Why an iPod Plus is more likely than an Apple Netbook.

Posted on 11 December 2008 by

ipodplus Following Apple’s moves is a complex but fun and stimulating activity so here’s my take on the big, crazy, risky business of predicting where Apple will move. I think they will move up the Ipod chain rather than down the notebook chain and here’s why.

Netbooks are cheap and in my head, I just can’t get past that simple thought. Apple can’t make a netbook as it would seriously risk de-valuing every other product in their portfolio and, due to the required sales numbers and relative complexity of OS X, could screw their global support operations.  An $899 10″ mini-note is possible, I agree, but despite sizing similarities, it wouldn’t be a netbook would it. Mind you, you can guarantee that every netbook web site will cover it like there’s no tomorrow! I will end that argument against netbooks there but they do play a part as I get to the details of my prediction below.

There are three other options that I see for Apple. The first is one of incremental change. Small improvements all-round. The problem with that is that the last Apple event felt like just the same and losing momentum right now could be an issue. Then again, major production-line investment for a new product could also be risky but given the fact that Apple have plenty of cash and that there are probably production lines out there just begging for a large production run, maybe that’s not the risk it could be.

The second option is some sort of 7″ notebook or tablet. While I, and many of you, like this style of device, we have to be honest and say that the productive ultra-mobility market is probably too niche for Apple. There’s a chance of a simple, slim 7″ iPod touch and a push into e-books, sofa surfing, sofa-gaming and turn-by-turn navigation on the existing iPod Touch hardware and software engine but while interesting and, to me, quite exciting, I don’t see a 7″ Apple tablet happening as again, it could be too niche.

The third option, and more likely in my opinion is a 5″ iPod Plus

Filling the hole that will eventually be left by dwindling MP3 player sales [Yes, Christmas iPod sales are buzzing along but in general, I see the dedicated MP3 player market dropping away over the next few years] providing some of the features of the above, 7″ device, retaining mobility and building on the money-making app audio and video-store is the key which indicates to me that a slightly larger iPod touch with better storage, video, navigation, ebook, web experience and perhaps data-only 3G would be a more attractive and solid base to build on for the future.

It would extend what the iPhone and iPod touch do right into the high-end of some of the markets it already works in.

  • High-End Mobile and Home Video. Can an existing iPod play YouTube HD or high-res iTunes video content or output to a screen – No.
  • High-End GPS+Compass Navigation. Can an existing iPod or iPhone do turn-by-turn or pedestrian navigation – No.
  • High-End Handheld Web browsing. Can an existing iPod or iPhone provide a full web experience – No
  • High-End Home and Mobile Gaming. Can an iPod Touch or iPhone be used for external-screen gaming – Not officially.

These are all emerging high-end consumer markets and high-end is exactly what Apple is all about. Nearly all of these markets are as-yet, untapped by Apple in any consumer product they sell and only require an incremental increase on the existing product and existing back-end services to support them.

The device I called the iPod Plus would take the form of an iPod (keeping consumer focus, not business focus) but would be enlarged to have a 4.8″ WVGA (800×480) screen. This size and resolution is regarded optimal for no-zoom, 20-30cm handheld operation for web, ebook reading, navigation and seat-back video playback. 200DPI on 4.8″ is a sweet-spot between readability, resolution and price and allows designers to retain a good level of pocketability.

Given that form-factor then, here are the other things that it would be reasonable to expect given the state of the market, Apples product range and current technical restraints.

Hardware:

  • CPU: 800Mhz Cortex A8. Proven. Available. 2-4 times processing power improvement. ARM and partners would put a lot of effort into this to showcase their new products into new segments.
  • GPS module and an electronic compass (needed for auto and pedestrian navigation)
  • Enlarge the battery to 150% and make it removable. (Due to increased usage model)
  • Data-only 3G module. Unlocked.  (No voice to avoid it cutting across partner products and to ease a global rollout through carrier deals.)
  • Improve video and 3D co-processing to enable a step-change in capability in these areas.  (HD 720P and re-stimulate the existing developers to enhance their games and make 2nd versions)
  • Screen/TV output (digital)
  • Mid-range built-in webcam
  • Good storage. 16GB-64GB storage options.
  • Include an FM transmitter and receiver. (In-car use)
  • Weigh no more than 300gm. Challenging but possible.

