Apple iPod line launch 08/09, September 2008, San Francisco

We live in times of chaos and unpredictability. Financial crises, fluctuations in exchange rates, armed conflicts... All the more valuable for us are the islands of stability still preserved in this crazy world. So, in particular, doesn't it warm the soul to know that, no matter what happens, in September, the CEO of Apple Inc. Steven Paul Jobs will take the stage at the San Francisco convention center to announce the launch of the new (of course, the best in the company's history) iPods?

From top to bottom - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 (photo from engadget.com)

Against a huge presentation screen in front of the cream of the offline and online press, he will show off impressive numbers, lightly kick competitors and talk about new products and services in a light playful way.

Nerds can complain that for three years now, nothing revolutionary has been shown at these events.

They say, yes, in 2007 we were shown the iPod touch, but who could be surprised by this iPhone without Phone two months after the start of sales of its phone version? Or nano with video support in the same year - how many players with this capability have we already seen since the year 2005? Not to mention the announcement in 2006, which brought nothing but slight design changes.

And this time we suffered another disappointment: Moore's law for flash memory stopped working, we did not see a doubling of storage capacity.

iPod nano (top) and iPod touch (bottom) offerings, not including the unofficial 4 GB version of the nano in some markets

There were no 64 GB players from other manufacturers either. But the law continues to work "If something decreases somewhere, then it will certainly increase elsewhere." And we know where the high-capacity flash memory chips have "leaked" - to the SSD.

But let's not be so boring and appreciate not a revolution, but an evolution in the latest presentation of Apple, held on September 9 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. I will start with the most interesting, in my opinion, things, gradually moving on to less significant ones.

Since we are talking about stability and predictability, we must definitely remember such a vivid example of this as the release of new versions of iTunes.

If for some reason you forgot what year it is, just download the latest iTunes, add two thousand to its current version number, and you will get a result close enough to the truth. Available to the public since September 9, the eighth version, in addition to the inevitable and also already traditional glitches and BSODs for some users, also brought curious new features that are worth dwelling on in more detail.

Somewhere this summer on the pages of mobile-review.com, I dwelled on the topic of online music recommendation services and their importance in the development of the music market. Internet music, I reasoned, had already offered to replace all components of the traditional music market: online stores and P2P networks had replaced CD points of sale, MP3 players had consigned their cassette and CD predecessors to oblivion. Now, in order to develop further, you need to offer something new, for example, new, more effective ways to find music.

Apple, obviously, agrees with me and, as usual, with a delay of several years (about seven this time), released its recommendation engine with the modest name Genius (however, in Russia this word is more associated with a budget brand accessories).

In my reasoning, I classified such services into expert ones, where the characteristics of the musical material are at the forefront, and into social ones, where everything revolves around the individual tastes of listeners. Genius is closer to the second group and belongs to a specific variety, the beginnings of which can be seen on the pages of online stores. Do you remember the section “Buy with this product often”? With an online store of 8.5 million audio tracks, a history of tens of millions of registered active buyers who have bought 5 billion tracks in the last 5 years, not to mention hundreds of millions of iTunes installed on PCs worldwide, it's a sin do not use such a base for recommendation purposes. This is a unique asset for Apple, allowing the company to skip the difficult initial stage of accumulating a base, which is typical for other recommender systems.

Genius, with a logo that personally evokes nostalgic memories for me of the symbols used in the Soviet Union to denote scientific progress, the success of the peaceful atom, etc., performs two main functions.

First, it searches your music library for music that matches well with some source track you specify. This can be useful if you store many tens of gigabytes of music, have long forgotten what, in fact, you pumped there, and most of you have never listened to in your life. Secondly, the Genius sidebar searches the entire iTunes Store catalog for tracks that match your chosen composition and recommends them to you. This is already useful for Apple, as it should stimulate new purchases. However, no one bothers to get recommendations and then download the recommended tracks from somewhere for free. True, for the "genius" to work, you need an account in the iTunes Store.

Rating recommendation services is difficult. Whether the advice of Genius is better or worse than those of Pandora (which, by the way, the US Senate recently saved from ruin by record companies) or Last.fm, everyone must understand for himself, this is extremely subjective. In any case, the very fact of the appearance of such a service is already an indicator of at least some movement of the company forward. In addition, this will draw people's attention to such services by themselves, because, as you know, Apple will not advise bad things (not counting a number of products that failed at the time).

The next interesting thing is the development of the partnership between Apple and Nike.

An American sportswear supplier, to his credit, understood the importance of MP3 players for amateur sports very early on. Not afraid of shaking and bumps (well, not very strong ones), these are excellent companions that will not let you get bored when jogging or exercising on the simulators. Over the past seven years, Nike has changed more than one partner in the search for its ideal player manufacturer, until it finally calmed down in the arms of the Cupertino company.

No. 1 in the sports shoe market in the US and No. 1 in local MP3 players - it's hard to find a more harmonious pair. True, unlike Nike's previous partners, Apple does not accept double surnames - no logo, except for the iPod, will appear on the body of its players. Instead, a new accessory was released: the Nike + iPod Sports Kit.

This set consisted of a pedometer in the form of a piezoelectric accelerometer built into the sole of a sneaker, and a receiver that connects to the player and receives information from the pedometer wirelessly.

It was announced for the second generation nano in 2006, of course, during the traditional presentation in September.

Two years later, the Nike + iPod Sports Kit has blown the dust and announced support for the accessory on the iPod touch.

Highlight - the receiver is now built into the player Toyota, which is of course much more convenient.

The concept and functionality of the Nike + iPod Sports Kit is interesting and worthy of detailed consideration. It's not clear why other manufacturers of MP3 players or music cell phones don't respond to this. Other players and phones with accelerometers, calorie counters, etc. are present in the market, but why not, for example, Nokia partner with Adidas to promote such offerings? After all, this is a rather large and quite interesting market with a potential entry into the most powerful advertising and PR tools of the sports industry.

