Apple's iPod nano shenanigans

Apple's iPod nano shenanigans

Summary: Something's going on with the iPod nano and I can't put my finger on it. It's almost too lame to be an Apple product. Could it be a smokescreen to divert attention away from another product?

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
Shenanogans - Jason O'Grady

Lost in the hype of the iPhone 5 announcement was a less memorable product, the new seventh-generation iPod nano.

Unlike the big star of the event, the new iPod nano is a nothing upgrade to a dead-end product. It doesn't have iOS, apps or WiFi, so there's no way to consume music from the cloud (Spotify, Pandora, Sirius, YouTube, etc.) The only music supported on the iPod nano is whatever you sync from iTunes -- via a cable, no less. Which is Lame.

The Verge's Nilay Patel called it "an impulse buy holiday present that almost makes it seem like you care about the recipient."

Unlike the iPhone and the iPod touch, the iPod nano is a product looking for a problem to solve. Someone looking for an inexpensive music player, could easily pick up a $49 iPod shuffle instead.

Patel put it even more succinctly when he said that "anyone thinking about spending $149 on the iPod nano should tap-dance on street corners until they make the extra $50 it takes to buy the entry-level iPod touch instead."

(Patel got the price wrong, the entry-level iPod touch costs $150 more.)

I'm also a little bitter about the 7th-gen iPod nano because it completely killed the growing and fun iPod-watch industry.

There are two potential reasons why Apple eliminated the square iPod nano form-factor:

1) It cares more about selling (and renting) movies that it does about giving you the time of day, or...

2) Apple's building its own iWatch and doesn't want to compete against itself. 

The latter is a conspiracy theory raised by gdgt's Peter Rojas that I happen to like. Maybe it's just wishful thinking? 

It's easy to imagine all the things that an iWatch could do: it'd be the perfect accessory for an iPhone or iPad. Bluetooth 4.0 could make it a satellite screen for your larger iOS device (which could stay in your pocket or bag) while it displayed things like Tweets, Facebook posts, text messages, emails or the currently playing track. If Apple sold it for $99 (granted, a long shot) it would sell one with every iPhone and iPad sold.

Apple's already innovated the hell out of the palm, now it's time to tackle the wrist.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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  • Fidgeting

    The Nano has always been fidgeted with - different form factors, curved screens, video cameras etc.

    I think they haven't really known ever what to do with it. People who exercise at the gym use the shuffle, because of the built in clip. Others use the Touch. The nano never really seemed to fit in except for the last one which could be worn as a watch. The fact that they acknowledged that in one of their keynotes and even released extra watch faces for it shows they weren't oblivious to what was making it popular. It's kind of ended up looking a bit like an mp3 player from a cut-price own brand company.
  • Nobody Buys Dedicated Media Players Any More

    People use their smartphones to play their media now. This is why Android phones with HD-capable screens are so popular. Apple has been caught completely flat-footed by the death of the dedicated-media-player market, as well as by the shift in usage of smartphones.

    And this just throws into sharper relief the irritating restrictions of Itunes not letting you freely move media between devices.
    • people who...

      Run/Jog and goes to the Gym buys dedicated players AFAIK...
      • people who...

        Do that with a smartphone. Why carry 2 devices when you only need 1?
        • becuase...

          because the dedicated players are smaller, lighter, can usually take a better beating and have better battery life, plus the relief of being "unreachable" for a good hour or 2 :)
      • hey flash

        They buy them because the iphones are bricks and its annoying to wear it around your arm. You have to admit that the nano being slaved to itunes is LAME.
      • Or for the kids who's parents won't buy them an iPhone

        or something small to take to the beach.
        William Farrel
    • I'm not sure that is entirely true

      Nobody is buying a media player that just plays media - that much is true. But the iPod touch is still popular. Basically because it is an iPhone without a data plan, which may make sense to people getting by on the cheap with a feature phone, but who still wants iPhone capabilities on something smaller than an iPad.

      Plus Apple is promoting the touch as a camera, to boot.
    • Huh?

      "Apple has been caught completely flat-footed by the death of the dedicated-media-player market"

      Couldn't be more wrong! There was no other company more prepared than Apple. Actually you could argue that Apple's popular iPhone had a large part in the slowing of sales of dedicated music players in the market. Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007 as a true "convergence" device: A phone, iPod and internet device in your pockets.

      The idea then was you no longer needed 3 separate dedicated devices, when you could buy one ultimate smart phone (iPhone). Apple knew they would be cannibalizing some sales of the iPods when they introduced the iPhones in 2007. The company even admitted such back in 2009 at an earnings call - “We expect our traditional MP3 players to decline over time,” Oppenheimer said during Tuesday’s earnings report conference call, “as we cannibalize ourselves with the iPod touch and the iPhone.”