Software

  • Improve the browser so that it approaches the desktop experience. Flash, extensions, plugins.
  • Allow the device to run more than one third-party app at a time. (‘Gold-partner’ third-party apps status?)
  • Improve the video playback performance to 720p. (Keep up with the YouTubes)
  • Live widgets/apps on the home screen or standby screen. A must to allow living-room show-pieces as photo-frame, weather indicator, radio, mini TV.
  • Offer turn-by-turn car and foot navigation options with a huge Internet-connected back-end of core, sponsored and community-supplied POIs. Advertising opportunities exist here. Big ones.
  • Allow VOIP with Video. Preferably a Skype client on the device. Bringing a consumer-level skype video phone to the masses. Opportunities for Skype revenue sharing. Good brand.
  • E-book reader software. Again, some excellent revenue opportunities exist here. Kindle has proven that the market exists and will be supported by a new set of passionate users. Some screen technology issues may remain (size, contrast, brightness, resolution) but it should be acceptable for the masses.

Accessories

  • Offer a docking station which adds hard-disk storage, TV/Video in, digital audio and video out and can stream like a slingbox. Maybe it should inter-work with Apple TV. This is a tough one but done well, it would reel-in many Archos, Cowon and other PMP fans.
  • Sell a car dash mount with the required connectivity for audio and video to the back seats. (Dual screen operation)  The first consumer-level CarPC? Given the existing touch-focused UI, this wouldn’t be too difficult and could be an extension of the existing Google maps app. Revenue opportunities for map subscription and advertising exist here. Regulatory (safety) issues could be big though. Alternatively, partner with auto manufacturers to add docks into cars over the coming years.
  • Sell a desktop dock that allows the users to run the browser and software on an external monitor with a keyboard and mouse. A mini, low-end, thin-client desktop. Spin this as a cloud computing device and reel-in the customers waiting for a TechCrunch tablet-style device. It would also stimulate more 3rd-party development for productivity apps and by spinning off a new ‘productivity’ section of the app store, Apple could fix some of the pricing war problems on low-cost software.
  • Gaming adaptors, controllers.

Whats missing?

The keyboard. Personally I’d prefer a keyboard on this device but I understand that by sacrificing the keyboard you can have better design flexibility and more physical space for the very important battery. For the mass-market, I believe that no keyboard would be a better option.

How much would that cost?

You’re adding personal navigation, e-books, tv playback, cloud computing and video telephony. That’s a $500 set of consumer products just there! Hardware increases would probably be IRO $150. (3G, CPU, GPS, Compass, FM, TV-out.) Apple have a huge price range between $399 and something like $799 to play with. $599-$699 actually feels right for a launch price range. It retains a quality pricing feel and yet it doesn’t cross any existing product pricing boundaries. There’s some question about Mac Mini’s and Apple TV but there are possibilities to integrate these products. With the right content deals (turn-by-turn, video calling, productivity apps)

How many could they sell?

Interestingly, this is where the netbook market comes in. If Apple could highlight/spin the desktop ‘cloud’ capability and get the entry-level down to $499 (by removing car navigation elements such as GPS, FM, Compass)  I think they could divert 5-10% of the netbook market. That’s a million sales per year at least. Add-in the potential sales from PMP, PND, CarPC, Gaming, E-Reader (web, book, potentially huge in the coming years) I think you can add another million sales per year. Maybe more. It’s a growth market too. It’s easy to imagine netbook sales growing for another 2 years but the Internet-connected mobile consumer market has more potential when you consider the device categories that are heading into it and a 5-year timescale.

3 million isn’t a huge number compared to iPods but its a significant number of incremental sales for the iPod range and, importantly,  millions of new users for the successful, pre-existing iTunes and app-store model. Its also the base for a 5-year product cycle. The margins could be higher than on a netbook (especially as the netbook market develops further across the mass-market time-line) the risk to the existing Apple products would be less and the sales numbers would require less investment in expensive human-powered support. The device and its entry into new markets would also create huge amounts of press and buzz. Potentially more than a low-cost macbook.