In addition to integrating with the Nike + iPod Sports Kit, the second-generation iPod touch received a few cosmetic changes, such as slimming down, volume controls, and a built-in speaker.

The most important changes are inside: with the new firmware, the device now has access to the Appstore.

Emphasis is important here. Jobs focused specifically on one particular type of application: games. A number was mentioned (the head of Apple is generally very fond of numbers at presentations): 700 games available through the Appstore right now. Nothing was said about their quality and originality, except that among them there are supposedly masterpieces.

Again, just like during the iPhone 3G summer presentation, we talked about Spore. Let me remind you that a seriously truncated (only the first, “single-celled” phase of development is available) version of it, Spore Origins, has been released for the iPhone (as well as for many other mobile phones and smartphones).

The fact that the "large" version of this game met with a rather mixed reception and a lot of criticism, of course, was not remembered. In addition to Spore Origins, the audience was shown football, Real Soccer 2009 and racing, Need for Speed.

The graphics quality of the last two was at a high level, bringing to mind the words of the head of ID Software, John Carmack, that the iPhone / iPod touch is more powerful than the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS combined. The latter two, by the way, Jobs publicly challenged from the stage, calling the iPod touch "the best portable device for games."

iPod touch, Nintendo DSi, Sony PSP-3000 (collage from joystiq.com)

Although in games, especially portable games, graphics are far from everything. Otherwise, the DS would not have overtaken the PSP in sales almost twice. The library of games is important, Apple is working on this, gathering major American and Japanese developers under its banner.

The latter cannot but be interested in the wide coverage of the iPhone/iPod touch, especially in the US, which means millions of devices and millions of customers. The game demos with complex 3D graphics are a testament to the company's desire to elevate its offer above the typical "phone games", countless tetris, bejeweled, sudoku.

Games are also extremely important control, and here, Apple products, like any universal device, have problems. The proposed "innovative" tilt control of the player's body does not look ergonomic, especially when playing for a long time - you are tormented to turn the player in your hands and look at the darting screen. Using the on-screen keys is also not the best solution due to the lack of tactile feedback, which is so important with the often purely reflex control movements in games. This casts doubt on the prospects of Apple products in serious mobile gaming, no matter how many sing-alongs may declare them to be the "killers" of the PSP, DS and Wii combined. Although, of course, people will download iPhone/iPod touch games and play them.

You can't get past the nano update, which changed the fourth generation. In the summer, there were rumors that the novelty would acquire a touch screen (it should have turned out something like the Samsung P2), and this would be the end of the Click-wheel. We did not see anything like this, the changes turned out to be much more modest.

Apple has ditched the questionable "pot-bellied" design of the previous generation and returned to slender forms, while retaining the 2-inch QVGA display.

To do this, she had to make a mini-revolution and finally turn the display 90 degrees.

I personally applaud this with all my heart, always saying that the ideal for portable media players is lists in portrait mode, videos and photos (and Cover Flow on iPods) in landscape.

That's what we got, complete with an accelerometer that switches the display from portrait mode to landscape mode automatically. We've already seen this with the iPhone and iPod touch, and now the technology has moved into the mid-price segment. The accelerometer is also used for other functions, for example, for playing a random track (Shuffle) when the player is shaken.

Although the shapes of the new nano are familiar to us, the player is much sleeker than its predecessors and looks more expensive. It became even thinner, received an oval profile, mineral glass is used, when creating the new product, Apple obviously tried, first of all, to make a beautiful accessory.

An abundance of colors speaks in favor of this.

Apple is not the first to offer customers a wide choice of colors (below is the Creative Zen Micro rainbow and the Toshiba Gigabeat U100 color madness), but it does it more gracefully

Non-budget materials and design in the middle price segment - competitors will have something to think about when planning future product lines.

It is also curious that for the second year in a row, the design of the new nano pops up a couple of weeks before the presentation in the form of "spy" photos.

What's left? The rest is nonsense. Two versions of the latest Mohican HDD iPod Classic have merged into one, 120 GB, $250 price tag and thin body left over from the younger model.

For the first time, Apple is not using the largest available capacity of 1.8-inch HDD, which today reaches 250 gigabytes.

They will also obviously go into ultra-compact laptops. Alas, today they are in vogue, and they get all the most delicious, while MP3 players have become commonplace and are content with what is left.

You can look at the new earbuds, their $79 price tag should lower the price bar for balanced armature products.

News like the return of NBC and its TV shows in the iTunes Store are of little interest to us.

One can only guess who ended up caved in lower. TV shows now range from 99 cents to $3 depending on demand and quality (SD/HD), which is what NBC is rumored to want. Apple denies the “deflection”, stating that this kind of variable pricing is common practice for it. Most likely, there was a compromise.

The fact that Apple is trying to make its video section of the iTunes store more interesting (the return of NBC, the offer of video in HD resolution) is quite predictable. The competition is ever-increasing, see Sony (PlayStation Video Store), Microsoft (Netflix video streaming on Xbox 360). It is obvious that here the company will not succeed in an easy victory, as with music.

That, in general, and all that the iPod will live next year. Apple's line of media players continues to be the strongest offering for those who are willing to live in the iTunes ecosystem, the system itself has found new opportunities. Models like the iPod Classic and iPod touch are still unmatched on the market (Zune 120 US-only doesn't count). The new nano is a strong offering in the mid-range segment, large display + glass + slim body + "magic" accelerometer can't help but hook the audience, it's a stronger incentive to upgrade your nano compared to the third generation.

As Chinese OEMs leave the market - and they are fleeing MP3 like rats from a sinking ship - Apple (and other branded manufacturers) will increase the share of Apple (and other branded manufacturers), which can lead to an increase in iPod sales even in a stagnant player market. Obviously, although Apple does not intend to invest significant resources in the development of the iPod, the brand will be kept afloat, after all, as long as it is the only Apple brand with a significant global market share, a symbol of the company's success in the era of the second coming of Steven Jobs.

