 a month on mobile calls with my pre-pay. Why would I want to be tied into an expensive contract to use mobile Internet. I’m a computer programmer by profession and a technology/gadget fan but I still don’t see there being much online that’s really that important it can’t wait until I get home/into work. So having WiFi and a basic browser on my iPod would probably be sufficient for the odd occasion that I actually want to access the web on the move.

    I basically agree with what you’re saying that it’s weird how some people want to always upgrade to the new Apple gadget but I say let them. Don’t upgrade if you don’t want to and let the gullible masses do as they choose. Let it go. Some of the new features will be useful to people who don’t like to carry lots of gadgets/don’t own the latest mobiles/pdas whatever. Just because it’s not useful to you doesn’t mean it won’t be useful to anyone.

  • I am tempted by the iPod Touch, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I have a first-gen 4GB silver iPod Mini, which does me fine, but I like the idea of being able to use Safari, watch vids, and have music, in one slim device.

    Sure I could do the same but my current mobile phone is only good for making calls and a bit of texting – web surfing? Expensive and fiddly. So long as I can find a Wi-Fi hotspot (lots of Starbucks coffee coming, I can feel it) this will do me fine.

    Will I get one? Erm, maybe. But then it would be more productive of me to get the next version of OS X when it comes out in October, and those two events are too close together for a poor writer!

  • I couldn’t agree more with this post. My explanation for it is, people like to buy ‘sexy and cool’ things and use ‘features’ or ‘memory space’ as excuses to trade up to the next step of hotness with which they can impress everyone around them. 🙂

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