In comparison, how many sales would Apple really get from a $699 netbook? 10% of the netbook market is also only about 2 million per year but it comes with such huge risk. Crossing the serious business of notebooks and dekstop software with the consumer market would be a risk that many wouldn’t dare to take. Investors would have serious issues understanding the consequences too. I think Mr Jobs would take a similar view.

Update: Techcrunch have some ‘rumors‘ on a 7-9″ tablet.

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  • JC

    If, by “full web experience”, you mean Flash, it doesn’t seem likely that Apple will put Flash on an iPod touch or iPhone until Flash is more power efficient. When Adobe announced a specific initiative to put Flash on mobiles, they were pretty much admitting that it wasn’t written with power efficiency in mind. I have no doubt that an iPod touch, iPhone, or T-Mobile G1 is powerful enough to run Flash. The question is how long will the battery last.

    Apple could resolve the keyboard issue by allowing pairing with a bluetooth keyboard. Those who need a physical keyboard can get one. Those who don’t get a thinner device with a more flexible user interface. (Maybe there’s a battery life issue with bluetooth? But it might be a market cannibalization issue.)

    It’s worth pointing out that the UI that iPod touch/iPhone uses really does not scale up to a significantly larger screen size. It’s all about being able to scroll around, zoom in, and zoom out with as little effort as possible. It also has no capability to display more than one app at a time. These are features when you’re using a relatively small screen. If you can dock the thing and use a large screen, I think people will find the UI wanting.

    Also, are existing apps capable of dealing with different size displays? If not, that could be a problem for going to even 800×480, much less anything larger. Ultimately though, a dock station seems unlikely because it may cannibalize laptop and desktop sales. If you want to use a full sized keyboard and large screen, I suspect that what Apple really wants is for you to buy one of their $1000+ MacBooks or iMacs.

    Given Apple’s current fetish over all things thin, I don’t think Apple will make an iPod with an easily replaceable battery unless it doesn’t compromise thinness. The latest iPhone actually has exposed screws, which is unusual for them. A battery the user can swap out isn’t impossible. However, it doesn’t seem likely, especially if the battery life is industry standard or better.

    I do agree that a netbook seems like an unprofitable idea for Apple. They’re unlikely to get a large enough share of the market to make it worth their while. Also, barring a couple aberrations that they seem to pay no attention to (e.g. Mac Mini), they don’t do computers under $1000. I have no idea why everything keeps thinking Apple will come out with one.

    A slightly larger iPod seems more plausible. It’s more likely though that they’d do all this, but leave the form factor alone.

    (Question: Are there lots of Archos fans? If the number of people who use Archos products is small relative to the number of iPod users, it may not make any sense to devote much effort to attracting them. Apple’s strategy over the years has explicitly not been trying to be all things to all people. You can tell from all the blog posts complaining about the features Apple products don’t have.)

  • Jerry

    As much as i’ve been posting a long time everywhere for such a device, I don’t believe Apple will release anything like it until 2011. If they did sell an Ipod Plus/Ipad it wouldn’t affect the Apple notebooks, but would distract buyers from the newly revised Ipod Touch’s and Iphones that are very hot right now. The App Store is doing just fine without a 5″ Touch.

    What I think will happen at MacWorld Steve is a $999 Atom Macbook, without the DVD burner, marketed for the more frugal buyer. It’s priced almost top tier and would draw other netbookers to it who want an OS-X computer. Any cheaper than that price and people will avoid the better spec’d Alumminum Macbooks. Those who want the older White Macbook can still get it at the same price. I also think a newer MacMini would find its way to Macworld at around $600. We’ll see come January. :)

    • Chippy

      Yes, I can see that scenario being a possibility. A kind of MBA lite.
      Definately not a netbook though.

    • Chippy

      Kevin Tofel has an alternative view whcih aligns with the “An $899 10″ mini-note.
      As I said:
      “is possible, I agree, but despite sizing similarities, it wouldn’t be a netbook would it. ”

      Still, a good article from Kevin and worth reading.
      http://www.jkontherun.com/2008/10/3-reasons-well.html

      Steve

      • Chippy

        Oh that was an October article. Sorry.