Apple iPod line launch 08/09, September 2008, San Francisco

We live in times of chaos and unpredictability. Financial crises, fluctuations in exchange rates, armed conflicts... All the more valuable for us are the islands of stability still preserved in this crazy world. So, in particular, doesn't it warm the soul to know that, no matter what happens, in September, the CEO of Apple Inc. Steven Paul Jobs will take the stage at the San Francisco convention center to announce the launch of the new (of course, the best in the company's history) iPods?

From top to bottom - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 (photo from engadget.com)

Against a huge presentation screen in front of the cream of the offline and online press, he will show off impressive numbers, lightly kick competitors and talk about new products and services in a light playful way.

Nerds can complain that for three years now, nothing revolutionary has been shown at these events.

They say, yes, in 2007 we were shown the iPod touch, but who could be surprised by this iPhone without Phone two months after the start of sales of its phone version? Or nano with video support in the same year - how many players with this capability have we already seen since the year 2005? Not to mention the announcement in 2006, which brought nothing but slight design changes.

And this time we suffered another disappointment: Moore's law for flash memory stopped working, we did not see a doubling of storage capacity.

iPod nano (top) and iPod touch (bottom) offerings, not including the unofficial 4 GB version of the nano in some markets

There were no 64 GB players from other manufacturers either. But the law continues to work "If something decreases somewhere, then it will certainly increase elsewhere." And we know where the high-capacity flash memory chips have "leaked" - to the SSD.

But let's not be so boring and appreciate not a revolution, but an evolution in the latest presentation of Apple, held on September 9 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. I will start with the most interesting, in my opinion, things, gradually moving on to less significant ones.

Since we are talking about stability and predictability, we must definitely remember such a vivid example of this as the release of new versions of iTunes.

If for some reason you forgot what year it is, just download the latest iTunes, add two thousand to its current version number, and you will get a result close enough to the truth. Available to the public since September 9, the eighth version, in addition to the inevitable and also already traditional glitches and BSODs for some users, also brought curious new features that are worth dwelling on in more detail.

Somewhere this summer on the pages of mobile-review.com, I dwelled on the topic of online music recommendation services and their importance in the development of the music market. Internet music, I reasoned, had already offered to replace all components of the traditional music market: online stores and P2P networks had replaced CD points of sale, MP3 players had consigned their cassette and CD predecessors to oblivion. Now, in order to develop further, you need to offer something new, for example, new, more effective ways to find music.

Apple, obviously, agrees with me and, as usual, with a delay of several years (about seven this time), released its recommendation engine with the modest name Genius (however, in Russia this word is more associated with a budget brand accessories).

In my reasoning, I classified such services into expert ones, where the characteristics of the musical material are at the forefront, and into social ones, where everything revolves around the individual tastes of listeners. Genius is closer to the second group and belongs to a specific variety, the beginnings of which can be seen on the pages of online stores. Do you remember the section “Buy with this product often”? With an online store of 8.5 million audio tracks, a history of tens of millions of registered active buyers who have bought 5 billion tracks in the last 5 years, not to mention hundreds of millions of iTunes installed on PCs worldwide, it's a sin do not use such a base for recommendation purposes. This is a unique asset for Apple, allowing the company to skip the difficult initial stage of accumulating a base, which is typical for other recommender systems.

Genius, with a logo that personally evokes nostalgic memories for me of the symbols used in the Soviet Union to denote scientific progress, the success of the peaceful atom, etc., performs two main functions.

First, it searches your music library for music that matches well with some source track you specify. This can be useful if you store many tens of gigabytes of music, have long forgotten what, in fact, you pumped there, and most of you have never listened to in your life. Secondly, the Genius sidebar searches the entire iTunes Store catalog for tracks that match your chosen composition and recommends them to you. This is already useful for Apple, as it should stimulate new purchases. However, no one bothers to get recommendations and then download the recommended tracks from somewhere for free. True, for the "genius" to work, you need an account in the iTunes Store.

Rating recommendation services is difficult. Whether the advice of Genius is better or worse than those of Pandora (which, by the way, the US Senate recently saved from ruin by record companies) or Last.fm, everyone must understand for himself, this is extremely subjective. In any case, the very fact of the appearance of such a service is already an indicator of at least some movement of the company forward. In addition, this will draw people's attention to such services by themselves, because, as you know, Apple will not advise bad things (not counting a number of products that failed at the time).

The next interesting thing is the development of the partnership between Apple and Nike.

An American sportswear supplier, to his credit, understood the importance of MP3 players for amateur sports very early on. Not afraid of shaking and bumps (well, not very strong ones), these are excellent companions that will not let you get bored when jogging or exercising on the simulators. Over the past seven years, Nike has changed more than one partner in the search for its ideal player manufacturer, until it finally calmed down in the arms of the Cupertino company.

No. 1 in the sports shoe market in the US and No. 1 in local MP3 players - it's hard to find a more harmonious pair. True, unlike Nike's previous partners, Apple does not accept double surnames - no logo, except for the iPod, will appear on the body of its players. Instead, a new accessory was released: the Nike + iPod Sports Kit.

This set consisted of a pedometer in the form of a piezoelectric accelerometer built into the sole of a sneaker, and a receiver that connects to the player and receives information from the pedometer wirelessly.

It was announced for the second generation nano in 2006, of course, during the traditional presentation in September.

Two years later, the Nike + iPod Sports Kit has blown the dust and announced support for the accessory on the iPod touch.

Highlight - the receiver is now built into the player Toyota, which is of course much more convenient.

The concept and functionality of the Nike + iPod Sports Kit is interesting and worthy of detailed consideration. It's not clear why other manufacturers of MP3 players or music cell phones don't respond to this. Other players and phones with accelerometers, calorie counters, etc. are present in the market, but why not, for example, Nokia partner with Adidas to promote such offerings? After all, this is a rather large and quite interesting market with a potential entry into the most powerful advertising and PR tools of the sports industry.

