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iPod Video Dissection

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the always-spare-parts-when-you-put-it-back-together dept.

83

alaswhatever writes "HowStuffWorks has gutted an iPod Video and taken pictures of everything.The article talks about exactly what's inside and explains how the touch-sensitive Click Wheel works." From the article: "Although the iPod is an Apple product, it works with both Mac and Windows machines. Since it's the top-selling media player in the United States, probably the big question is: What makes it different from any other digital media player?"

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The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (3, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909555)

I've looked at numerous MP3 players, including my t809 cell phone and a multitude of PDAs I've used over the years. The iPod has a decent interface, but I feel it is lacking for me as I have a huge volume of music and the iPod doesn't give me a very quick way to access various songs on-the-fly. I'd love to see a manufacturer come out with a new way to navigate very quickly -- AI like. I'm thinking we a need invention: something like what T9 did to SMS messaging.

Of all the MP3 players, I've seen numerous ones that I liked, but the iPod won out mostly because the dame of the house prefers the interface. She has two.

The three reasons for the iPod rule, from what I've been able to deciper, are:

1. Marketing -- massive marketing
2. De-geeked interface (including copying songs)
3. Marketing

There has not been a bigger marketing campaign of any device, and in the long run I think it is marketing that helps to win the battle when everything else is equal. Yes, the de-geeked factor was a big reason for success with the girlfriends, parents and even grandparents, but I don't think it is the main reason for success.

Apple took huge risks to earn this reward, but that's how business is: those who risk the most earn the most rewards, if they earn at all.

Side note: Has it really been over 10 years since I first downloaded an MP3?

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (4, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909593)

...and the iPod doesn't give me a very quick way to access various songs on-the-fly.

I have the exact opposite opinion. The iPod acceleration works quite well. It takes a second or two of frantic spinning to get it going, but once it does, I usually end up hitting the end of the list in no time.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

plumby (179557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910823)

I usually end up hitting the end of the list in no time

And so do I, which is usually quite annoying as I'm rarely after the last artist in my library. While I think the iPod has got closer to handling large libraries than any other MP3 player that I've used, but it's still far from ideal.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14913608)

Short of something like audible commands (like voice dialing on some phones), the best solution I've come up with is to use playlists as shortcuts to certain artists I like and want to play frequently. It would be great to have a voice interface, though. Imagine (for example) just saying, "Pantera", "Great Southern Trendkill", and have it play that.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (3, Informative)

mr-mafoo (891779) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909616)

Well there is always the roll your own UI. Rockbox has a very customisable GUI, I haven't used it but my cousin has been raving about it on his iRiver. They have a beta for the iPod going - although you have to get it from the CVS iirc. http://www.rockbox.org/ [rockbox.org] then there is iPod linux, and ones own coding skillz.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909760)

I love it when Apple-zealotry meets Linux-zealotry.

You get a faggish hardware adn flaky, half-working software.

Great.

Now go stroke your cock and dribble your semen on a picture of Steve "Rim" Jobs.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911678)

And with Windows you get ... dab sepllnig?

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (2, Interesting)

timster (32400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909734)

As an experiment, I timed myself picking out an arbitrary specific song on my iPod from the "Songs" list. It turned out to be song 458 out of 775 and I reached it within 12 seconds (from the top-level menu, so I'd say I spent about 10 seconds looking for it in the list). Scrolling from the top of that list of 775 to the bottom takes about three seconds. I don't scroll this way very often, as I prefer to play by album or playlist, so I would probably be better at it with practice.

By comparison, typing "something" on my cell phone's predictive text input takes about three seconds (and I use that particular feature all the time).

I'm not saying that you're right or not, I'm just wondering if we can bring facts into the question of whether the iPod provides a quick way to get to songs. I feel that most people don't look for a song this way so often, and that it would be a mistake to design around it. Personally, what I appreciate about the iPod's interface is how easily I can express "give me a mix of band X and band Y" and similar things. That takes me more like 30 seconds, but I'm glad for the expressive power.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909778)

I agree -- the iPod interface is way better than anything else out there now. I still feel there is room for improvement, unfortunately I have no idea what that improvement would be or how to go about inventing it. If I did, I'd be very wealthy :)

I've been thinking about the iPod interface for weeks now, trying to think of interesting ways to get from A to B to X to Y faster. No solution has come to me yet, but serendipity is an amazing thing.

Will someone come out with a better interface? I have no idea. It might just be Apple, it could be Google, it could be some kid in garage, it might never happen. Maybe I'm spinning why wheels "complaining" about something that millions like. I just happen to be one of those people who can tell when something needs improvement, I guess.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909936)

Well, the only thing I can think of is that on the 5G iPods, if a song is already playing, the framerate for the song browser decreases significantly, which is kinda annoying. This wasn't the case on the 3G iPod that I used to have. I'm probably one of the few people who doesn't work by playlists, since I don't know what I want to listen to until about 30 seconds before I play it. And I have an over 400 CD collection, which makes it worse. Still, I have to admit, it's pretty incredible how fast I can get to what I want to hear, considering those things.

