Innovator upsets applecart yet again
Product: Apple Computer iPod Nano
Price: $1,550 for 2GB, $1,900 for 4GB
Pros: A small wonderful iPod
Cons: Lacks a lanyard to hang it from your neck
Not long ago, a few technology experts were predicting it was time for Apple to lose its 80 per cent market domination in the small music device space. Microsoft has 95 per cent of the desktop, but apparently that is all right. Apple, however, would soon be dragged down to earth - probably by Creative's Zen or something new from Sony.
Well, Apple brought out the iPod Nano and increased its market share - or so it would appear. Nanos are flying off shelves and many shops are already out of stock.
Why is it so special? The Nano must really be seen to be believed. It is difficult to imagine any product that can compare with it. Some have called it a singing stick of chewing gum.
It may not have quite that much flexibility, but it is wafer thin and has all the functionality of the original device, and more. There is a world clock, a stopwatch and screen lock. Considering that many people will want to travel with the Nano, the inclusion of a clock and screen lock are great additions.
One of the more interesting things about this is that, although it is much smaller than any previous iPod, the interface works exceptionally well.
The little colour screen can even show pictures, though it is doubtful anybody will buy it for that.
The Nano sees Apple finally giving up on Firewire. This was to be expected, of course. They first got rid of the cable, now the capability. Apple invented Firewire and it is still a great technology, but most PCs have opted for the - some would say inferior - USB 2.0. Consumer devices cannot afford to have too many interfaces that do the same thing. USB 2.0 may not be as fast as Firewire but it is good enough. More importantly, USB 2.0 is ubiquitous and so long as Firewire is around for hard disks it is a moot point.
The iPod Mini is now dead, long live the Nano. This may irritate some because whereas the Mini came in all sorts of funky colours, the Nano comes in white or black.
It is difficult to imagine that this will be a huge problem because many people will certainly want to get some kind of case for it to prevent scratches. Making these devices should be quite profitable. In a few months, expect to see all sorts of extras for the Nano.
I am sure the experts will some day be proved right and Apple will be unable to sustain this kind of market share. But if Apple continues to bring out devices like the Nano, it may take longer than some so-called experts think.