In addition to integrating with the Nike + iPod Sports Kit, the second-generation iPod touch received a few cosmetic changes, including a thinner, volume control, and a built-in speaker.

The most important changes are inside: with the new firmware, the device now has access to the Appstore.

Emphasis is important here. Jobs focused specifically on one particular type of application: games. A number was mentioned (the head of Apple is generally very fond of numbers at presentations): 700 games available through the Appstore right now. Nothing was said about their quality and originality, except that among them there are supposedly masterpieces.

Again, just like during the iPhone 3G summer presentation, we talked about Spore. Let me remind you that a seriously truncated (only the first, “single-celled” phase of development is available) version of it, Spore Origins, has been released for the iPhone (as well as for many other mobile phones and smartphones).

The fact that the "large" version of this game met with a rather mixed reception and a lot of criticism, of course, was not remembered. In addition to Spore Origins, the audience was shown football, Real Soccer 2009 and racing, Need for Speed.

The graphics quality of the last two was at a high level, bringing to mind the words of the head of ID Software, John Carmack, that the iPhone / iPod touch is more powerful than the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS combined. The latter two, by the way, Jobs publicly challenged from the stage, calling the iPod touch "the best portable device for games."

iPod touch, Nintendo DSi, Sony PSP-3000 (collage from joystiq.com)

Although in games, especially portable games, graphics are far from everything. Otherwise, the DS would not have overtaken the PSP in sales almost twice. The library of games is important, Apple is working on this, gathering major American and Japanese developers under its banner.

The latter cannot but be interested in the wide coverage of the iPhone/iPod touch, especially in the US, which means millions of devices and millions of customers. The game demos with complex 3D graphics are a testament to the company's desire to elevate its offer above the typical "phone games", countless tetris, bejeweled, sudoku.

Games are also extremely important control, and here, Apple products, like any universal device, have problems. The proposed "innovative" tilt control of the player's body does not look ergonomic, especially when playing for a long time - you are tormented to turn the player in your hands and look at the darting screen. Using the on-screen keys is also not the best solution due to the lack of tactile feedback, which is so important with the often purely reflex control movements in games. This casts doubt on the prospects of Apple products in serious mobile gaming, no matter how many sing-alongs may declare them to be the "killers" of the PSP, DS and Wii combined. Although, of course, people will download iPhone/iPod touch games and play them.

You can't get past the nano update, which changed the fourth generation. In the summer, there were rumors that the novelty would acquire a touch screen (it should have turned out something like the Samsung P2), and this would be the end of the Click-wheel. We did not see anything like this, the changes turned out to be much more modest.

Apple ditched the questionable "bellied" design of the previous generation and returned to slender forms, while retaining the 2-inch QVGA display.

To do this, she had to make a mini-revolution and finally turn the display 90 degrees.

I personally applaud this with all my heart, always saying that the ideal for portable media players is lists in portrait mode, videos and photos (and Cover Flow on iPods) in landscape.

That's what we got, complete with an accelerometer that switches the display from portrait mode to landscape automatically. We've already seen it in the iPhone and iPod touch, and now the technology has moved into the mid-price segment. The accelerometer is also used for other functions, for example, for playing a random track (Shuffle) when shaking the player.

Although the shapes of the new nano are familiar to us, the player is much sleeker than its predecessors and looks more expensive. It became even thinner, received an oval profile, mineral glass is used, when creating the new product, Apple obviously tried, first of all, to make a beautiful accessory.

An abundance of colors speaks in favor of this.

Apple is not the first to offer customers a wide choice of colors (below is the Creative Zen Micro rainbow and the Toshiba Gigabeat U100 color madness), but it does it more gracefully

Non-budget materials and design in the middle price segment - competitors will have something to think about when planning future product lines.

It is also curious that for the second year in a row, the design of the new nano pops up a couple of weeks before the presentation in the form of "spy" photos.

What's left? The rest is nonsense. Two versions of the latest Mohican HDD iPod Classic have merged into one, 120 GB, $250 price tag and thin body left over from the younger model.

For the first time, Apple is not using the largest available capacity of 1.8-inch HDD, which today reaches 250 gigabytes.

They will also obviously go into ultra-compact laptops. Alas, today they are in vogue, and they get all the most delicious, while MP3 players have become commonplace and are content with what is left.

You can look at the new earbuds, their $79 price tag should lower the price bar for balanced armature products.

News like the return of NBC and its TV shows in the iTunes Store are of little interest to us.

One can only guess who ended up caved in lower. TV shows now range from 99 cents to $3 depending on demand and quality (SD/HD), which is what NBC is rumored to want. Apple denies the “deflection”, stating that this kind of variable pricing is common practice for it. Most likely, there was a compromise.

The fact that Apple is trying to make its video section of the iTunes store more interesting (the return of NBC, the offer of video in HD resolution) is quite predictable. The competition is ever-increasing, see Sony (PlayStation Video Store), Microsoft (Netflix video streaming on Xbox 360). It is obvious that here the company will not succeed in an easy victory, as with music.

That, in general, and all that the iPod will live next year. Apple's line of media players continues to be the strongest offering for those who are willing to live in the iTunes ecosystem, the system itself has found new opportunities. Models like the iPod Classic and iPod touch are still unmatched on the market (Zune 120 US-only doesn't count). The new nano is a strong offering in the mid-range segment, large display + glass + slim body + "magic" accelerometer can't help but hook the audience, it's a stronger incentive to upgrade your nano compared to the third generation.

As Chinese OEMs leave the market - and they are fleeing MP3s like rats from a sinking ship - Apple (and other branded manufacturers) will grow in share, which could lead to an increase in iPod sales even in a stagnant player market. Obviously, although Apple does not intend to invest significant resources in the development of the iPod, the brand will be kept afloat, after all, as long as it is the only Apple brand with a significant global market share, a symbol of the company's success in the era of the second coming of Steven Jobs.