But I am with you on the fact that there HAS to be improvement. Unfortunately, I think Apple's route will be more along the lines of the iPod deciding what you want to listen to for you, which I don't want. Only *I* know what I want to hear, and I'm very picky about playing exactly what I want to hear, which is why I don't use playlists.

Let's not forget, though, the touch wheel is based off of jog wheels from video editting bays, of which I use all the time at work. I think this was a VERY slick decision, since this is a method that has been already used for years in choosing specific frames of video quickly. It requires no "pick-up and move" repositioning of the thumb or any fingers (like with a scroll wheel), and requires no constant pressure, so it is very ergonomic and just "feels" good to use.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910101)

"Only *I* know what I want to hear, and I'm very picky about playing exactly what I want to hear, which is why I don't use playlists."

Yeah....the playlist is a strange paradigm to me too...I ran into it the first time when trying to use iTunes to carry some songs to a vacation in MX. The search did seem to revolve around assuming you had playlists set up.

I have most all my collection on a linux box 'media box', all ripped to flac. I usually just drag and drop songs at will say, in the morning on a weekend...what I feel like listening to for the day...and let it go, but, that is just based on how I feel at that moment. I've not given 'thought' to arranging songs...other than maybe playing a whole album through.

I guess I could think about it...like the old days of making a mixed music cassette tape...trying to get a 'flow' to the songs.

I've not gotten an iPod yet, but, am about to...I'm kind of holding out thinking that new ones may be released just around the corner. I'm hearing rumours that they may have a whole lcd front interface...with a virtual click wheel....thinking maybe I need to wait and see if that comes out soon...

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912203)

Sounds like what you do every morning is set up a playlist.

Try this when you get an iPod: sit down in the morning, use iTunes to drag some songs to a playlist (say, Today's Songs), synch with your iPod (only takes a second for a new/modified playlist) and away you go... your playlist for today.

I actually didn't use playlists at all for a long time because the genre selection was fine. Now I use smart playlists to give me selections that contain multiple genres, like instrumental and vocal.

Did you read my post? (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14996230)

This is exactly why I said this was not an option for me.

I don't know what I want to listen to until about 30 seconds before I play it.

30 seconds: the song right before it. By that I meant that my "playlist" for the day is adaptive, on the spot. It doesn't matter if I setup a playlist of songs 10 seconds before I start it playing, then the second song on the list will be wrong. I mean, this is an exaduration, but I'm trying to make a point. I don't wake up thinking, "What kind of music do I want to listen today?" I usually want to listen to a variety of things, very particular things, many times that I don't listen to on a regular basis. Thankfully, the average length of a track I listen to is about 10 minutes, so I don't have to do a lot of switching, and many times I listen to whole albums anyway. And the iPod is very easy to access by artist/album/track, which works pretty well. But see, you're system just doesn't work for me.

Re:Did you read my post? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14996284)

I didn't say you have to listen to the playlist from start to end, in order!

You said you sit down in the morning, grab some songs for the day, then go? Right? That's a playlist. I never EVER listen to anything in order. Always random, hit the skip button if I don't like what popped up. As you say, the iPod makes it easy to scroll to a particular song if you don't like my skip method.

I suggested the playlist because that's what you seemed to be doing -- paring down your massive collection into something more manageable for the day.

New iPods on Tuesday! (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14913640)

Uh, note that I didn't say next Tuesday. =) But most likely on some Tuesday, some time in the future.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

darien (180561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14914816)

Let's not forget, though, the touch wheel is based off of jog wheels from video editing bays

Absolutely right - and yet I understand that somehow Apple was allowed to patent it. So now no other company can incrementally improve on the interface in the way Apple originally did. It's a damn shame - my Zen Sleek, for example, was obviously designed by someone who understood the problem of navigating long lists, because it gives you the ability to jump to a particular letter in a list of tracks/artists/whatever, or to filter lists with a substring search. If this were coupled with the speed and precision of a jog-wheel, I'd say the problem was solved there and then. But of course it doesn't have a wheel - it can't - and so, even though it has this sort of versatility, it's still fiddly to find what you want.

Apple, meanwhile, seem entirely uninterested in addressing the 'long list' problem. They've got a monopoly on the jog-wheel, which is very simple and intuitive, and that's enough to make the iPod the most accessible mp3 player available. And I guess they think that's good enough.

Sorry, but it just annoys me. Apple did very well to identify the jog-wheel as the ideal interface for this type of device, and they deserved the lead it initially gave them in the market. But it was hardly a technological breakthrough, and I really don't see why their 'discovery' of it should give them a monopoly on usability.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910319)

A to B to X to Y faster.

Vertical List Wrap.

Of course the cursor should go all the way to the top of the list before it wraps, and all the way to the bottom before it wraps the other way. And it should require two 'click-units' to jump from top to bottom or vice-versa.

Patent Me.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

darien (180561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14914844)

Alas, probably not patent you, as the Creative Zen already does precisely this, right down to the 'two click-units' bit. Sorry!

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910399)

I still feel there is room for improvement, unfortunately I have no idea what that improvement would be or how to go about inventing it.

