Mobile
Commentary
12/17/2010
12:05 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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In An iPhone World, iPods Still Matter

Smartphones have long been able to play music but it took the iPhone to really get people to use their phone as a music player. Do we still need dedicated MP3 players?

Smartphones have long been able to play music but it took the iPhone to really get people to use their phone as a music player. Do we still need dedicated MP3 players?When you initially look at it, you might think since your phone syncs to your iTunes just as effectively as an iPod, you don't need the latter. For some people, that may be true, but I don't think it is true enough for Apple to worry about a shrinking MP3 player market.

I just got a 6th generation iPod Nano after my Zune 8GB's battery started going wonky. I'd be an hour into a two to three hour run and even though it was fully charged when I left, it would die mid-way through my run. Microsoft pretty much abandoned the market for small players when they came out with the Zune HD and discontinued all previous models. The Zune HD is nice, but way too big to carry on your arm for a few hours as you exercise. I decided to convert my library to iTunes and get the new cracker-sized iPod. I love the iPod, but iTunes is a dog. It blows my mind that Apple is responsible for that piece of software, but I digress. The iPod Nano is a fantastic piece of hardware and the software on it isn't too shabby, though it still requires me being more hands on with it than I'd like when I just want to listen to several podcasts in order.

The device is great for active people. You can clip it to your clothes if you want or stick it in your pocket. I just don't see people that are serious about being active using large devices like the Touch or iPhone, or any other phone for that matter. Thankfully Apple recognizes that and continues with the Nano and Shuffle devices. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 has Zune integration in it and while it works beautifully, the phones, like the iPhone, are just too big for some scenarios. Android devices suffer the same problem. While people generally want a small phone, they love those large screens for web browsing and watching videos. The screens are just to big for truly portable music though.

There are more reasons why the iPod isn't going anywhere soon. John Fortt has written an article on three other reasons why the iPod still matters, from the low cost and impulse-buy prone Shuffle to the buying power the iPod has given Apple when it comes to buying flash memory.

Think the iPod's days are numbered or does it have a long life ahead of it?

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