Three Little Words

On October 12th of 2005, Apple released the video iPod.

Since that day, a sequence of three words have existed in the collective mind of the Apple-following world. This is my least favorite phrase.

The phrase is true video iPod. (Alternate version: widescreen video iPod)

Engadget, “[Hands on with the 5.5G iPod](http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/12/hands-on-with-the-5-5g-ipod/)”, September 12 2006:

> Obviously we’re all a little underwhelmed that the 5.5G iPod isn’t the true video iPod…

Gizmodo, [Apple Showtime’s After Party: Photos of the iPod Playing Games](http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/apple-showtime/apple-showtimes-after-party-photos-of-the-ipod-playing-games-200238.php):

> We bet at even odds that there would be a new widescreen Video iPod. But we were burned. Again. Sigh…

Ars Technica, [New iPods now, Apple iTV coming in early 2007](http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060912-7723.html):

> Apple did take the wraps off of a new iPod today, but it was not the mythical “true video iPod” that we’ve been waiting for since last year…

Keep in mind, these are not comments from random people; these are from what I would consider the three leading gadget/tech news sites online. (Engadget and Gizmodo rank 3 and 4, respectively, on [Technorati’s Top 100](http://technorati.com/pop/blogs/))

Where did this idea that the existing iPod Video is not “true”? Think Secret, of course. Their series of articles leading up to and past the October 2005 launch of the video iPod make it very clear that, in their view, there was something better coming.

Think Secret, [Apple to announce iPod with video playback, media partnerships later today](http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0510oct12e.html), October 12 2005:

> Hours prior to Apple’s October 12, sources have clarified to Think Secret recent confusion surrounding Apple’s iPod announcement today. In brief: the iPod will be feature video playback capabilities but it is not *the* video iPod and Apple may not bill it as such.

Think Secret, [True video iPod to sport 3.5-inch display, touch-screen click wheel](http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0602videoipod.html), February 9 2006:

> Readers will recall that during the brouhaha leading up to the October release of the 5G iPod last year, Think Secret maintained that the video iPod would not be released at the time and, following the roll-out of the 5G iPod, that that iPod was “not *the* video iPod” but rather a souped up 4G iPod with video capabilities. This forthcoming iPod revision is what sources have said for some time will be the incarnation of a complete video iPod solution.

And even yesterday, it continues.

Think Secret, [Apple debuts updated iPods, iTunes 7, and movie sales; previews iTV](http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0609sept12mediaevent.html), September 12 2006:

> Meanwhile, sources report the highly anticipated touch-screen iPod, featuring a 3.5-inch display, remains on track for a release in the first-quarter of 2007.


I’ll get back to the rumor sites in a minute. But first:

We’re coming up on the fifth anniversary of the iPod; by a quick count in my head, we’ve been through eleven major revisions across the four product lines Apple’s introduced. It is obvious that there is no one product that is perfect for everyone – and surely, no single iPod revision has ever been ‘perfect’ in any sense of the word. There are always features that *could* have been added, or design decisions that *could* have been better.

The point: Apple is constantly evolving the product line. They have a roadmap, they have direction, and they have what is assuredly a gigantic team working on every aspect of the product line.

You, as a consumer, are not a part of this design process. At least, not directly – you *can* provide feedback. Apple has, historically, been receptive to customer demands. Equalization, lossless audio, and now gapless playback have all been customer-requested enhancements that provide useful functionality.

If you’re looking at yesterday’s announcements, and thinking “this isn’t what I wanted, I wanted the true video ipod!”, please ask yourself the following four questions:

* What would adding a widescreen do for you that the existing iPod does not?
* What would adding a touch screen do for you that the existing iPod does not?
* How much would you be willing to pay for such a device? (Assume the remainder of the specs match the current high-end $350 iPod.)
* Do you think there is a significant chunk of the marketplace who would buy such a device at such a price, assuming the current $350 iPod stays on the market?

If there is ever a strong marketplace need for such a device, I don’t doubt that Apple will make it. Is that need strong enough now? I personally can’t see it.


As for the rumor sites.

I may not need to give credentials, but – I’ve been following the Apple announcement cycle intently since around 1998. I have seen enough rumor sites come and go over the years.

The trajectory of rumor sites is simple: first, they get a handful of successful predictions while they have a source. They get linked, often by the blogs I referenced above, for somehow nailing their predictions. Their traffic spikes, ad revenues go through the roof. Apple Legal C&D’s them (or sometimes sues), and the legal fight becomes the news for a while.

While the fight is going on, the accuracy of the site starts dropping. Rumored products never appear. Keynote predictions go under 50% accuracy. Wrong information is attributed to “last minute decisions” or sometimes just edited down the memory hole.

Eventually, the traffic drifts to another site, because they’ve started the same trajectory.

Think Secret is on the downward part of this trajectory.

I would give admonitions at this point, warning people away from there, but really, I would rather people stopped putting their faith in *any* rumor sites.

Apple is supposed to create products and make them enticing enough to buy them. You’re free to evaluate them after they’ve been announced. But when you pre-empt the product announcement, and create your own product specs in your mind, you create your own [Reality Distortion Field](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_Distortion_Field). Either that, or you end up like the [most famous iPod-disappointment thread of all time](http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/10/23/1816257).

> No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

Be realistic in your expectations, and you will rarely be disappointed.

  • Cyd

    Hey Dan, you’ve come through again as my personal favorite sane person in the insanely great arena of “Appledom.” Thanks!
    And, btw, I ment to thank you before for giving me a great understanding of the security problem I asked out about. Because I have had security problems, I get a bit paranoid at times. A late, but heartfelt thanks for that level headed wisdom as well.
    You’re a voice I trust.

  • http://benzado.livejournal.com benzado

    Yesterday in the office a few of the guys were saying, “Yeah, they updated the iPod but it’s not the real video one” and it was really getting on my nerves. I don’t want to watch video on a screen covered by thumbprints.

  • http://adam.theficus.com Adam “rampage” Meltzer

    How long now have people been talking about a “true video iPod.” These things already exist, they are called PMCs and they by and large suck. Even Microsoft gets this with the Zune and are making it primarily a music player.
    Apple is not going to mess up the iPod, something that makes the company fabulous amounts of money and is a ridiculously high margin item.
    As for ThinkSecret, they jumped the shark a long, long time ago in my opinion. :(