Re the new "iPod Shuffle" has Apple lost it's mind, or am I blind to the genius?

Meet iPod shuffle, the unpredictable new iPod.

So I’m reading the description on Apple’s website. The iPod “shuffle” is a new iPod that’s flashcard memory based.

Mmmm OK, lots of them out there like that, and Apple’s a bit late to the flash player party. What makes it different or special?

I see that it comes in 512 meg and 1 gig sizes at 100 and 150. Well prices seem competitive! (unusual for Apple)

Oh BTW it’s got no display… Huh? And you can’t choose a song to play. Nope! All the songs are randomly shuffled, all the time.

What the hell? I re-read it to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

No… wait you don’t have to just trust the whimsy of the fates, you can choose a boring, fascist “play order” mode that plays them as you loaded them, but you still can’t see what’s chosen or playing.

Is this marketing hubris gone mad, or a special genius I just can’t see? (literally and figuratively)

I just saw that today. I think someone at Apple screwed up. It’s big selling point is that it randomly shuffles. Woo hoo! A whole new radical X-treme listening experience!

Even if you were to think this feature was amusing, you’d probably think this for about 2 minutes. Right up until the moment you wanted to hear a specific song, and had no way of finding it.

New Coke and Clear Pepsi, move over big guys.

I love shuffle (I’m always in shuffle mode, although usually shuffling around a “rainy day” or “sunny day” playlist) but it’s been around forever. My old MP3 CD player did shuffle when the iPod was just a gleam in Apple’s eye.

Apple has never been one to play up the affordability of their products. Usually because they’re not. Shame in this case, considering that $150 is a pretty damn good price for a 1GB MP3 player. Shuffle’s nice, and a lot of people like it, but not me. I like to listen to whole albums at once. Besides that, I’ve got a couple of audiobooks on my Neuros. Going from George Carlin to Jimmy Buffett to GWAR to a random chapter out of The Universe in a Nutshell is a bit too schizophrenic for me.

Uh, it’s only 100 dollars, and it’s an iPod. I think that’s the point!

So real world usability is supposed to take a back seat cause “it’s an iPod”?

pizzabrat is right. It’s just about branding. iPod brand flash player. They’re gambling on the name making the sale. Having never used a flash player… Do none of them have display features? Or is that an iPod drawback?

You can turn the shuffle feature off.

Rysler: It’s an iPod drawback. The Creative MuVo, Rio Cali, TDK Mojo, and others all have displays.

Apparently LOTS of iPod users use shuffle. And as you say, you can play songs in playlist order. It is an interesting decision - “hey - instead of cramming a display on a tiny player, just get rid of the display altogether!”

Plus it doubles as a USB drive so you can store files on it too.

Some (most?) flash players have displays, but most (all?) of the displays suck (that’s my understanding, not personal experience)

People thought the iPod mini (4GB for $249 when you could get a 20GB iPod for $299) would flop - it was a huge hit.

Brian

I know, I mentioned that in the OP.

The lack of display is just such a bizarre design choice for a company like Apple that likes to have cutting edge products. Only the lowest of the low end flash players don’t have an LCD that displays the song choices. A 512 meg and 1 gig player will hold about 100/200 songs of average length, respectively. In 2005 to be expected to have to wade through that number of song choices without a display to guide you is just nigh incomprehensible.

Yeah, but it’s better than not having one. IMO, of course.

No display Mac = buy your own display.
No display iPod = buy your own display.

It MIGHT be genius. I could foresee a new class of audio products that use an iPod as a storage device, like a CD, and provides a high-quality display as part of the bargain.

Get in your car, put your Shuffle into slot of your car radio and select a playlist. Get home, recharge the thing by sliding it into your home stereo. Use the display on the hi-fi. Same with boom boxes and the rest of it.

Or maybe I am wrong.

I suppose there COULD be some display that hooks up to the USB port, but I think it defats the purpose.
Funny footnote on official site: ( http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/ )

lets you think it is lawyers going amok, the Mac mini has this:

(the picture shows somebody holding the logic board)

and

I picked a 512 MB USB drive at random from bestbuy – $79. (there are more expensive ones but I’m sure there are cheaper) - so basically you get a MP3 player for $20.

Personally I don’t really want one, and I can see how the lack of display would bother people, but a there is a large segment that this appeals to (including current iPod owners) Think of it a s radio that only plays your favorite 200 songs.

Brian

It appeals to me, even though the image appears to be a pregnancy test.

I’ve got a pile of mp3s but I’ve never purchased a portable mp3 player. I definitely don’t want to spend $299 or $399 on an iPod, or even $249 on an iPod Mini. I’d like to put a playlist on that and either listen to it in order or randomly, and if I want to skip a song, I press the >> button and move to the next one. I think people focusing on the shuffle aspect or the lack of display are missing the point of this.

It would be something to use while taking a dog for a walk, or working out, or cleaning the house, et cetera. It’s almost as idiot-proof as turning on a radio. This isn’t meant to replace the existing line of iPods, but rather complement them. If you’re looking for a mp3 player that holds thousands of songs and allows you to rapidly select the specific one you want, this isn’t the iPod for you.

Fortunately, Apple has a couple others available that may suit your needs.

You can always try the Frontier Nex Ia player, which retails at around $60-$70. Works on Flash cards (sold separately). It also has a display, you can select what you want to listen to, and if you know where to show, you’ll be up and running well under $150 for a 1 Gig portable music experience.

I think the appeal is in the way it interfaces with iTunes. It sounds like connecting it to your PC causes iTunes to “autofill” the iPod with a random collection of tracks from your larger collection, giving you a little of that iPod shuffle love, for a whole lot less money. I think it sounds great, since I’m not willing to lay down $300+ for a real iPod.

I don’t know if lack of a display is that big a deal. Remember cassettes? And CD’s? All you had was a “skip to next track” and maybe a track number, which you had to cross reference with the CD case.

Yes, I realize that is progress, but a lot of Apple’s customers are yuppies/use-to-be-thirtysomethings who remeber that style of interface, and will be just fine with it. Apple has always excelled at this, using intuitive, familiar interfaces for new tasks.

I think Paul in Saudi has a good point, as I’ve had the same idea. Imagine several different types of players that you could slap a thumbdrive in, and play all your music from your drive. Your friend could do the same with his own drive/music. It even has your playlists stored on the drive, and lets you choose which you want to hear. Kinda like that little control unit you get with XM radio, where you can put the unit into a stereo, a car stereo, a portable, etc. and get your stations.

Any bets that we see the iPods, that mini mac and the iMovie/iFilm etc suite morph into Apple’s shot at the “media pc?” A small (palm pc) sized color LCD on the iPod, and now you have video, not just music, recorded (or downloaded) to your Mac, played where you want on your iPod with LCD.

Just a guess.

They’re already halfway there with the iPod photo.

The lack of display doesn’t matter for the iPod shuffle-- it’s not designed for anyone who already has an iPod or other MP3 player, it’s for someone who’s looking to get into the portable MP3 world cheap. That it doubles as a USB memory stick is an added bonus. Throw in the ability to run it off AA batteries, and Apple will laugh to the bank.