The Apple iPod had been in the market for close to 4 years now. With the iPod, Apple also introduced its iTunes Music Store, now with localized versions in 19 countries, over 1.5 millions tracks, more than 11,000 audiobooks, music videos, movie trailers and a built in Podcast directory in 20 different categories.
Just this week the UK Media Industry Association named Apple's CEO and co-founder, Steve Jobs, the most influential person in the Media industry in the United Kingdom, and went as far as calling him a media mogul.
Back in October 2001, when Apple first introduced the iPod, they had clearly created a product that is superior to anything that was available at the time. Over the years various different manufactures large and small had tried to topple Apple's strangle hold on the "hard drive based" MP3 players and "Flash memory based" MP3 players with a market share of 73% and 30% respectively. These included: Sony, Creative, HP, Dell, to name a few.
Over this past 3 years or so, Apple had continued to improve the iPod that it introduced back in 2001, by making the device smaller with higher capacity, better battery life, introduced color casings in the form of iPod Mini, delivered an amazing colour screen for the iPod Photo, released limited editions like the "U2 Special Edition" (as of 2005), and made the device so small that one can easily compare it to a stick of chewing gum (iPod Shuffle).
In the past few months various analysts and rumor web sites have been focused on the possibility that Apple may introduced a version of their iPod brand that allows the user to play videos.
Steve Jobs had been quoted over and over again in the past 3 years, to say that he does not believe in watching movies on a handheld device. Which I can appreciate and agree to a certain extent.
Yes, watching a motion picture movie like, "Star Wars" on a handheld device, no matter how large its screen would not be the same as watching the same movie in a home theatre of in the cinemas. One definitely would not be mobile while they watch a movie, unlike the habits of the current users of iPod. People who use an iPod will rarely stay put in one location. Majority of them would be walking, jogging, skating, skiing or participate in some sort of physical activity while using the iPod.
The case where I would disagree with Steve Jobs is when we're talking about short videos. Like music videos, TV sitcoms, TV commercials, Movie Trailers, audio skits of any kind which are 15 minutes or less. In these case the entertainment value out weights the quality of video or audio quality of the handheld device on which these videos would be played on.
Having said that I still do not think that there is a true consumer demand for a portable video device that is not one of the current DVD portable players. These latter devices are custom designed for long movie playing (approximately 3 hours, which is just a little longer than the average length of a motion picture).
I think that there are still room for Apple - Steve Jobs, to improve on what they had already launch into the market.
I am sure many people have experienced the same scenarios as I had: 1. Did you ever have a friend who was interested in what you were listening to on your portable music device (Walkman and Discman in the 80's and MD players in the 90's and now your MP3 player; most often an iPod)? 2. Did you ever had a situation where you shared your headset with your friend, with each of you taking one of the headphones to share the music you have on your audio device? While doing so, did you ever had a problem, while sharing your headset, your headphone got ripped out of your ear because the other person sharing your headset made a sudden move?
Well all of the above may be solved by Apple adding wireless technologies (Bluetooth, WiFi, RFID) to the iPod line of MP3 players and some of the existing functionalities of the iTunes application currently available on your computer.
Here is what I imagine the future can be if Apple implements what I suggested above. 1. Your friend who wants to know what you're listening to on your iPod or wants to share the music you have on your iPod. Will simply turn on the wireless connection s/he has on his own iPod, then using the built in "Bonjour" feature like that in iTunes, your friend will be able to locate your iPod and see the set of playlists you publish for others to view. S/he will be able either listen to the song you're listening to or just choose among the songs you have published in the form of Playlists. 2. With built in Bluetooth enabled on your iPod, your friend whom you want to share your headphone with, will just have to pair his/her bluetooth headset to your iPod and s/he will be able to listen to the song or audio track you're listening to.
Aside from these, some what obvious, application for the new wireless capabilities of the iPod, there are other commercial applications.
Imagine a museum equipped with RFID at each work of art. A visitor with a museum iPod would be able to view and listen to a self paced Podcast that is synchronized to the work of art that the visitor is looking at.
For the past 20 years, Apple had always promoted the concept of "killer applications" for their Macintosh platform, and due to the creative nature of the developers on the platform they had always came through for Apple. Apple had carried this spirit to the iPod product line and there are still room for innovations.