  • Vakeros

    Make the screen up to 5.6″ (with a thin bezel) add keyboard and you have the perfect UMPC, only question is who will get there first – Apple, MS, on an Atom or ARM. Remember Apple did make the Newton, but it failed and once bitten…

    • Will

      That sounds a lot like a Flipstart: 5.6″ device with a physical keyboard.

  • Robert

    Greetings Chippy:

    In other words Apple would create the Holy Grail of UMPC’s.

    If Apple could price it for less than $400US, it would make nuclear shock

    waves through the Industry and I would buy one.

    Regards Robert

  • twalk

    Chippy, I’m seeing here the same sort of mistake that I see in a lot of failed business plans. (That said, it’s a near certainty that there are people in Apple thinking this same way.)

    The mistake is in designing a product, then trying to find a market niche that it will fit into. What you need to find is either an underserved market or one in which you can take marketshare away. That’s always been Apple’s path to success in the past.

    What are the sales drivers for mobile? I see 4 primary ones: cell calling, music, games, and running PC level apps. The other stuff (internet, video, ebooks, etc) have never been able to drive sales to a fraction of what those 4 primary ones do (they work as secondary device features). So you need something that does one of those primary things well, and several of the others good enough. (When I say primary sales driver, that’s 100M+ in sales. Devices that target those secondary categories have <10M in sales, often for the entire lifetime of the category.)

    So what does Apple have covered? Cell: iPhone. Music: iPod. Games: nothing really. Running PC level apps: Macbook. So the only things that make much sense is for Apple to make either a portable game device (and then go head-to-head against Nintendo and Sony) or to make a netbook (which could cut into more profitable Macbook sales).

    To add to the above, there’s really just 3 categories of portability: 1) pants pocket, 2) purse/coat pocket, and 3) laptop bag sized. Devices that fall into size category 2 have historically by far the highest failure rate.

    IF Apple brings out anything in this area, the only thing that really makes sense market-wise is a netbook (they could try something else, but…). They’d have to make something good enough that people would want it, but yet crippled enough to keep from cutting into higher margin Macbook sales. (Since Apple has a higher notebook/desktop sales ratio than PCs do, this is a big issue.)

    They’d need something like this: Take one of the newer Atom processor/chipset combos that can give 5 hours of batter life with a 4 cell battery. Use a standard 9″ screen and make everything as small (or smaller) than a Dell Mini 9. Get it under 2lbs. Like the Mini 9, remove/move a column of keys (crippled, but yet bigger keys). Give it a fixed 1G/16G SSD (not enough memory/storage to compete against a Macbook). Give it a rotatable screen (touchpad use) and 3G (AT&T contract, maybe exclusively through). Give it a stripped and optimized version of OSX. Not much different than the rest of the netbooks out there, but it’s definitely not a direct replacement for a Macbook.

    In reality, there’s a pretty good chance that Apple won’t see an opprotunity here worth pursing.

    • Chippy

      I’m not with you. Who’s making the mistake?

      You said:
      “The mistake is in designing a product, then trying to find a market niche that it will fit into. What you need to find is either an underserved market or one in which you can take marketshare away. That’s always been Apple’s path to success in the past.”

      You really believe the netbook market in ‘underserved’? Maybe not. They could take market share away, thats for sure. 10% of the total netbook market. 2 million per year perhaps?

      I think you have it the wrong way round. The underserved markets, the opportunities or emerging markets if you like, are the four ‘high-end’ points I listed above and are perfect for Apple’s back-end strategy of itunes store sales. The icing on the cake is that even with these products, they could take market share from netbooks.

      The question I didnt really address in my article (since i’ve re-read it a few times today) is timescales. I losely imply that i’m talking about the Jan event. I actually think that for this iPod Plus, it would take until mid 2009.

      There’s certainly a chance of a cheaper smaller macbook in Jan but I don’t see it being anywhere near netbook pricing and therefore,by most peoples definition, not a netbook. It will be just like the pro-mobile devices of old. P1510, Flybook V33, Sony Vaio and these were simply mini notebooks and werent big sellers. There’s a chance it could use the Menlow platform due to the hardware H.264 decoding but i’m thinking more like $1000, 10″ MBA than anything under $900.