      So Apple did not get caught flat footed, it was quite the opposite actually. They were ahead of the market in introducing not only the iPhone which they knew was going to cannibalize some sale of the iPods (convergence device) but they also released another popular transitional device, the iPod Touch a few months later. The [iPod] Touch quickly became the best selling iPod.
      • I still remember the iPod touch announcement. It came a few days

        after everyone was wetting themselves over the Zune and how it's interface blew away the iPod. Then the iPod touch came out and the Zune looked like last year's garage sale and everyone said "Never mind."
      • Exactly!

        If anything, Apple precipitated the death of the dedicated media player, by making the iPhone the best of both. I had a premium WinMo product when the original iPhone was released, and can tell you EASILY that as a PMP it STANK. ODIOUSLY! Many or most others were just as awful, and iPod was still the premiere PMP. Now most if not all smartphones are excellent PMP devices, and its refinement that sets them apart.
  • I wondered if it is for Gym users?

    I kind of thought it might just be those who want an iPod for the gym and want the Nike+ features?

    It's possibly just maintaining those users?

    I'd be borderline about buying one if I felt nervous about using my iPhone during workouts, but had the cash to spare. I guess I am borderline except for the cash.

    I can only assume the cable sync is a cost question, considering their intent to go wireless.

    Or maybe it's for kids?

    Sometimes having the screen is better than not. A button only interface is not right for everyone.

    So yeah I don't quite know except there is probably a user base out there, and the line may not be dead yet.

    The iPod Nano has always looked a bit misplaced to many of us but it must have been selling.
    • Most probably

      I really like the new nano for it's bluetooth capacity which would make it a dream for using BT headphones while exercising. And yeah I'm a nike+ user. Nifty, clean and practical. Although I also think that an iWatch with bluetooth would've been a killer for anyone. In the mean time... perhaps I'll change my ye olde ipod 2nd gen for this one ... I hate the cable of my headphones.
  • Get a girlfriend!

    You are one angry and frustrated dude. Why do you get your panties in such a wad about things like this. If you dont like it, dont buy it. Someone else will. Did you sell some Apple stock and now your regretting it because its gone through the roof, and all you have now is this little rag ranting about how Apple suck for all the little reasons no one cares about?

    • Who's angry?

      Just one man's opinion my friend! You have opinions, I have opinions. It sounds a little like you're angry that min don't match with yours. But seriously, "get a girlfriend?" Inside of making a childish remark, why couldn't you have have made some salient points *for* the iPod nano like the poster above did? (i.e. great for the gym/working out, kids, etc.) Instead you use unprofessional invectives? Sounds like trolling to me. (and by the way, your Apple badge is showing)

      Jason D. O'Grady
  • It's Actually Spelled "Shenanigans"...

    Close, though.

    Misspellings aside, this might be the ugliest thing to come out of Cupertino in, well, ever. The circle icons are horribly out-dated and as someone else said, this looks like a knockoff or cheap MP3 player from some Chinese house-brand. If they were just trying to get the Lightning connector out there, they could have left the Nano the same and added in the connector. Then put in a Wifi chip for syncing music OTA. No one wants to watch movies or play games on a 2" screen so an App store would have been useless. I guess you could get dedicated Nano weather apps, etc. but really, it's a music player.

    The form factor doesn't bother me as much as the colors and the lame display with the round icons. It doesn't look like an Apple Device. I expected metal and glass. Grays and whites. Not early 90's pastels and rounded early-2000 Sony-esque icons.

    If they are preparing for an iWatch, they should have just left the Nano alone. But instead, they killed off an entire market for watch bands, etc. The good thing is, I'll probably be able to get one extremely cheaply now. My only reservations before were pricing. I should be able to pick up a Nano at Christmastime for under $100 and a watch band even less than that. SCORE!

    Still, I have to say that this one was poorly done, Apple.
    • Intentional misspelling

      For the record, I intentionally misspelled "shenanogans."
      Read it again to see if you can figure out why.

      Jason D. O'Grady
      • Who is this idiot?

        If you intentionally misspelled "shenanogans", why did you change it to the correct spelling?
        Did you read your own article again and couldn't justify your intentions?

        If you can't spell and can't use a spell-check, you shouldn't write articles.

        Now go ahead and post your defensive, arrogant response to my comment...
        • An editor at ZDNet did that!

          Wow. What vitriol and hate.
          Seriously?! Over a headline?

          An editor here at ZDNET changed my headline to "Apple iPod Shenanogans" (the 'Apple iPod' part was added for clarity), then his spell checker changed it to Shenanigans. Then I changed it back. Do you really think that there's some sort of a conspiracy here? Honestly?

          You're claiming that I made a typo, ignored the giant red line under it, and fabricated a story that I was trying to use the word "nano" in the headline to justify a typo?

          ROTFL! (That's a good one!)

          You are a textbook troll my friend!

          Jason D. O'Grady
          • Ok, back to the "regular" spelling

            After great debate with the ZDNET Editors we determined that the correct spelling of "Shenanigans" was in order. (Apparently my attempt at humor was lost on them too!) Anyhoo, there it's back to regular-ole' English.

            - Jason
            Jason D. O'Grady