Don't worry, once somebody comes up with a way, everybody will tell you how obvious the solution is ;-)

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912169)

I'd prefer my iPod not come with a keyboard, thanks. I think most people would as well. The normal user (including me) probably looks for a specific song maybe once in a blue moon. The iPod does give you the ability to look for things by type (podcast, music, book, etc.) genre, playlist, artist, song title, etc. The cascaded menus are great for that. Usually I go to a specific type (podcast or movie) and look for a particular item or a genre or playlist and hit play.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14913482)

Well, I typed this entire sentence in about three seconds. People argue with me about this all the time, but I maintain that the efficiency of operation is directly proportional to the number of buttons you can readily use, assuming the interface is otherwise straightforward. "Apple is God," they cry, "their products don't NEED buttons." Humbug.

It would help if MP3 enabled phones -- as in: storage of several GB of MP3s, not merely enough room to store a 20 second clip at 8kbps -- which would produce quality playback would catch on. I think the US, as usual, will be slow to catch up. For a while we'll enjoy our separate MP3 player, just as we were keen on our separate PDAs. But the rest of the world will integrate, and a few years later perhaps we'll jump on the bandwagon.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (5, Insightful)

defy god (822637) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909739)

i'm confused... when you say de-geeked interface, i get images of "easier to use." isn't that a good thing? the world doesn't doesn't like compiling their own software, using a CLI, or tweaking every single option just to get a merginal speed boost. that's what i think of when i hear geek interface. that's what i see when i look at other MP3 players with "more features." yes, it's great that it can decode mpeg2, divx, ogg vorbis, and [insert latest codec here], but does it achieve its original purpose easily? people buy these MP3 players (it's become generic... MP3 player = digital music player, though MP3 is still the dominant format used) to play their MP3s. if it does it well, then great!

and the iPod does indeed play MP3s well. no, i don't mean just sound quality, but on how people can actually play their music. people can easily browse and navigate their player to find the songs they want. they can easily create playlists with the provided software, iTunes. they can manage their giant music collections,again easily, and load them onto their iPod. from the clickwheel, to the iPod interface, to the syncing software, Apple has been very keen to look at the minute details on what it takes to actually play one's music.

after that, everything else is secondary. now, Apple's made it easy to watch television shows and music videos on the iPod. i really do think that's the approach all these music player companies should take. first, make sure the very basic features are complate, then work on the added stuff. sure, as a geek i'd love more options and more codecs, but please, PLEASE, for the love of [deity], perfect your original function first before trying to add on other fluff.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909825)

You're right, and I'm not disagreeing that the iPod interface isn't the king of the hill right now. I just think there is another interface waiting to be found that might work better, faster, and more intuitively rather than a scroll-list.

I was thinking maybe there is a way to add letters to the scroll wheel -- sort of like T9. If you scroll the wheel, it enters scroll mode. But if your fingers slightly tape the various locations of the letters, it enters a text entry mode -- not T9, per se, but a predictive text entry based 100% on the songs, artists, albums, whatever you already have.

In fact, this is my current "solution" to making the iPod better -- allowing the click wheel to do more than just scroll and "play/pause/fast forward." One click left might be next song, but clicking quickly top, top, top-left, top might enter "ACDC" if the timing was right.

I don't have the answer, but I know the question is yet to be answered in the way best suited to both power users and mainstream users.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

JonathanBoyd (644397) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911076)

The trouble with that method is that you're not playing songs in isolation. When you pick a song, you'll have selected it from the song, album, artist, composer or playlist menus normally, which then tells the iPod which other songs to buffer. By the time you've typed in the name of the song and then chosen which context to play it in, you may as well have gone through the usual selection process, especially if the song title is more than a couple of words long.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14913651)

but clicking quickly top, top, top-left, top might enter "ACDC" if the timing was right.

You might also discover the iPod's special attack capability.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (3, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909819)

You forgot one of the reasons for the iPod's rule:
Perfect form factor.

Prior to the iPod you had CD sized large capacity MP3 players, or iPod sized low capacity flash players. The iPod bridged that gap quite nicely by providing high density small size players.

Now EVERYONE has a deck of cards sized MP3 player with touch pad and screen. Before the iPod it was a mess of buttons and UI elements.

So the top three, in order of history:
1) Perfect form factor
2) De-geeked interface
3) Marketing

You can't after all, market crap. There has to be something marketable in the first place.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910173)

Daikatana.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910226)

"You can't after all, market crap". Are you not leaving yourself wide open for the Apple fanbois to chirp in with some sort of anti-Microsoft remark?

Thanks, you did it for us. (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14913658)

Now we fan boys* needn't chirp.

*I prefer the English spelling rather than the French one.

Re:Thanks, you did it for us. (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14914304)

Hello, fan boy here, I was making a joke.

Apple - Always Late, Always Cautious (2, Informative)

meehawl (73285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909917)

Apple took huge risks to earn this reward, but that's how business is: those who risk the most earn the most rewards, if they earn at all.

Actually, Apple has always been a few years behind the curve when it comes to mp3 players - unwilling to jump into a new market but instead preferrig to wait for others to prove its viability and take the legal flak.

Saehan's 1998 MPMan F10 [wikipedia.org] - the world's first flash memory mp3 player.

Diamond's 1998 Rio PMP300 [wikipedia.org] - first major US company taken to court by the RIAA for providing mp3 hardware.