      We’ll see. As I said, its fun and stimulating trying to think through it all. Feedback and disussion always helps.

      Steve.

      Steve

      • twalk

        (To clarify, I didn’t say that the netbook market is underserved. In fact it looks like practically the entire mobile market is way overserved, with products in practically every niche, whether they make sense or not. That means that Apple needs to go with option 2.)

        The problem is that you basically talk about the device and all of it’s features, before you talk about the market opprotunity. It’s the same mistake that many business plan writers make, and experienced investors usually don’t spend much time looking at them. The reason is that if you are designing the device first, then the very strong tendency is to take a high-level view of how many can sell, often throwing out “if we can get X% of the market…”. (I’ve heard that *so* many times…)

        It’s much harder to find market opprotunity and then design a product to fit that, which is why you hear it so much the other way. Doing this requires a “building up” of numbers of market prospects, which is a lot more work, but a lot more accurate.

        Apple’s recent successes have been by taking market share away from others in established markets with superior design/distribution/marketing. I don’t really see them going away from that.

        As for an iPod Plus, my feeling is that it’s too big for cell & music use, video/internet/GPS/ebook doesn’t have enough of a market for a primary function, it’s not a computer replacement, and it would likely do worse than the iPod Touch in sales for gaming (touch has the numbers). As described, it’s basically a PMP on steriods, which currently isn’t a very big market, especially for a company like Apple.

        I basically threw out the netbook example. I find it likely that Apple wouldn’t do it because of the fear of cutting into Macbook sales. For an iPod Plus, I could see something like it, highly modified, for use in education (lot’s of pain there that could be solved with the right device and lots of support software).

        Steve, don’t take this the wrong way. I *do* like your site.

  • Jerry

    I agree with Steve that a “netbook” won’t be displayed at Macworld while a smaller fully capable Atom Macbook will. A dedicated game system seems unlikely given Apples style even if they could make a lot of money with such a thing. What is also possible in January is an OS-X 13.3″ Tablet. That would be kind of nice. :)

  • turn.self.off

    heh, i almost feel ripped of here. i think i have commented before that i suspect apple to basically turn the current non-pro machines into some kind of iphone with keyboard.

    basically dumb down the computer interface to iphone levels, but allow the same simple access to ITMS and its subsystems.

    basically envision something like the eeepc or acer, with their linux variant easy interfaces, but with the apple experience focus, and a dedicated icon taking the user direct to ITMS.

    that, safari and mobileme, and maybe a scaled back iwork package, and you got the basics of a netbook.

    can someone say newton mk2? ;)

    • Chippy

      The device you speak of sounds considerably larger than what I imagined an iPod Plus to look like. I think that rather than a dumbed down laptop, its going to be an enhanced iPod without keyboard. I have a screen size of 5″ in my mind.

      S

      • turn.self.off

        only time will show who, if any, is right i guess ;)

        and yours may well be even closer to a newton mk2 then mine.

        now, if really do hope someone calls jobs on his newton comments if such a device ever shows up while he leads the company.

  • midtoad

    “What’s missing? Keyboard”

    Well Apple already makes a very nice bluetooth keyboard. If this putative iPod Plus had bluetooth, those that want a real keyboard could use an Apple-branded product for that very purpose.

    BTW my Apple keyboard works well with my Nokia N82 phone, but it won’t work with any iPhone. Why? Because Apple has chosen to cripple the bluetooth stack.

  • ArchiMark

    Great topic, Chippy and lots of good comments already, so, don’t a lot to add…

    While I’d love to have an iPod Plus or MacBookTabletPC (convertible tablet design), or even a Newt MKII….unfortunately, given His Steveness’s past comments and actions, I’d be very surprised if we see any of these options anytime soon….

    This is one time that I’d really like to be wrong on this but….

