Friday, August 04, 2006

Accommodating iPod?

I've been a fan of mp3 players since god knows when. Way back during the "age of the cassette walkman", I predicted that we'd be listening to "music on a chip" and that we'd all be carrying around these little gadgets about the size of a zippo, and they'd play hours of music. I don't remember exactly when I started having these detailed visions of future technology, all I remember is that a decent "auto-reverse" portable cassette player costed around $50, and CD players were just simply out of reach at over $150! Needless to say, no one believed me about the music on a chip thing. lol. The thing is, I didn't just think it would happen, I "knew", but even more importantly, I saw it was within reach of everyone. These things would be dirt cheap and ubiquitous. And it seems that's how things have turned out, doesn't it?

The more I think about it, the more I realize that things haven't quite turned out the way I predicted. So what went wrong? In a word: iPod. When that thing came out, my very first thought was "what an overpriced piece of junk." I didn't think people would want to pay twice as much for something when they didn't need to! And they're still wasting money on them, now more than ever. On one hand, I ask


but on the other hand, I say

"More power to ya. Thanks for subsidizing my technology bill."

heh. It's true that people who buy iPods are making mp3 technology cheaper for the rest of us, just like people who buy a "$1000 Pentium Extreme Edition" make CPUs cheaper for the rest of us. So thank you, suckerz!

But I am concerned about the market for digital music. I want to focus on iPod and where it's taking the market as a whole. I'm looking at articles saying the auto companies are scrambling to integrate iPod into their audio systems. Good idea? No, it's not. It's a waste of money, just like iPods are a waste of money.
iPod Nanos cost over $200 for a 4GB version. That's way way too overpriced. I think the auto companies don't realize just how far along the technology is. The way to go is USB flash compatibility. Why spend $200 on a stupid iPod when you can buy something for less than $50 and then plug any one of the millions of USB flash drives into it? This solution is so cheap and so versatile that it should eventually drown out the iPod completely.

I paid $35 for a little device that plugs into my car's cigarette lighter and plays mp3s stored on my USB flash drive. All I do is plug the flash drive into it and press play. There's no wires and no batteries to worry about. It's such a slick and easy solution I can only scratch my head at the auto companies who are designing these unbelievably expensive (and complicated) iPod integration schemes. We're talkin hundreds of dollars here! All I can say to the auto companies is I hope you suckers go out of business. Should anyone pay $500 for an mp3 player when they can get one for $30, plus $10 for a cheap usb flash drive? And why don't car stereos have a little slot on the front for a usb flash drive? lol. That would be too practical! Well, what can you expect from the people who brought us SUVs?

Here's a few links to some of these brilliant little gadgets. They're very similar to mine:

I'm predicting that devices like these are ultimately going to win out against overpriced gimmicks like the iPod. I don't even call them "mp3 players", because that name has been somewhat tainted and obfuscated. They're really fundamentally different from your typical iPod-esque mp3 player with it's built in memory and proprietary software. So I call them "USB Flash Players". And the USB flash drives that plug into them... I think of them almost as "cassettes" from back in the old days. You take the "cassette", plug it into your computer's usb port, load some mp3s, and then take that "cassette" full of music and plug it into your flash player, or your cars flash player, or your friend's flash player. See how much more versatile this is compared to iPods? Proprietary iPods are like boat anchors in comparison to this. Even if they get wifi they're still going in the wrong direction. USB flash drives are ubiquitous. There must be 500 million of them out there. You can buy 3 packs of em for 14.99. Seriously. The time has come for the return of modular media. From 8 tracks, to cassettes, to CDs, and now finally to these little usb flash drives. That's the logical progression. iPod doesn't fit into that paradigm does it?


Blogger Max said...

For me the issue is capacity. If I want to listen to a particular Haydn piece at a given moment, I have a better chance of having it with me precisely when I want it if I have 80 gigs versus 4. I don't want to have to decide in the morning before I leave the house if I might possibly want to listen to only Jazz or Classical or some particular subset of my interests that day, OR have to carry around a bag full of 4 gig flash drives as an alternative. With the capacity of a small hard drive I am more likely to be able to satisfy my music desires immediately, whether it be MJQ or Vivaldi or Arctic Monkeys. When someone produces a competitively-priced 80 gig flash player I am willing to make the move. Flash is a more stable storage medium, but it is not as cost-effective yet.

10:49 AM  
Blogger PeaceLove said...

I agree entirely with Max. One of the devices you point to is $30 for 256 megs; you'd need to spend $960 for the same 8 gigs you get with a $250 iPod Nano! And the power of having your entire music collection with you everywhere you go is lost.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Theodore said...

I think max & peacelove are missing something. Since these lighter-socket transmitters (and Iconoclast421's concept for automakers) are based on USB, anything can plug in there, not just a flash drive; any external USB drive will do. For $127, I can get a 320GB USB hard disk drive. Granted, it's a lot bigger and heavier than your Nano, but this is for your car, not your pocket.

2:09 PM  

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