Compaq's 1999 Personal Jukebox [wikipedia.org] - 1st hard-drive based mp3 player.

Archos's 2002 Multimedia Jukebox [wikipedia.org] - first portable video/photo player and recorder.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910030)

How come you say the dame of the house has two in this post, but in your last post, you said the lady of the house has two???
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=179825&cid=1 4890910

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910105)

ha! ok, i'm not the only one who noticed the striking similarity of the posts then.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912036)

I think he's perfected his anarcho capitalist troll, and he's decided it's time to practice with different bait.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

miller701 (525024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910188)

Maybe she was knighted?

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910303)

Both words (dame and lady) are part of my vernacular and also words I'd like to see more in the common vocabulary of tomorrow. I also use the term "broad" (which she prefers actually), but I usually get flogged for it here and elsewhere, although I have noticed more people using the term.

I remember using the word "crony" either here or another forum years back and some people in other parts of the country had no idea what that meant. Looking it up in the dictionary showed me it was usually a Midwest term (Chicago), but now it seems everyone knows the word -- and I used it for years with people saying it wasn't really a word.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (2, Interesting)

mcsnee (103033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910094)

I'd say the integrated iTunes Music Store played a big role, too... the iTunes software is about a times easier to use than the garbage put out by, e.g., Creative Labs, and I can buy a song on the Music Store and be listening to it on my iPod in under a minute all with the same piece of software.

Whether you include that under the heading of "marketing" I don't know, but that was one of the big selling points of the iPod for me after dealing with a Creative Jukebox and then an RCA Lyra and their attendant shortcomings.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (2, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910316)

Very true. Heck, my minidisc player was exactly what I need as far as navigation and capacity went (four CDs worth of music is more than my typical playlist, though it can become problematic for those longer trips in the car of whatever), and a good 50 hours of tunes on a single AA battery. What ruined it? That utterly craptastic NetMD software. Oh the horrors. Like, almost up there with Windows ME. Maybe even worse, considering I never had ME installed on one of my computers.

And when I first got my iPod, I avoided iTunes at all costs. I bought Anapod Explorer but that eventually got a bit tiresome and I moved into the Winamp plugin. Easy enough to deal with, but no support for pics or videos. There's a good chance I tried something else in there too, but I forget if I did or not. I finally did move to iTunes... and I think it's had about the same uptime as my computer since Thanksgiving '05. Why? Once I got all my music added - admittedly a huge PITA (Japanese imports and the like don't CDDB particularly well), I could easily navigate and it integrates perfectly and seamlessly with the iPod. I plug it in, it syncs. I leave it plugged in, it keeps charging. That's all there is to it. Oh yeah... CD burning and ripping is also seamless. Put in CD, click one button, it rips it. Put in blank, choose a playlist, click burn, confirm, wait three minutes, done.

Does it have downsides? Of course. No lossless support except Apple's, music is still overpriced IMO, some of the "extra" things only work with MS software (no using T-bird with it... Outlook only), etc. But it's simple, elegant, and it integrates everything you really need into one place. I used to like my old approach of ripping with FreeRipMP3 then manually tagging it and then putting it in a directory that I'd remember then enqueing it in a Winamp playlist (this is, of course, before Winamp had ripping support). Then I realized there was software specifically intended to do all of that and then put it into a library which integrates seamlessly with the device I was using. How delightful.

Just throw this out there... is there any free (legal) software other than iTunes that has unlimited ripping and burning support? Winamp's ripping is limited unless you pay as is all the other software I've tried. That or it's full of adware and other crap. While I try to avoid using the music store, it is extremely easy to do, and again integrates extremely well. Searching through your library is a breeze since it does that ultra-fast-Apple-search thing, which makes creating a playlist very easy (we all know that making playlists on the iPod itself is a pain, but it's really easy in iTunes and I think that's more of how you're meant to do it).

So basically, for me, it ended up coming down to the software and UI. I should have known better than to buy something by Sony, but until it's software almost drove me to running the thing over with a steamroller, I loved the player. Had Apple made iTunes' default behavior some sort of "My music is here" thing upon starting (defaulting to the normal My Music folder for simplicity of most users), I'd have had to deal with so much less annoying junk before finally switching. Oh well.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912257)

Yeah, UI for me. Not just iPod UI, but iTunes too. My father tried a bunch of non-iPod mp3 players and hated them all because they were difficult to get music onto. I bought him a mini for his birthday and he loves it. iTunes is easy to use, you hook up your iPod, wait a short time and you're done.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

courtarro (786894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912311)

"Just throw this out there... is there any free (legal) software other than iTunes that has unlimited ripping and burning support?"

While it lacks a little bit in user-friendliness with regard to setup, Exact Audio Copy [exactaudiocopy.de] (EAC) is by far my favorite ripping software. You just throw in a recent LAME dll [free-codecs.com] and rip with ease. It also claims to handle burning, though I've never tried that feature. The best selling point of EAC is its slow but extremely reliable "secure copy" mode, which reads the disc "very carefully" (my words) in order to make absolutely sure there are no glitches. I can't remember the last time it made a bad mp3.