    ;-)

  • JC Canada

    I’m reading many articles about Apples move into Netbook/UMPC markets, but people need to realize that Apple is a Corporation, and not an nonProfit Co:
    1) Apple will not cannibalize their highly successful Macbook lineup with a low cost Netbook
    2) The easy money for Apple is in Services (iTunes, App Store, MobileMe)
    3) iPod Touch is selling fast

    Therefore:
    4) Any new iPod Plus needs to tap into 2) revenue stream
    5) Smaller Flash memory cost by using a Cloud type device for extra storage
    6) A sound Business model would be to produce an iPod Plus as mentioned, with a “premium” App store (30% + $1 for example) to encourage better Apps at premium prices (The App Store is “freemium” for the next step)

  • tal

    I go with the netbook option. Saying that it wouldn’t be a netbook is kind of strange in my opinion. If it walk like a duck and looks like a duck … so see where I am going. It will be pricey but that didn’t stop you from having the Fujitsu p1620 in your database …
    The new Apple 8.9″-10″ netbook will also take the netbook form into the Gigabyte m912 and Fujitsu p1630/20/10 land. Meaning a swivel touch screen. It will also have high end specs and long battery life. 850$ will be the magic price and I suspect it eating at least 20% of the netbook market within a year. This will be the next evolution step of netbooks.

    • ArchiMark

      And where pray tell, are you getting all this info on ‘Apples new netbook/tabletPC’????

      You sound very sure of what the specs will be and that it’s forthcoming…..

      Just curious….

  • ganesha

    Sounds like you want a Nokia n900(if its going to be called that), but with all the apple pie…:

  • alese

    My guess is Apple will go with Atom MacBook(Netbook), if Asus sees the value in high end EEE then I guess Apple could too.

    As for iPod plus thing, while people would love to get something like that I agree that current iPhone/Touch applications are probably not built for higher resolutions (maybe I’m wrong) and I don’t think they would risk making a mess out of Apple Store.

    I would however love to get such a device. Actually I allready have almost exactly that in my HTC Advantage, except the screen resolution being only VGA and the poor multimedia (video) capabilities. So it doesn’t have to be Apple, if HTC builds improved Advantage with let’s say 32GB flash, new and better screen and with more power, I would be just as happy.

  • John

    In order for me to be interested in an “ipod plus”, it would have to have a few things:

    1) physical qwerty keyboard
    2) bluetooth HID for using external keyboard (and possibly mouse)
    3) SSH with port forwarding
    4) VNC viewer and possibly VNC server
    5) ability to sync local storage to desktop (as with older iPods)
    6) SyncML client
    7) bluetooth DUN and and PAN client (to tether against a phone that doesn’t do wifi tethering)
    8) an option for built-in 3G Data modem (iPhone plus?)

  • grey

    I pretty much feel crippled when browsing on the iTouch. So High-End (or full-feature) Handheld Web browsing would be what I look for in Apple’s new product.

  • nomax

    2 things apple did wrong: no flash, no bt stack for external keyboards.
    Really, I dont get why. Stve Jobs: R U listening?

    Nomax

  • JM Cador also called Maii

    Hi all

    Looking at the evolution of the hardware and software markets.
    *Desktops sales are dwindling.
    *Laptops prices are coming down fast.
    *Netbook are swamping the market.
    *MIDs are not making any foray into the mainstream consumers market yet.
    *Smartphones are becoming more prominent.
    *Mp3/mp4 are now more kitted with touch screens and sizes are between 3 and 7″

    In terms of touch screen/ui market, Apple is going to encounter very big competition from all the computer, phone/smartphones manufacturers but also from mp3 ones (Archos, Cowon to name but 2)
    But another big threat it seems will be from Google’s free and open Android project.

    It looks like everyone is playing catch up with Apple’s products and services.

    So if you were Steve Job and well aware of the facts mentioned above but also as you all know Apple is very keen in designing “new exciting” products that will appeal to the public. That is what they have been doing for the last few years,
    Bearing in mind that A has a very good team of designers, I reckon that we need to try and imagine a new device that will give A the publicity the company needs in order to keep abreast of the competition and also to be able to sell this new product at prices the company wants.

    Although I tend to agree with you Steve about the possibility of an ipod plus, I would tend to look towards the tablet market but the new device would perhaps be 9″ but made up of 2 very thin screens on a kind of sliding mecanism, similar to the one I saw on that designer competition. You may think that 2 screens don’t make sense, but I can see a couple of uses for one of the 2 screens like a keyboard, a dock with icons of all the application and so on.