Apple iPod line launch 08/09, September 2008, San Francisco

We live in times of chaos and unpredictability. Financial crises, fluctuations in exchange rates, armed conflicts... All the more valuable for us are the islands of stability still preserved in this crazy world. So, in particular, doesn't it warm the soul to know that, no matter what happens, in September, the CEO of Apple Inc. Steven Paul Jobs will take the stage at the San Francisco convention center to announce the launch of the new (of course, the best in the company's history) iPods?

From top to bottom - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 (photo from engadget.com)

Against a huge presentation screen in front of the cream of the offline and online press, he will show off impressive numbers, lightly kick competitors and talk about new products and services in a light playful way.

Nerds can complain that for three years now, nothing revolutionary has been shown at these events.

They say, yes, in 2007 we were shown the iPod touch, but who could be surprised by this iPhone without Phone two months after the start of sales of its phone version? Or nano with video support in the same year - how many players with this capability have we already seen since the year 2005? Not to mention the announcement in 2006, which brought nothing but slight design changes.

And this time we suffered another disappointment: Moore's law for flash memory stopped working, we did not see a doubling of storage capacity.

iPod nano (top) and iPod touch (bottom) offerings, not including the unofficial 4 GB version of the nano in some markets

There were no 64 GB players from other manufacturers either. But the law continues to work "If something decreases somewhere, then it will certainly increase elsewhere." And we know where the high-capacity flash memory chips have "leaked" - to the SSD.

But let's not be so boring and appreciate not a revolution, but an evolution in the latest presentation of Apple, held on September 9 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. I will start with the most interesting, in my opinion, things, gradually moving on to less significant ones.

Since we are talking about stability and predictability, we must definitely remember such a vivid example of this as the release of new versions of iTunes.

If for some reason you forgot what year it is, just download the latest iTunes, add two thousand to its current version number, and you will get a result close enough to the truth. Available to the public since September 9, the eighth version, in addition to the inevitable and also already traditional glitches and BSODs for some users, also brought curious new features that are worth dwelling on in more detail.

Somewhere this summer on the pages of mobile-review.com, I dwelled on the topic of online music recommendation services and their importance in the development of the music market. Internet music, I reasoned, had already offered to replace all components of the traditional music market: online stores and P2P networks had replaced CD points of sale, MP3 players had consigned their cassette and CD predecessors to oblivion. Now, in order to develop further, you need to offer something new, for example, new, more effective ways to find music.

Apple, obviously, agrees with me and, as usual, with a delay of several years (about seven this time), released its recommendation engine with the modest name Genius (however, in Russia this word is more associated with a budget brand accessories).

In my reasoning, I classified such services into expert ones, where the characteristics of the musical material are at the forefront, and into social ones, where everything revolves around the individual tastes of listeners. Genius is closer to the second group and belongs to a specific variety, the beginnings of which can be seen on the pages of online stores. Do you remember the section “Buy with this product often”? With an online store of 8.5 million audio tracks, a history of tens of millions of registered active buyers who have bought 5 billion tracks in the last 5 years, not to mention hundreds of millions of iTunes installed on PCs worldwide, it's a sin do not use such a base for recommendation purposes. This is a unique asset for Apple, allowing the company to skip the difficult initial stage of accumulating a base, which is typical for other recommender systems.

Genius, with a logo that personally evokes nostalgic memories for me of the symbols used in the Soviet Union to denote scientific progress, the success of the peaceful atom, etc., performs two main functions.

First, it searches your music library for music that matches well with some source track you specify. This can be useful if you store many tens of gigabytes of music, have long forgotten what, in fact, you pumped there, and most of you have never listened to in your life. Secondly, the Genius sidebar searches the entire iTunes Store catalog for tracks that match your chosen composition and recommends them to you. This is already useful for Apple, as it should stimulate new purchases. However, no one bothers to get recommendations and then download the recommended tracks from somewhere for free. True, for the "genius" to work, you need an account in the iTunes Store.

Rating recommendation services is difficult. Whether the advice of Genius is better or worse than those of Pandora (which, by the way, the US Senate recently saved from ruin by record companies) or Last.fm, everyone must understand for himself, this is extremely subjective. In any case, the very fact of the appearance of such a service is already an indicator of at least some movement of the company forward. In addition, this will draw people's attention to such services by themselves, because, as you know, Apple will not advise bad things (not counting a number of products that failed at the time).

The next interesting thing is the development of the partnership between Apple and Nike.

An American sportswear supplier, to his credit, understood the importance of MP3 players for amateur sports very early on. Not afraid of shaking and bumps (well, not very strong ones), these are excellent companions that will not let you get bored when jogging or exercising on the simulators. Over the past seven years, Nike has changed more than one partner in the search for its ideal player manufacturer, until it finally calmed down in the arms of the Cupertino company.

No. 1 in the sports shoe market in the US and No. 1 in local MP3 players - it's hard to find a more harmonious pair. True, unlike Nike's previous partners, Apple does not accept double surnames - no logo, except for the iPod, will appear on the body of its players. Instead, a new accessory was released: the Nike + iPod Sports Kit.

This set consisted of a pedometer in the form of a piezoelectric accelerometer built into the sole of a sneaker, and a receiver that connects to the player and receives information from the pedometer wirelessly.

It was announced for the second generation nano in 2006, of course, during the traditional presentation in September.

Two years later, the Nike + iPod Sports Kit has blown the dust and announced support for the accessory on the iPod touch.

Highlight - the receiver is now built into the player Toyota, which is of course much more convenient.

The concept and functionality of the Nike + iPod Sports Kit is interesting and worthy of detailed consideration. It's not clear why other manufacturers of MP3 players or music cell phones don't respond to this. Other players and phones with accelerometers, calorie counters, etc. are present in the market, but why not, for example, Nokia partner with Adidas to promote such offerings? After all, this is a rather large and quite interesting market with a potential entry into the most powerful advertising and PR tools of the sports industry.

