A thought on iPods, 2008

Jesper wrote the definitive prediction list for what Apple might reveal in this year’s iPod lineup refresh, but I just wanted to make a comment or two to see how badly I’m wrong when the announcements are actually made.

Firstly, I believe that if solid state drives were large enough, Apple would have no problem retiring the iPod classic. Not that it doesn’t have advantages over the iPod touch (“blind” operation, first and foremost), the iPod touch is a much better device in the scheme of things.

However, while it’s possible the iPod touch could reach 64GB this year, I still don’t think that’s big enough to drop the 160GB iPod classic. Next year, though, definitely.

Jesper raised a possibility I hadn’t considered: the iPod shuffle could be retired in favour of the iPod nano. (Not the iPod nona, which still has strong support in the Mediterranean community.) Considering you can buy 4GB flash drives for less than $30 these days, it’s probably going to happen sooner rather than later. I think the timing is a shade too early to completely drop the iPod shuffle entirely, and this is a change that will be happening next year, not this.

If a new product was going to be announced, I’d peg money on a re-designed iPod nano that has a similar form factor the iPod touch but much smaller. That is, an approximately 16/9 ratio device with a screen on one side and a button or two on the edges. Removing the scroll wheel allows for a large screen without really increasing the size of the whole device. And I think the screen would be just large enough to accept a limited range of input behaviour.

But really, I don’t think that’s going to happen (I can imagine an iPhone nano product sooner than this one); my predictions for this year are lack-lustre: no new products, very big de-emphasis on the iPods shuffle and classic; bumps on specs and price drops across the line for the iPods nano and touch. Hopefully bigger announcements regarding software and services. It’s about time for a bit of a refresh of the iTunes store, methinks. I could dream about a re-designed iTunes itself, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.