    I know it seems far fetched but perhaps not impossible. What do you think?

    • turn.self.off

      more like they are trying to catch up to apples ability to build both a service, and a device to access said service.

      so far, only microsoft or operators have really been service interested. the hardware companies have been focusing getting the hardware working, and leaving it at that.

      steve jobs likes to say that apple is in the business of making the whole widget. this allows them to create a consistent and integrated experience. ipod+itunes+itms was the start, and now they are branching on that with mobileme and appstore on top of the ipod touch and iphone.

      google is working towards the same thing with andorid and its web-based services.

      microsoft is gunning for the same with live.

      basically, companies like samsung and htc have been toying with the phone part of the iphone package, while many a operator have been toying with the itms/appstore part.

      apple just brought it all under one roof, rather then leave some of it up to the whim of some third party.

      thats why apple dont bother with flash to support youtube. they rather go directly to them and get them to recode videos in a apple specified format, so that apple dont have to scramble with a update if youtube and adobe suddenly release a new flash version with a new video codec, breaking iphone support.

      apple is basically a extension of the control freak known as steve jobs.

  • anon

    An insightful article, thanks. I’ve yet to own even an iPod myself but I do have a 3G netbook. While an iPod+ wouldn’t fulfill all my remaining needs, it would be an interesting device. Kind of like the current iPod Touch was at first.

  • John

    For me, the screen has to be bigger than 4.5″. I have a 4.5″ 800×480 device (Nokia N810), and there were times I really wished I had a little more. Thus my move to the Samsung Q1 Ultra.

    I definitely want something closer to a 7″ screen. 10″ is way too big for my gadget bag. 8.9″ is my upper limit. But 7″ I could live with.

    I also want external keyboard ability (without having to jailbreak the device). Preferably it would be able to use both USB and Bluetooth keyboards. That, plus their inkwell technology for “writing with your fingertip”. Oh, and, a nice to have: when in landscape orientation, a split translucent virtual thumb keyboard similar in concept to the Samsung Q1 non-Ultra, so that you can thumb type and see the app at the same time.

    As for the 3G data… I think they could do it as an add-on option, really. A 7″ screen device could have room for a PCI-Express-Mini card. There’s rumors that the iPhone will do tethering soon, so why not have the “iPod Plus” be usable with whatever forms of tethering the iPhone supports? (I’d hope for all 4 methods: USB, BT DUN, BT PAN, and wifi).

    On the software side, with the “improve browser support”, I wouldn’t limit that to just flash. I don’t know about the iPhone, but on the G1, the Google Reader and Google Mail support is somewhere in between “plain phone” and “full desktop” support. There are some key features I find missing from both applications when I’m on the G1. I would expect that Google puts its apps into a similar classification when running on the iPhone. (what’s missing on the G1 is: ability to use keyboard shortcuts, ability to add/edit tags in google reader, ability to create/edit labels and filters in gmail, ability to “filter messages like these” in gmail, ability to “send as” one of your other registered email addresses in gmail, and then from other apps there’s things like full support for Google Docs). I would want to see all of those things be more like the full desktop experience, so that I don’t have to save some articles/messages for later if I first read them on the iPod Plus (which is what I have to do when I’m on the G1).

    Other software I’d want: Apple Remote Display client, SSH with port forwarding, and VNC Viewer. Apple Remote Display _server_ and VNC _server_ would be quite nice as well. The client side for managing my desktop systems, and the server side for displaying my iPod Plus on my desktop when I’m at home/work.

    As for your requirement about a digital display… I think we already know what such a display port would be if its available: Apple’s new Display Port :-) Which can convert out to VGA, DVI-A, DVI-I, DVI-D, and I think HDMI. What more do you need?

    What I would want on the external display ability, though, is that it work with normal display resolutions. The Samsung with Ubuntu wants to step down to 800×600 when I hook it up to a monitor, instead of doing something intelligent: display 1024×600 on a 1024×768 monitor using letter boxing to fill in the extra pixels. The external display should support mirroring to the nice HD resolutions, but instead of compromising the display when you’re going to a conventional monitor or TV, it should letterbox, IMO.

