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IPod

From Academic Kids

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A fourth-generation iPod with . iPod has a  interface, here using .
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A fourth-generation iPod with earphones. iPod has a multilingual interface, here using Dutch.

The generic brand iPod refers to a class of portable digital audio players designed and marketed by Apple Computer. (Hewlett-Packard also markets the product under the name Apple iPod + HP.) Devices in the iPod family offer a simple user interface designed around a central scroll wheel. Most iPod models store media on a built-in hard drive, while a lower-end model, iPod shuffle, relies on flash memory. Like most digital audio players, an iPod device can serve as an external data storage device while connected to a computer.

Contents

Name

Apple refers to the player and the technology as iPod, without use of the definite article the. The Apple web site reflects this usage (for example, "iPod incorporates the same touch-sensitive Apple Click Wheel that debuted on iPod mini"), which resembles Apple's use of the word iMac. Other names Apple use in their technology with "i" in front of it include iSight, iChat, iTunes, and iBook.

History

Tony Fadell first conceived of iPod outside Apple: he had difficulty finding funding for an MP3 player he had designed. When he demonstrated it to Apple, the company hired him as an independent contractor to bring his project to fruition, putting him in charge of assembling the team that developed the first two generations of the device. Apple's Industrial Design Group under Jonathan Ive designed the subsequent incarnations.

Apple originally released iPod as a product exclusively usable by Mac users, but the company added Microsoft Windows compatibility as demand increased. As of October 2004, iPod dominated digital music player sales in the United States, with over 92% of the market for hard-drive players and over 65% of the market for all types of players. iPod has sold at a tremendous rate, moving over ten million units in a total of three years. The device has had a significant cultural impact in terms of its take-up. Additionally, research (http://www.ipodlounge.com/ipodnews_comments.php?id=P5915_0_7_0_C) suggests that iPod has served as a sort of "gateway drug" or had a "halo effect", encouraging PC users to switch to other Apple products, such as Macintosh computers.

Capabilities

Software

iPod can play MP3, WAV, AAC/M4A, Protected AAC, AIFF, Audible audiobook, and Apple Lossless file formats. (It has been critized for its inability to play Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Windows Media Audio (WMA), or RealAudio files.) The Windows version of iTunes can transcode WMA files without copy protection to AAC, MP3, or WAV format for later transfer to an iPod.

Apple designed iPod to work with the iTunes media library software, which lets users manage the music libraries on their computers and on their iPods. iTunes can automatically synchronize a user's iPod with specific playlists or with the entire contents of a music library each time an iPod connects to a host computer. Users may also set a rating (out of 5 stars) on any song, and can sync information with a host.

In addition to music-playing and file-storage capabilities, iPod has PDA functions: the unit can store a copy of information from the address book and iCal applications on the user's Mac, and can also display notes, though users cannot edit any of this information on the iPod.

All generations of iPod also feature games. 1G and 2G iPods have a game called "Brick", a clone of the old arcade game Breakout engineered by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. 3G and 4G have "Brick" as well as three other games:

  1. "Parachute", a game in which the user controls a turret and attempts to shoot down pixelated paratroopers and the helicopters which release them. Parachute clones the Apple II game "Sabotage" by Mark Allen.
  2. "Solitaire", a simple card game resembling the solitaire card game called "Klondike".
  3. "Music Quiz", a more recent addition, came standard starting with the iPod mini and 4G iPods and became available to 3G iPods through a free software update. "Music Quiz" plays a portion of a random song and prompts the user to identify it from a list of 5. A song drops off the list every several seconds and the faster users choose the right song the more points they get.

Hardware

Except for the iPod shuffle, all models of iPod offer FireWire connectivity, although Apple has recently stopped including FireWire cables with iPod mini and iPod photo models in favor of the Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0) connectivity introduced earlier with the 3G iPod. iPods recharge their internal batteries using FireWire or USB bus power (only 4G and higher) while connected to a computer or to an iPod AC power adapter. Both USB and FireWire-based power adapters exist. The full sized iPods use a proprietary 30 pin dock connector to connect the iPod to a PCs FireWire or USB port. The iPod Shuffle has a USB connector that plugs into a standard USB port for recharging and data transfer.