Minor sticking point, though, is that it doesn't seem to handle the Japanese stuff very well either ... "??????" it says :)

I stick to the old Winamp ml_ipod plugin for my iPod management, since my iPod can't do photos or video. I prefer it to iTunes partially because I prefer Winamp for my listening experience, and partially because it gives me more flexibility to define what to sync and other transfers.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#14913106)

Fair point, however iTunes gives you the same pick-your-playlist syncing (or whatever), and has the LAME encoder built in as well (it's there, no adding it in yourself). I've never had a bad MP3 file either using any ripper I've ever used, so I'd put that down as a null point (unless you have insanely scratched CDs it should never be a problem; I don't). Don't get me wrong, I used to hate iTunes with a passion, but once I gave it a chance it's easy UI and integration is, IMO, second to none. The Japanese tracks are more an issue specific to the music and the database, not the software. I used to prefer Winamp for everything as well (and still use it, but just for videos mostly).

Think of it this way. I'm a geek. I like powerful options. But I use Windows. Why? It's so much easier. I've used Linux, but I can't stand needing to drop to the command line for every little task, and abysmally poor driver and software support (which isn't it's fault, but that doesn't make it less of a problem). If there's one of those rare tasks that just can't be done in Windows, I've got live CDs I can use. While using six different programs may give me a bit more flexibility, I much prefer losing that small degree of flexibility to a usability increase on the order of a magnitude. What iTunes lacks in a visualizer plugin is outweighed by a media library that's just easier to navigate. I dunno why, they're exactly the same genre/artist/album quickfind setup, maybe it's all the extra useless shit that Winamp throws in there that cannot be removed - I don't use party shuffle in iTunes, so I turn it off. No luck with the streaming radio and AOL ShoutCast in Winamp's ML (or finding the thing again after it dissapeared off my screen...). Maybe it's just that I like having a playlist 133.7MB in size.

BS. Actually there are 6 reasons.Its not marketing (2, Informative)

acomj (20611) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910103)


You can fool some people with marketing but not everyone multiple times. The fact is the ipod works amazingly well. Is it perfect? No. But I think its the best out there and I'd buy another one if this one dies (its 2 years old, and running gread (knock on wood).

David pouge has 6 reasons in His NYTimes article...

In fact, at least six factors make the iPod such a hit: cool-looking hardware; a fun-to-use, variable-speed scroll wheel; an ultrasimple software menu; effortless song synchronization with Mac or Windows; seamless, rock-solid integration with an online music store (iTunes); and a universe of accessories. Mess up any aspect of the formula, and your iPod killer is doomed to market-share crumbs.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/09/technology/circu its/09pogue.html [nytimes.com]

Re: Marketing only goes so far (3, Insightful)

Thrudheim (910314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910299)

Critics of the iPod consistently cite marketing as the number one reason for its success. Granted, Apple is very good at marketing, and iPod ads are all over the place, but if it is mostly marketing then why can't anyone else hire equally good ad agencies and grab a big chunk of market share?

The most important factor is that no one else has the whole system (player, software, music store) working as seamlessly as Apple does. Apple has also been aggressive at bringing integration of things like podcasts and, now, video. It works well, and that leads to satified customers, who then become effective marketers for the device. So, yes, people see iPod ads, but endorsements from friends are far more influential.

I remember two years ago reading commentary by some "technology analyst" who argued that Apple's share of the mp3 player market would soon be about the same percentage as its share of the computer market. Wish I could still find the article; it would be fun to see again. Instead, Apple has only increased its market share since then. There have been plenty of opportunities for competitors to use marketing, and larger distribution channels, to stop this from happening. It is not Apple's marketing, for instance, that made Sony completely inept at producing a competitive product. Likewise, Dell did not turn its prowess at low-margin mass-production into making an mp3 powerhouse. Walmart did not, as some predicted, turn its music download store into a dominant player. There is more to all this than marketing.

How many iPod killers have we seen? None of them know how to run an advertising campaign?

Re: Marketing only goes so far (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911593)

Another factor is "buy in", because once you've bought into the pod and iTMS, changing systems is a major PITA. Get a pod, get some music, get a bigger pod, get more music. Endless cycle. So once you've been pod'ed, you tend to stay pod'ed.

Re: Marketing only goes so far (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14920427)

That doesn't explain why most new purchasers of mp3 players choose iPods.

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (2, Insightful)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910360)

Considering the marketing effort Apple puts into most its products, I'd say the reasons Apple is dominating the mp3 player market are: interface, interface, aesthetics (including size), interface, the fact that it's entering a new market (as opposed to its computer section) and interface*

* Yeah and a bit of marketing

Re:The 3 reasons for the iPod's rule (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14913225)

I think some sort of search function would be nice though might be hard to do without being slow to enter (scroll-click, scroll-click, scroll-click, etc.) for most audio players, or adding a number pad for T9-like stuff and I think that's a pain too. I think you may be better off making sure your tagging is correct and look it up by artist and album name, or setting up new playlists. Setting up smart playlists has a lot of merits too. I set a few by number of play counts or unlistened within the last certain time frame so I am less likely to have tracks that I haven't listened to.