In addition to integrating with the Nike + iPod Sports Kit, the second-generation iPod touch received a few cosmetic changes, such as slimming down, volume controls, and a built-in speaker.

The most important changes are inside: with the new firmware, the device now has access to the Appstore.

Emphasis is important here. Jobs focused specifically on one particular type of application: games. A number was mentioned (the head of Apple is generally very fond of numbers at presentations): 700 games available through the Appstore right now. Nothing was said about their quality and originality, except that among them there are supposedly masterpieces.

Again, just like during the iPhone 3G summer presentation, we talked about Spore. Let me remind you that a seriously truncated (only the first, “single-celled” phase of development is available) version of it, Spore Origins, has been released for the iPhone (as well as for many other mobile phones and smartphones).

The fact that the "large" version of this game met with a rather mixed reception and a lot of criticism, of course, was not remembered. In addition to Spore Origins, the audience was shown football, Real Soccer 2009 and racing, Need for Speed.

The graphics quality of the last two was at a high level, bringing to mind the words of the head of ID Software, John Carmack, that the iPhone / iPod touch is more powerful than the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS combined. The latter two, by the way, Jobs publicly challenged from the stage, calling the iPod touch "the best portable device for games."

iPod touch, Nintendo DSi, Sony PSP-3000 (collage from joystiq.com)

Although in games, especially portable games, graphics are far from everything. Otherwise, the DS would not have overtaken the PSP in sales almost twice. The library of games is important, Apple is working on this, gathering major American and Japanese developers under its banner.

The latter cannot but be interested in the wide coverage of the iPhone/iPod touch, especially in the US, which means millions of devices and millions of customers. The game demos with complex 3D graphics are a testament to the company's desire to elevate its offer above the typical "phone games", countless tetris, bejeweled, sudoku.

Games are also extremely important control, and here, Apple products, like any universal device, have problems. The proposed "innovative" tilt control of the player's body does not look ergonomic, especially when playing for a long time - you are tormented to turn the player in your hands and look at the darting screen. Using the on-screen keys is also not the best solution due to the lack of tactile feedback, which is so important with the often purely reflex control movements in games. This casts doubt on the prospects of Apple products in serious mobile gaming, no matter how many sing-alongs may declare them to be the "killers" of the PSP, DS and Wii combined. Although, of course, people will download iPhone/iPod touch games and play them.

You can't get past the nano update, which changed the fourth generation. In the summer, there were rumors that the novelty would acquire a touch screen (it should have turned out something like the Samsung P2), and this would be the end of the Click-wheel. We did not see anything like this, the changes turned out to be much more modest.

Apple ditched the questionable "bellied" design of the previous generation and returned to slender forms, while retaining the 2-inch QVGA display.

To do this, she had to make a mini-revolution and finally turn the display 90 degrees.

I personally applaud this with all my heart, always saying that the ideal for portable media players is lists in portrait mode, videos and photos (and Cover Flow on iPods) in landscape.

That's what we got, complete with an accelerometer that switches the display from portrait mode to landscape automatically. We've already seen it in the iPhone and iPod touch, and now the technology has moved into the mid-price segment. The accelerometer is also used for other functions, for example, for playing a random track (Shuffle) when shaking the player.

Although the shapes of the new nano are familiar to us, the player is much sleeker than its predecessors and looks more expensive. It became even thinner, received an oval profile, mineral glass is used, when creating the new product, Apple obviously tried, first of all, to make a beautiful accessory.

An abundance of colors speaks in favor of this.

Apple is not the first to offer customers a wide choice of colors (below is the Creative Zen Micro rainbow and the Toshiba Gigabeat U100 color madness), but it does it more gracefully

Non-budget materials and design in the middle price segment - competitors will have something to think about when planning future product lines.

It is also curious that for the second year in a row, the design of the new nano pops up a couple of weeks before the presentation in the form of "spy" photos.

What's left? The rest is nonsense. Two versions of the latest Mohican HDD iPod Classic have merged into one, 120 GB, $250 price tag and thin body left over from the younger model.

For the first time, Apple is not using the largest available capacity of 1.8-inch HDD, which today reaches 250 gigabytes.

They will also obviously go into ultra-compact laptops. Alas, today they are in vogue, and they get all the most delicious, while MP3 players have become commonplace and are content with what is left.

You can look at the new earbuds, their $79 price tag should lower the price bar for balanced armature products.

News like the return of NBC and its TV shows in the iTunes Store are of little interest to us.

One can only guess who ended up caved in lower. TV shows now range from 99 cents to $3 depending on demand and quality (SD/HD), which is what NBC is rumored to want. Apple denies the “deflection”, stating that this kind of variable pricing is common practice for it. Most likely, there was a compromise.

The fact that Apple is trying to make its video section of the iTunes store more interesting (the return of NBC, the offer of video in HD resolution) is quite predictable. The competition is ever-increasing, see Sony (PlayStation Video Store), Microsoft (Netflix video streaming on Xbox 360). It is obvious that here the company will not succeed in an easy victory, as with music.

That, in general, and all that the iPod will live next year. Apple's line of media players continues to be the strongest offering for those who are willing to live in the iTunes ecosystem, the system itself has found new opportunities. Models like the iPod Classic and iPod touch are still unmatched on the market (Zune 120 US-only doesn't count). The new nano is a strong offering in the mid-range segment, large display + glass + slim body + "magic" accelerometer can't help but hook the audience, it's a stronger incentive to upgrade your nano compared to the third generation.

As Chinese OEMs leave the market - and they are fleeing MP3 like rats from a sinking ship - Apple (and other branded manufacturers) will increase the share of Apple (and other branded manufacturers), which can lead to an increase in iPod sales even in a stagnant player market. Obviously, although Apple does not intend to invest significant resources in the development of the iPod, the brand will be kept afloat, after all, as long as it is the only Apple brand with a significant global market share, a symbol of the company's success in the era of the second coming of Steven Jobs.