    The last thing that I find missing/annoying about the iPhone and iPod Touch line is: no external storage. An microSDHC slot on them is, IMO, sorely missing. I understand that they want to protect their music data, and possibly protect against external applications. So, just don’t make it possible to store the music and apps on the external storage. But having the ability to access external storage (microSDHC on the iPhone and iPod Touch, SD and/or USB on the iPod Plus) doesn’t have to violate that. It can be a place that can just store documents. This is unix: make the file system drivers for the external storage devices ignore the “execute” bit of any files, and make sure the version of bash/sh that is included on the i-devices checks to be sure it’s not being fooled into running a script from one of those file systems. There, good to go.

    Oh, and, if done right, this could also fit the rumors for the new Mac Mini. Everything I just said could also replace the need for a Mac Mini. Plus, the rumors of a sleeker/thinner Mac Mini would fall into a similar size category. And it would retain a “mac mini” device product category without allowing it to continue cannibalizing the low end iMac sales, because the iPod Plus wouldn’t be a full Macintosh.

    So, in summary, what I want/hope-for for an iPod Plus:

    1) 7″ to 8.9″ display, should fit in a 10″ long gadget bag
    2) External Display Port using Apple’s new/current display port tech
    3) USB Host and/or OTG port for keyboard/mouse and other devices
    (including, but not limited to, USB storage, USB tethering,
    USB modems, USB ethernet ports, and USB CD/DVD drives)
    4) BT DUN, BT PAN, BT HID, BT BIP
    5) Full Desktop Browser, not just with Flash, but with full Google Apps
    6) Remote Desktop/SSH/VNC capabilities as both client and server
    7) PCI-Express-Mini card slot for optional 3G
    8) and then all of the other iPod Touch capabilities

    That device as the iPod Plus would probably handle all of my mobile needs. And might even get me to move over to AT&T, away from T-Mobile (but probably on a Nokia phone, not the iPhone — still want a physical keyboard for txt’ing). Heck, it might even get me to switch to Mobile-Me, away from Google Apps.

    • This runs along the lines of the Techchrunch article the other day….
      http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/12/30/large-form-ipod-touch-to-launch-in-fall-09/

      I can’t see them doing a 7-9″ device unless it’s a completely new class of device. Something with an OS somewhere between OSX desktop and OSX ipod/phone and with different design cues to the ipod. An ipod just expanded up to that size would get some fingers pointing at it. I can imagine a stunning mobile HD video device getting some love though!

      Steve

  • I’ll keep it simple:

    I want a thinner (and much less expensive) OQO form factor, running Iphone OS, that has 3G.

    I want one device that:
    iphone, ipod, web access to outlook, onenote, lite version of office, gps, and a 4mp camera with flash.

    I’ll settle for a clamshell version of the ipod + with a physical keyboard.

    • John

      I don’t like the OQO form factor that much. It’s not a good ergonomic form factor for your thumbs, for example.

      I’d rather have something with the Q1 Ultra form factor … except with an actual number row of keys, and maybe with a slightly better button feel (it’s slightly stiff). Apple fans think that’s ugly though.

      But, really, as much as I hate a virtual keyboard, it’d probably be good enough for quick and dirty stuff, and an external keyboard (or attachable keyboard) for when you really need it … the weakness of the iPhone and iTouch is that you _can’t_ use a real keyboard, even if you want to attach an external one. (someone’s working on it, but it currently requires jailbreaking the device)

      You can sort of do that with a modbook, now, but it’s too big, and doesn’t have the finger oriented GUI (ideally, on a netbook or mid-size tablet based OS X system, you’d be able to choose between the two UI’s).

      Next best would be a convertible tablet.

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  • Rex thinks 13″ http://is.gd/okIi I think 5″ http://is.gd/b8TB How big do you think the next ipod touch will be?

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  • @balazsgal @c_davies Heres my tech thougts that would match with that pic if it were a slightly smaller device. http://bit.ly/iuvJJ

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  • Where To Sell Gold?

    does anybody know a legit website to auction off my precious metal … these people? Selling Gold

  • http://www.kitco.com is the best source of bullion cost info, but some local coin dealers (listed within the phone book or on-line) will pay a bit a lot more for them (and will teach you more about them).

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