FOSS Means Business, Belfast, Thursday March 16th (3, Informative)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909657)

As usual, wikipedia has a great article about the iPod [wikipedia.org] (and of course it has less adds than TFA.

Re:FOSS Means Business, Belfast, Thursday March 16 (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912537)

They also have a great article on karma whoring [wikipedia.org] .

FOSS MEANS BUSINESS, Belfast, Thursday March 16 (1)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912673)

And don't forget the one on free software licences [wikipedia.org] . I agree, Wikipedia is great.

Lvl 60 Mobs (1)

richdun (672214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912962)

Yeah, TFA is a noob trap with all those adds. Need at least 3 lvl 60 mages and maybe 2 tanks to take care of them.

error in the first sentence (1)

illtron (722358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909807)

There's an error in the first sentence of the How Stuff Works article. The first iPod had only a 5 gigabyte hard drive. I'll report on subsequent errors as I find them. Thank me later.

Re:error in the first sentence (1)

illtron (722358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909831)

Millions of people are so hooked on the iPod, they continue to buy it and its coordinating Apple products despite quick battery death and difficult repairs.


That's a bit of a loaded statement. I don't see how it's really relevant to an article about how the iPod works. Is How Stuff Works by any chance owned by Sim Wong Hoo?

Re:error in the first sentence (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910602)

Where is the error? The article says "In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod, an MP3 player with the unheard-of storage capacity of 5 gigabytes."

The first iPod did, indeed, have a 5 GB hard drive [wikipedia.org] . I fail to see the error. The 'first generation' iPod later increased in capacity to 10 GB, but it was introduced solely at 5 GB.

Re:error in the first sentence (1)

illtron (722358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14913008)

Then they updated the article. It previously said that it had a 20 gig HD. You fail to see the error because they fixed it.

Re:error in the first sentence (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14922136)

That would have been an error, then. Odd, I thought I got to the article early. I guess not early enough.

Sum of Parts (2, Interesting)

necro81 (917438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909847)

If they are asking the question about the iPod's dominance, they are probably looking in the wrong place by dissecting it. Sure, the iPod's appealing form factor and capabilities are determined by its components, but I think everyone here would agree that it takes far more than that to make a winning product. Just think of all the other awesome products out there, with great form factor and a nice feature list, that failed utterly.

Re:Sum of Parts (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14913460)

You can learn a few things by taking apart an iPod. Compare, for example with a Creative Vision:M
http://www.anythingbutipod.com/archives/2006/02/ho w-to-disassemble-the-creative-zen-vision-m.php [anythingbutipod.com]
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/ipod3.htm [howstuffworks.com]

You will notice, for one thing, that the iPod's PCB is about half the size of the Vision's; this corresponds to the size of the mp3 player, and battery life. 1250mAH for the Vision and 700mAH for the iPod, and they both rate at 14 hours. The size of the mp3 player speaks about the engineering effort placed into designing the components.

Then the size of the batteries tell you about the efficiency of the MP3 player, since they both rate at 14hrs, while one is nearly twice as large.

It is also telling that the Vision:M was released AFTER the iPod with Video; so in that sense the Vision:M is a couple generations behind because isn't as power thrifty, nor as compact. Apple has steadily been making their devices both more power efficient and smaller.

Re:Sum of Parts (1)

darien (180561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14914915)

Does any of that actually matter? I don't particularly care about the size of the motherboard inside the thing, I just want to know that it does what I want.

(In fact, I suspect the Vision M's motherboard is bigger and draws more power simply because it does a lot more than the iPod - it supports a much wider range of video and audio codecs, and can output at four times the resolution in four times as more colours.

Re:Sum of Parts (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14915467)

Of course it doesn't matter. If you choose not to care about details, then all that matters is outcome.

All I'm implying is that you might be able to glean some of the reasons for the iPod's success despite worthy competitors such as the Vision by it's physical design and engineering:

1) Smaller components (such as motherboard and battery)
2) Higher efficiency (same battery life, but smaller battery)
3) Better layout (smaller form factor because of smaller components)

Those just hint at the physical and philosophical differences between the iPod and Vision:M.

There is more of course, but these differences also suggest the differences we see in the software and UI, which for Creative, like their music players, has steadily improved without actually surpassing the iPod, while the iPod's software and UI has been more or less the same since it's inception in 2001. It's now 2006, so it's take Creative about 5 years to 'catch up' in both physical design, UI, and software design, and these pictures still show that Creative is slightly behind, in terms of density, efficiency, and layout.

My Take (1, Insightful)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909876)

I have an iPod - I admit it, im a fashion victim.

Actually there were some other reasons. Id bought cheaper mp3 players in the past , the build quality was terrible knackered after not very long. I decided that buying a cheap one was a false economy. I'd seen my brothers and the iPod seemed much better built and bigger capacity. The other reason was this click wheel thing everyone was raving about. Now i'll agree that it does to a certain extent make navigation easier - but the click-wheel could be so much better with the right software to drive it.

I think that the Click wheel needs to be able to do more stuff. I have many thousands of tunes, albums and artists on my iPod. To be quite frank sometimes i have to go round on the click wheel hundreds of times before i can find the tune i am looking for. In my opinion that is not the best interface in the world.