The first three generations of iPod use two ARM7TDMI-derived CPUs running at 90 MHz, while later models have variable speed chips with a peak of 80 MHz to save battery life. iPod uses ultra-thin 1.8 in (46 mm) ATA hard drives (with a non-standard connector) made by Toshiba, or in the case of iPod mini, one-inch Compact Flash hard drives made by Hitachi. iPod has a 32 MB flash ROM chip which contains a bootloader, a program that tells the device to load the operating system from another medium (in this case the hard drive). All iPods have 32 MB of RAM, a portion of which holds the iPod OS loaded from the firmware and the vast majority of which serves to cache songs loaded off the hard drive. For example, an iPod could spin the hard disc up once and copy about 30 MB worth of upcoming songs on a playlist into RAM, thus saving power by not having the drive spin up for each song.

Unlike a CD player or some competitors (such as the Rio Karma and the iAudio M3), the iPod cannot play songs without a short gap between songs. The processors found in most portable players, including the iPod, lack the speed to process the headers in lossy (MP3, OGG, etc.) files in the short period of time necessary to obtain gap-free playback. The iPod does not play pre-encoded music gaplessly; however, when encoding CDs in iTunes, users have the option to merge individual tracks into one long, single track. This alleviates the problem somewhat, but does not provide a flawless solution.

Newer iPod accessories include memory-card readers, FM tuners, and voice recording modules. Well-known iPod accessory manufacturers include Belkin. Some of the accessories, like the speaker systems made by Bose and the in-car audio interfaces for BMW, make use of the docking connectors found at the bottom of the iPod and have the user dock the unit in the device. These connectors provide control and information as well as a path for the sound-signal and power to run the iPod or accessory.

Earphones

All iPods come with "earbud"-type earphones with distinctive white cords, a color chosen to match the design of the original iPod models. The white cords have become symbolic of the iPod brand, and advertisements for the devices feature them prominently. (Like most included earphones, these stock white earbuds class as fairly low-quality, so many users choose to replace them immediately.) Some third-party manufacturers sell white earphones (for example: White Sony EX71, Etymotic Research ER-6i) marketed as replacements for the iPod's earphones, though they also work with other devices. Creative Labs (with the Zen Touch and Zen Micro digital music players) and Sony (with the PlayStation Portable) released strikingly similar white earbuds after the iPod became successful.

Compatibility

The original iPod had compatibility only with Macintosh computers running Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X, but on July 17 2002 Apple began selling a Windows-compatible iPod, with its internal hard drive formatted as FAT32 instead of as HFS Plus. [1] (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2002/jul/17ipod.html) Apple released a Windows version of iTunes on October 16, 2003 [2] (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2003/oct/16itms.html); previously, Windows users needed third-party software such as Musicmatch Jukebox (included with Windows iPods before the release of the Windows version of iTunes), ephPod, or XPlay to manage the music on their iPods.

The most recent generation of dockable iPods removes the Mac/Windows distinction; these iPods ship with their hard drive formatted for use with a Macintosh, and the user can reformat it for Windows use after purchase. An iPod with its hard drive formatted as HFS+ operates only with a Macintosh, because Windows does not recognize HFS+, but since the Macintosh can handle FAT32, an iPod formatted as FAT32 can operate with a Macintosh as well as with a PC. HFS+ leaves slightly more space available to store data, and it lets the iPod serve as a boot disk for a Macintosh computer.

On January 8, 2004, Hewlett-Packard announced that they would license iPod from Apple to create an HP-branded digital audio player named colloquially as the HPod. The following day, Carly Fiorina, then-chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, unveiled the new, blue iPod-based device at the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show. While a blue iPod never made it into production, the current HP model, completely identical to the Apple iPod, sells as the "Apple iPod + hp". Retailers of this model include (among others) the retail giant Wal-Mart, which includes a disclaimer explaining that it will not work with its own online music service.

The iPodLinux project has successfully ported an ARM version of Linux to run on iPods. It currently supports first through third generation iPods, and features simple installers for Mac OS X and Windows. A SourceForge project exists for the project [3] (http://ipodlinux.sourceforge.net/), and copious documentation appears online. [4] (http://www.ipodlinux.org/Documentation)

The iPod uses standard USB and FireWire mass-storage connectivity, and therefore any system with mass-storage support can mount it and use it as an external hard drive. The iPod will also charge from any powered USB port, regardless of software support. A special database file serves to list the songs available to play, however, so users require a program such as iTunes to upload songs. As of 2005 only gtkpod offers such functionality for Linux and other UNIX variants. Apple has not yet released a Linux version of the software used to flash the firmware of the iPod.

