The iPod, in all its aliases such as nano, and the shuffle are practically antiques. Functionally, it's really just a personal stereo, which was originally patented by Srirekam Jayram Purushotam in 1974. It first reached true commercial success with the electronics giant Sony in 1979 when they sold their first Walkman model called the Soundabout. The iPod is still filling the same need, but using newer technology to do it better. Many of today's generation of clones marching around with white ear buds growing out of their ears, have probably never heard of a Walkman. Much in the same way the next batch will have no idea what the heck an iPod is.
There is technology just waiting in the wings which will replace the iPod as we know it. The iPod (and most mp3 players) markets, and differentiates its line of products by capacity. All the models really do the same thing, with the same set of controls. The biggest difference between them and the biggest factor determining price, is the capacity of the drives inside them. The second differentiating factor is of course the color. Kind of hard to charge more for blue or pink though. Anyway, there will come a time, when actually having a drive in your mp3 player or iPod will not be necessary. It really doesn't make sense. It makes the unit bigger, and drives the price up. Those little drives are far more expensive than comparable drives for bigger machines. Carrying your entire song collection on your person is kind of risky as well. What happens when Uncle Bob thinks its funny to pick you up and throw you into his new pool? Ooops, is that your 80Gb iPod with 20,000 of your favorite being sucked towards the pool drain? You've got that thing backed up right? Ha!
The answer is of course to store your entire song/picture collection on a server somewhere with proper data protection and backup facilities. Then all you need is a network ready receiver about half the size of a iPod nano with the ability to access your music off that protected server wherever you are. Capacity becomes meaningless. Running out of disk space on a current iPod / mp3 player means either deleting songs (are you nuts!) or buying a new player. Great for the manufacturer, but not so much for the consumer. The different pieces of technologies are there, it's just a question of someone putting it all together, and marketing it to the masses.
I think, maybe I'll just hold on to my old cassette Walkman, for a little longer. The next really great personal stereo for me is just around the next corner.
By: Chris Campbell
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