One thing i would change about the iPod is to get rid of the annoying dependancy on iTunes. Why in hell can't i just drag and drop a file onto the thing ala mass-storage device? and vice-versa?

The other thing is that id really like the iPod to have the ability to look for tunes beginning with a specific letter. It would be nice for example if i could click a button and it paged down to the next letter of the alphabet (simple things like this would make the user experience so much nicer). I also think there should be a better, more interactive way of creating play-lists on the move.

Just because the iPod has this cool thing called a "Click Wheel" , it doesnt neccesarily mean that the "Click Wheel" is a good thing no matter how geeky it is. I'd buy a different mp3 player at the drop of the hat if it could sift through my vast collection of music quicker than my iPod can.

Nick...

Re:My Take (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909999)

One thing i would change about the iPod is to get rid of the annoying dependancy on iTunes. Why in hell can't i just drag and drop a file onto the thing ala mass-storage device? and vice-versa?

Because of the way the iPod works: it keeps track of the songs in a local database that iTunes writes the song info to. The only MP3 player I've owned is an iPod, so I don't get the obsession with treating it like some portable version of WinAmp.

Re:My Take (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910081)

Why in hell can't i just drag and drop a file onto the thing ala mass-storage device? and vice-versa?

It's called Vendor lock-in [wikipedia.org] . Leading companies (and Apple in particular) loves to use it as a weapon to tie up the market. A perfectly good reason to choose something else until Apple stops the practice. History has shown that customers don't care about being locked to a particular company though, look at MS.

Re:My Take (3, Informative)

lyonsden (543685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910166)

The other thing is that id really like the iPod to have the ability to look for tunes beginning with a specific letter.

You are in luck! You can do that very thing easily using smart playlists.

  1. Create a smart playlist for each letter you are interested in (up to 26)
  2. Sync it to your iPod
  3. Listen to your music the way you want to listen to your music.

Any questions?

Re:My Take (1)

jeffehobbs (419930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912003)


Any questions?

(raises hand)

What if my letter appears in some place other than the first position? For instance, "Beck" would show up in Smart Playlists that contain "B", "E", "C", and "K" -- not just under "B". Speaking of, have you ever noticed if you write the word "BECK" on an index card, turn it upside down, and look at it in a mirror, it will say: "BECK"? You have not? OK.

~jeff

Re:My Take (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912120)

but, if instead of 'contains', you used the inclulded 'starts with' feature . . .

Re:My Take (1)

tlacuache (768218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910831)

One thing i would change about the iPod is to get rid of the annoying dependancy on iTunes.
I've got an iPod, and I don't use iTunes. There are other alternatives, including EphPhod [ephpod.com] and gtkpod [sourceforge.net] (my personal favorite) which work very well. I send my own gripped, DRM-free mp3 files to my iPod with gtkpod and am able to enjoy my device without the iTunes apron-strings (DRM, Windows, etc.).

I don't like the click wheel. (2, Informative)

oedneil (871555) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910034)

My 20gb Rio Karma has a variable-scroll thumb wheel. It's more natural to use, and in a more ergonomic position than the click wheel. The player might not be as cute or trendy as an iPod, but I find the interface more intuitive than the iPod's.

Okay, the software sucks, which is why I wouldn't recommend it to any of my friends. But what other MP3 player has an ethernet port for network uploads!

Re:I don't like the click wheel. (1)

WatcherXP (658784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910786)

Amen Brother!!

LOVE the Rio Karma's navation system.

Re:I don't like the click wheel. (2, Funny)

badmammajamma (171260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910814)

Careful...don't ever say anything good about the Karma. Some iPod user (who of course use to use a karma) will come out and say how the harddrive in the player didn't work right and they almost always say how it took at least 2 replacements before it was resolved. Oh, and the little red knob would fall off.

Oh, and how dare you say the karma wheel interface was better! Blasphemy! Frankly, I'm stunned you haven't been properly chastised yet. Lord knows it happens to me whenever I make the mistake of bringing it up.

Re:I don't like the click wheel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14914411)

Why the karma sucks:

So you can hold the iPod even more firmly than the Karma, and still use it. Which leads to the big difference between the scroll knob and the scroll wheel, when they're used in their intended positions: You can keep scrolling continuously with the scroll wheel, while you have to stop, lift your thumb, and place it down again to continue scrolling on the scroll knob. That action gets old when you have two dozen playlists to scroll though, and the repeated repositioning of the thumb tends to make the hand rattle the device and make the screen hard to read.

Succinctly put. Reference [slashdot.org] . iPod is ok. Karma is worse. Read your history. Apparently you just don't get it.

Re:I don't like the click wheel. (1)

badmammajamma (171260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14922317)

I actually own a karma, so fuck off. My hand never "rattles". Are you a fucking skeleton? They designed for people with muscles and skin. And scrolling with the wheel never made the screen hard to read. If you're not a skeleton, I can only assume that either a) you've never actually used a karma, or b) you're just an idiot and don't know what you're doing. Of course, a AND b is another valid option.

Re:I don't like the click wheel. (1)

txmadman (538415) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912282)

I am thirlled with my Karma. It saddens me to see that the thing doesn't get the support of other brands. I actually am on my second: I left the first on an airplane and some sh!tbag decided to keep it for him/herself, rather than doing the civilized thing and notifying the lost/found.