Apple iPod line launch 08/09, September 2008, San Francisco

We live in times of chaos and unpredictability. Financial crises, fluctuations in exchange rates, armed conflicts... All the more valuable for us are the islands of stability still preserved in this crazy world. So, in particular, doesn't it warm the soul to know that, no matter what happens, in September, the CEO of Apple Inc. Steven Paul Jobs will take the stage at the San Francisco convention center to announce the launch of the new (of course, the best in the company's history) iPods?

From top to bottom - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 (photo from engadget.com)

Against a huge presentation screen in front of the cream of the offline and online press, he will show off impressive numbers, lightly kick competitors and talk about new products and services in a light playful way.

Nerds can complain that for three years now, nothing revolutionary has been shown at these events.

They say, yes, in 2007 we were shown the iPod touch, but who could be surprised by this iPhone without Phone two months after the start of sales of its phone version? Or nano with video support in the same year - how many players with this capability have we already seen since the year 2005? Not to mention the announcement in 2006, which brought nothing but slight design changes.

And this time we suffered another disappointment: Moore's law for flash memory stopped working, we did not see a doubling of storage capacity.

iPod nano (top) and iPod touch (bottom) offerings, not including the unofficial 4 GB version of the nano in some markets

64 GB players from other manufacturers did not appear either. But the law continues to work "If something decreases somewhere, then it will certainly increase elsewhere." And we know where capacious flash memory chips have "leaked" - into SSD.

But let's not be so boring and appreciate not a revolution, but an evolution in the latest presentation of Apple, held on September 9 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. I will start with the most interesting, in my opinion, things, gradually moving on to less significant ones.

Since we are talking about stability and predictability, we must definitely remember such a vivid example of this as the release of new versions of iTunes.

If for some reason you forgot what year it is, just download the latest iTunes, add two thousand to its current version number, and you will get a result close enough to the truth. Available to the public since September 9, the eighth version, in addition to the inevitable and also already traditional glitches and BSODs for some users, also brought curious new features that are worth dwelling on in more detail.

Somewhere this summer on the pages of mobile-review.com, I dwelled on the topic of online music recommendation services and their importance in the development of the music market. Internet music, I reasoned, had already offered to replace all components of the traditional music market: online stores and P2P networks had replaced CD points of sale, MP3 players had consigned their cassette and CD predecessors to oblivion. Now, in order to develop further, you need to offer something new, for example, new, more effective ways to find music.

Apple, obviously, agrees with me and, as usual, with a delay of several years (about seven this time), released its recommendation engine with the modest name Genius (however, in Russia this word is more associated with a budget brand accessories).

In my reasoning, I classified such services into expert ones, where the characteristics of the musical material are at the forefront, and into social ones, where everything revolves around the individual tastes of listeners. Genius is closer to the second group and belongs to a specific variety, the beginnings of which can be seen on the pages of online stores. Do you remember the section “Buy with this product often”? With an online store of 8.5 million audio tracks, a history of tens of millions of registered active buyers who have bought 5 billion tracks in the last 5 years, not to mention hundreds of millions of iTunes installed on PCs worldwide, it's a sin do not use such a base for recommendation purposes. This is a unique asset for Apple, allowing the company to skip the difficult initial stage of accumulating a base, which is typical for other recommender systems.

Genius, with a logo that personally evokes nostalgic memories for me of the symbols used in the Soviet Union to denote scientific progress, the success of the peaceful atom, etc., performs two main functions.

First, it searches your music library for music that matches well with some source track you specify. This can be useful if you store many tens of gigabytes of music, have long forgotten what, in fact, you pumped up there, and most of it you have never listened to at all in your life. Secondly, the Genius sidebar searches the entire iTunes Store catalog for tracks that match your chosen composition and recommends them to you. This is already useful for Apple, as it should stimulate new purchases. However, no one bothers to get recommendations and then download the recommended tracks from somewhere for free. True, for the "genius" to work, you need an account in the iTunes Store.

Rating recommendation services is difficult. Whether the advice of Genius is better or worse than those of Pandora (which, by the way, the US Senate recently saved from ruin by record companies) or Last.fm, everyone must understand for himself, this is extremely subjective. In any case, the very fact of the appearance of such a service is already an indicator of at least some movement of the company forward. In addition, this will draw people's attention to such services by themselves, because, as you know, Apple will not advise bad things (not counting a number of products that failed at the time).

The next interesting thing is the development of the partnership between Apple and Nike.

An American sportswear supplier, to his credit, understood the importance of MP3 players for amateur sports very early on. Not afraid of shaking and bumps (well, not very strong ones), these are excellent companions that will not let you get bored when jogging or exercising on the simulators. Over the past seven years, Nike has changed more than one partner in the search for its ideal player manufacturer, until it finally calmed down in the arms of the Cupertino company.

No. 1 in the sports shoe market in the US and No. 1 in local MP3 players - it's hard to find a more harmonious pair. True, unlike Nike's previous partners, Apple does not accept double surnames - no logo, except for the iPod, will appear on the body of its players. Instead, a new accessory was released: the Nike + iPod Sports Kit.

This set consisted of a pedometer in the form of a piezoelectric accelerometer built into the sole of a sneaker, and a receiver that connects to the player and receives information from the pedometer wirelessly.

It was announced for the second generation nano in 2006, of course, during the traditional presentation in September.

Two years later, the Nike + iPod Sports Kit has blown the dust and announced support for the accessory on the iPod touch.

The main point is that the receiver is now built into the Toyota player, which, of course, is much more convenient.

Highlight - the receiver is now built into the player Toyota Toyota which, of course, is much more convenient.

The concept and functionality of the Nike + iPod Sports Kit is interesting and worthy of detailed consideration. It's not clear why other manufacturers of MP3 players or music cell phones don't respond to this. Other players and phones with accelerometers, calorie counters, etc. are present in the market, but why not, for example, Nokia partner with Adidas to promote such offerings? After all, this is a rather large and quite interesting market with a potential entry into the most powerful advertising and PR tools of the sports industry.

