Doing The iPod Shuffle

So, having been unable to resist temptation, I ordered an iPod Shuffle on its launch day and it arrived today. I was a bit surprised how small it was, given that it arrived in a large padding envelope rather than a package. Still, as they say, good things come in small packages.

And the iPod Shuffle is a good thing. It’s exceptionally light, you barely notice it’s there. The controls are fairly intuitive although I really wish they’d used a better battery indicator rather than a button you have to push every time you want to check the battery status. Adding a few small LEDs where the battery check button would be much more intuitive.

Still, this is a no-frills music player, and it excels at that. The sound quality isn’t reduced from the other members of the iPod line, and given that the Shuffle is a cheap-end player that’s not too bad. The sound quality is much better than the other flash players I’ve tried in that price range. The iPod Shuffle is nowhere near as versitile as the regular iPod, but that’s not the point – it’s designed to do one thing (play music) and do it fairly well. It certainly does that.

I normally take my 3G iPod with me every day for my work commute, but given that I never listen to more than a handful of songs I have a feeling the Shuffle will be my new commute partner. In fact, if anything I’ll probably end up using some of its storage capacity for data storage (the Shuffle doubles as a USB 2.0 pen drive as well). The Shuffle is also much better than the larger iPods for exercising – flash memory isn’t sensitive to movement like mechanical hard drives are and the case appears to be the same durable polycarbinate plastic that’s used in the iBook’s construction.

The Shuffle has its drawbacks, and it’s not really a replacement for the larger iPods unless you only want to listen to a few songs. However, it fits a niche all its own, and it’s an excellent supplement to the larger iPod. And give that its $99 starting price puts it in competition with the POS flash players one would buy at Wal-Mart (which have nowhere near the elegance of design and only support music stores that use the crappy WMA format) the iPod Shuffle is really a no-brainer for someone who wants to have own an iPod without shelling out a large wad of cash.

I’m guessing that Apple sees the hard-drive player market is getting near saturation, and the iPod’s market share in that segment is orders of magnitude larger than its competitors. Getting into the flash player market allows Apple to reach a new pool of customers as well as further expanding the iTunes Music Store as the dominant source of legal online music. The iPod Shuffle is an excellent foray by Apple into the flash player market. I thought the iPod mini was a bit too expensive but ended up having to eat my words. This time I’m not underestimating Apple — the iPod Shuffle’s $99 price tag means that the Shuffle may do to the flash market what its larger siblings did to the hard drive market.

2 thoughts on “Doing The iPod Shuffle

  1. Only tangentally related, but your current site layout isn’t very Safari-compatible (I’m reading this on a friend’s iMac at the moment). Just thought I’d notify you, in case you weren’t aware…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.