Anyway...I like the click-wheel (thought I wish the software would let me run 'around the horn'. My son has an iPod mini, and I guess I just can't get on board with the lack of tactile feedback. Just me, I suppose, because I know there are 20 million folks who are totally fine with it.

I also like the network support, the included RCA connection dock, and the totally eye-candy blue-light thing.

Re:I don't like the click wheel. (1)

garote (682822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912446)

The other poster is right - it's quite surprising that you haven't been flamed by iPod junkies for this comment about the scroll knob. The Rio Karma is meant to be held face-up in the palm of the right hand, with the bottom of the thumb pressed against the right side for stability while the top of the thumb is raked back and forth across the scroll knob. There are other ways to hold and use it, but they demand two hands, or are awkward and partially obscure the screen. Most people manipulate an iPod by holding it in right or left hand, resting on the fingers, with the whole thumb on the top over the scroll wheel. This is a slightly less stable position than the Karma is held, which means it's easier to drop, and that's a shame. People who apply a couple brain cells to the issue actually hold it the same way but place their index finger over the iPod, at the top of the display, which combines with the seat of the thumb to hold the iPod very solidly in place, while still giving you full access to the wheel. This wasn't as common in older versions of the iPod because the display was smaller and easier to obscure, but now, there's plenty of room to navigate, while the index finger only covers the "title bar" at the top of the screen.

So you can hold the iPod even more firmly than the Karma, and still use it. Which leads to the big difference between the scroll knob and the scroll wheel, when they're used in their intended positions: You can keep scrolling continuously with the scroll wheel, while you have to stop, lift your thumb, and place it down again to continue scrolling on the scroll knob. That action gets old when you have two dozen playlists to scroll though, and the repeated repositioning of the thumb tends to make the hand rattle the device and make the screen hard to read.

IMO, the best combination of parts that Apple could choose from all their iPod generations would be the 1st gen "mechanical" scroll wheel, combined with the 3rd gen "touch sensitive" row of buttons up apart from the wheel. That way you get tactile feedback on the wheel, and you can spin it and let it go, like you'd spin a roulette wheel - and the buttons are instantaneous, so you can navigate in and out of the submenus and skip tracks very quickly, with a couple of taps.

Re:I don't like the click wheel. (1)

Repugnant_Shit (263651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14937175)

The karma was my first hard disk-based MP3 player. It was really great, but it ended up having the weak headphone connection that plagued the line. The software (for Linux/OSX) was VERY flaky, and the ethernet wouldn't work for me unless I had it in 10Mbps mode (the computer's NIC, that is).

The interface *was* very good, and it was so small. I liked, but upgraded to a more reliable player about 8 months afterward.

What is wrong with you?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910114)

As usual, the article quote has nothing whatsoever to do with the article itself. It gives the wrong impression of how the article goes. On the other hand, there really wasn't a whole lot of stuff from the article that you could quote and make it sound interesting. Why don't people actually summarize it instead of merely quoting it, especially with a misleading quote?

If there is anything i've learned from college... (0, Offtopic)

yassax (416227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910590)

is that howstuffworks does not count as a source when writing a paper.

Great. But video is not working right now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14911117)

For folks with the 1.1 firmware and a 60 Gb iPod, videos for the iPod won't generally won't play. Unless, it's from Apple. See here. [ilounge.com]

The Big Answer (2, Interesting)

nuckin futs (574289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911265)

Since it's the top-selling media player in the United States, probably the big question is: What makes it different from any other digital media player?"

because it's tied to, and works seamlessly with the easiest, most popular online music store in existence. what other company has a complete, one stop shop, all in one solution that works with itunes?

IMO, the big question is: (1)

JDSalinger (911918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14911713)

Why is the slashdot community obsessed with the iPod? No better news or topics of discussion?
Note: I own an iPod shuffle and 4th Gen. 40 GB iPod, but am growing tired of the fruitless perpetuation of iPod talks.
-C

Re:IMO, the big question is: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912813)

simple!
dont RTFA!

iPod's Success is not Marketing Alone (2, Informative)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912592)

I keep reading marketing... marketing... marketing... on reasons why iPod succeeded. There's a lot more to it that slick packaging, good advertising and strategic price/feature positioning:

1) Design: as people like to point out iPod wasn't the first or the most capable device of it's type. It was the most drop-dead easy to use and understand from install to sync to library management.

2) iTunes: solved the real problem with other players: you had to either rip CDs or download pirated music to get any use out of your MP3 player.

3)Focus on customer experience and satisfaction leading to great reputation. While Sony and RCA are busy explaining why their stuff "Works for Sure" people know iPod works because their friends and coworkers will tell them so. iPods are kind of the CrackBerry of music players.

Re:iPod's Success is not Marketing Alone (1)

bingo777 (755632) | more than 8 years ago | (#14914454)

i would say to a great extent marketing. Now almost everyone refers to an mp3 player as an iPod. thats what marketing has done. Just like what sony did to walkman. every other portable cassete player came to be called a walkman. so the not so technically conscious will always refer to the mp3 player as an iPod.
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