In addition to integrating with the Nike + iPod Sports Kit, the second-generation iPod touch received a few cosmetic changes, including a thinner, volume control, and a built-in speaker.

The most important changes are inside: with the new firmware, the device now has access to the Appstore.

Emphasis is important here. Jobs focused specifically on one particular type of application: games. A number was mentioned (the head of Apple is generally very fond of numbers at presentations): 700 games available through the Appstore right now. Nothing was said about their quality and originality, except that among them there are supposedly masterpieces.

Again, just like during the iPhone 3G summer presentation, we talked about Spore. Let me remind you that a seriously truncated (only the first, “single-celled” phase of development is available) version of it, Spore Origins, has been released for the iPhone (as well as for many other mobile phones and smartphones).

The fact that the "large" version of this game met with a rather mixed reception and a lot of criticism, of course, was not remembered. In addition to Spore Origins, the audience was shown football, Real Soccer 2009 and racing, Need for Speed.

The graphics quality of the last two was at a high level, bringing to mind the words of the head of ID Software, John Carmack, that the iPhone / iPod touch is more powerful than the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS combined. The latter two, by the way, Jobs publicly challenged from the stage, calling the iPod touch "the best portable device for games."

iPod touch, Nintendo DSi, Sony PSP-3000 (collage from joystiq.com)

Although in games, especially portable games, graphics are far from everything. Otherwise, the DS would not have overtaken the PSP in sales almost twice. The library of games is important, Apple is working on this, gathering major American and Japanese developers under its banner.

The latter cannot but be interested in the wide coverage of the iPhone/iPod touch, especially in the US, which means millions of devices and millions of customers. The game demos with complex 3D graphics are a testament to the company's desire to elevate its offer above the typical "phone games", countless tetris, bejeweled, sudoku.

Games are also extremely important control, and here, Apple products, like any universal device, have problems. The proposed "innovative" tilt control of the player's body does not look ergonomic, especially when playing for a long time - you are tormented to turn the player in your hands and look at the darting screen. Using the on-screen keys is also not the best solution due to the lack of tactile feedback, which is so important with the often purely reflex control movements in games. This casts doubt on the prospects of Apple products in serious mobile gaming, no matter how many sing-alongs may declare them to be the "killers" of the PSP, DS and Wii combined. Although, of course, people will download iPhone/iPod touch games and play them.

You can't get past the nano update, which changed the fourth generation. In the summer, there were rumors that the novelty would acquire a touch screen (it should have turned out something like the Samsung P2), and this would be the end of the Click-wheel. We did not see anything like this, the changes turned out to be much more modest.

Apple has ditched the questionable "pot-bellied" design of the previous generation and returned to slender forms, while retaining the 2-inch QVGA display.

To do this, she had to make a mini-revolution and finally turn the display 90 degrees.

I personally applaud this with all my heart, always saying that the ideal for portable media players is lists in portrait mode, videos and photos (and Cover Flow on iPods) in landscape.

That's what we got, complete with an accelerometer that switches the display from portrait mode to landscape mode automatically. We've already seen this with the iPhone and iPod touch, and now the technology has moved into the mid-price segment. The accelerometer is also used for other functions, for example, for playing a random track (Shuffle) when the player is shaken.

Although the shapes of the new nano are familiar to us, the player is much sleeker than its predecessors and looks more expensive. It became even thinner, received an oval profile, mineral glass is used, when creating the new product, Apple obviously tried, first of all, to make a beautiful accessory.

An abundance of colors speaks in favor of this.

Apple is not the first to offer customers a wide choice of colors (below is the Creative Zen Micro rainbow and the Toshiba Gigabeat U100 color madness), but it does it more gracefully

Non-budget materials and design in the middle price segment - competitors will have something to think about when planning future product lines.

It is also curious that for the second year in a row, the design of the new nano pops up a couple of weeks before the presentation in the form of "spy" photos.

What's left? The rest is nonsense. Two versions of the latest Mohican HDD iPod Classic have merged into one, 120 GB, $250 price tag and thin body left over from the younger model.

For the first time, Apple is not using the largest available capacity of 1.8-inch HDD, which today reaches 250 gigabytes.

They will also obviously go into ultra-compact laptops. Alas, today they are in fashion, and they get all the most delicious, MP3 players have become commonplace and are content with what is left.

You can look at the new earbuds, their $79 price tag should lower the price bar for balanced armature products.

News like the return of NBC and its TV shows in the iTunes Store are of little interest to us.

One can only guess who ended up caved in lower. TV shows now range from 99 cents to $3 depending on demand and quality (SD/HD), which is what NBC is rumored to want. Apple denies the “deflection”, stating that this kind of variable pricing is common practice for it. Most likely, there was a compromise.

The fact that Apple is trying to make its video section of the iTunes store more interesting (the return of NBC, the offer of video in HD resolution) is quite predictable. The competition is ever-increasing, see Sony (PlayStation Video Store), Microsoft (Netflix video streaming on Xbox 360). It is obvious that here the company will not succeed in an easy victory, as with music.

That, in general, and all that the iPod will live next year. Apple's line of media players continues to be the strongest offering for those who are willing to live in the iTunes ecosystem, the system itself has found new opportunities. Models like the iPod Classic and iPod touch are still unmatched on the market (Zune 120 US-only doesn't count). The new nano is a strong offering in the mid-range segment, large display + glass + slim body + "magic" accelerometer can't help but hook the audience, it's a stronger incentive to upgrade your nano compared to the third generation.

As Chinese OEMs leave the market - and they are fleeing MP3 like rats from a sinking ship - Apple (and other branded manufacturers) will increase the share of Apple (and other branded manufacturers), which can lead to an increase in iPod sales even in a stagnant player market. Obviously, although Apple does not intend to invest significant resources in the development of the iPod, the brand will be kept afloat, after all, as long as it is the only Apple brand with a significant global market share, a symbol of the company's success in the era of the second coming of Steven Jobs.