iPod geekery

I've been reading John Gruber's Daring Fireball weblog since I became a Mac user, mostly so I could collect factoids and opinions I could repeat in conversations with real Mac users. In a post made at the end of last month, Gruber writes about Apple pseudo-abandoning its ‘iPod Photo’ line. At first I felt vindicated, since I never saw the point in viewing photographs on a screen no larger than the view-screen on a decent digital camera. By the second sentence, though, I felt like the same guy who predicted graphics on the web would never take off—it's really just a name change, since now all iPods will have colour screens and the ability to display photographs. (I still say, "So what?")

Apart from some intense font-geekery in the middle section, Gruber's post is an interesting read. (In fact, I'm just jealous that I'm nowhere near anal enough to make the font-related observations he makes.) On Apple's simple product range, he writes:
The most noticeable side-effect of the updated iPod lineup is that it’s been significantly simplified. There are now three main sub-brands: Shuffle, Mini, and regular, each with two sizes. [...]

It’s a lot easier to decide which iPod to buy today than it was a week ago. The hardest decision might be whether there’s any reason to get a 512 MB Shuffle now that the 1 GB model has been reduced to $129 [...]

This emphasis on a simplified product lineup has been a hallmark of the Jobs 2.0 Administration. For the most part, given a budget and a use case, it’s pretty easy to decide which Mac or which iPod to buy. (The hardest call to make, in my opinion, is between the iBooks and 12” PowerBook.) It seems so easy from the outside, but I suspect it’s very difficult to achieve, as evidenced by the muddied and complicated product lineups at most PC and consumer electronic companies.
I remember thinking pretty much exactly that when I was looking to buy a PowerBook. Gruber quotes from an interview with Creative Technology (a company that produces MP3 players that compete with the iPod) CEO Sim Wong Hoo, who seems to think the exact opposite is what people want. Of course, he also wonders why Creative can't beat Apple in the marketplace. Gruber gives the example of Creative's ‘Zen Micro’ range, which has a 4, 5 and 6 GB models. “What possible purpose does it serve,” Gruber asks, “to offer a 5 GB model, other than to make it hard to decide which one to buy?” Good question.

For a few weeks now, I've been wanting to buy a new graphics card for my Windows XP-based PC, but I just don't know what to buy. I'm actually at the point where I've offered a friend $50 to do the research and buy the card for me, because the choice is just so overwhelming. I can't even be bothered starting. Last time I checked with him, he couldn't either. It's just too hard. And poor old Sim Wong Hoo thinks that adding things like FM radio tuners and voice recording functions to differentiate Creative's lineup further is the way to go.


  1. Ahhh, Daring Fireball. Zealotry for the thinking man. Gruber says a lot of intelligent, well though out things but his one fatal flaw is that he is at heart still just another Apple fanboy.

    This is a pity and is off-putting enough to bother reading his blog on a regular basis. I do tend to hear about anything useful he has to say from other blogs, however, so all is not lost. Blogs: The infomation band-pass filters for the 21st century.

    Actually, it sounds like this is what you need to select that new video card - a vendor band-pass filter. Apple is an effective one for the Mac platform, but you are lacking one for PCs. So just pick some random component manufacturer and choose a card from their range.


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