Design

Jeff Robbin headed the iPod firmware team at Apple. His team integrated the core firmware from PortalPlayer with the user interface library developed by Pixo. (The founder of Pixo had worked on the Apple Newton, a personal digital assistant formerly produced by Apple.) The Pixo libraries provide the user interface, though iPod photo has incorporated some visual elements from Mac OS X, such as the animated "Aqua" style progress bar. The user interface of most iPods (with the exception of the mini and photo models) uses "Chicago", the font used on the original Macintosh computer from 1984. iPod mini uses the "Espy Sans" font, previously seen in eWorld, the Newton, and Copland. Due in part to the higher resolution of its display, iPod photo uses the Myriad Pro typeface, Apple's corporate typeface.

This photograph shows the internal view of a third-generation iPod:

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iPod internals

From left to right:

  • An intact third-generation iPod.
  • The front of the iPod casing (face-down). The lighter green circuit board controls the iPod (and leaves room for the battery to fit beside it), and the darker green board beneath it controls the touch-scroll wheel and the buttons. Note three connectors: the battery connects in the lower-right corner; the hard drive connector lies to the left of the black area in the lower left; and the headphone jack, wired remote control jack, and Hold switch (all located on the top of the iPod) connect as a single plug in the top right.
  • The lithium ion battery.
  • The hard drive, surrounded by a layer of soft rubber which also extends beneath it to insulate it from the circuit board. The layer of rubber also helps to protect a spinning hard drive from shock damage while the owner of the iPod moves about.
  • The rear of the iPod. Wires connect the ports and switch on the top of the case to a small plug. A hole on the bottom of the case allows access to the FireWire port on the circuit board.

The unit's case snaps together, with no screws or glue involved (though the 4G has some glue holding the battery in place). The plastic front of the case has clips which lock under a ridge inside the rim of the metal case back. A servicer can pry the iPod open by carefully inserting a small screwdriver to pull the metal away from the clips.

iPod contains a small internal speaker which generates the scroll-wheel clicks and alarm clock beep sound, but this internal speaker cannot play music.

Use

iPods (other than iPod shuffle) have five buttons:

  1. 'Play/Pause'
  2. 'Menu' (which backs up one level in the menus)
  3. 'Previous' (which skips back through tracks in play)
  4. 'Next' (which skips forward through tracks in play)
  5. 'Select' (the button in the center of the scroll wheel; this selects a menu or a song to play).

(Note that fourth-generation iPods — and the Mini and Photo models — incorporate these buttons into the "click wheel" scroll wheel.)

A 'Hold' switch also exists on the top of the unit. Setting this switch to display red will make the buttons unresponsive, so that users do not press them accidentally. The scroll wheel also cannot change the volume in Hold mode.

Holding down the 'Menu' button for two seconds will turn off the display's backlight. Holding down the 'Play/Pause' button for two seconds will turn the unit off.

If the iPod becomes unresponsive, the user can force it to reset. On a 3G or earlier iPod, slide the switch on the top of the unit to 'Hold' then back the other way, then hold down the 'Menu 'and 'Play/Pause' buttons for six to ten seconds until the Apple logo appears. On a 4G (click-wheel) iPod, toggle the 'Hold' switch as above, then hold down the 'Menu' and 'Select' buttons.

Users can place iPod into FireWire Disk Mode, in which it behaves like a FireWire hard drive without any of the additional iPod functionality. On a 3G or earlier iPod, reset it then hold the 'Previous' and 'Next' buttons until the display reads "Disk Mode". On a click-wheel iPod, hold 'Select' and 'Play/Pause'. Reset the unit again to return it to normal functionality.

iPod's firmware contains a diagnostic menu. On a 3G or earlier iPod, reset it then hold 'Previous', 'Next', and 'Select'; on a click-wheel iPod, hold 'Previous' and 'Select'. Release the buttons after a few seconds, and the unit will chirp and briefly show a backwards Apple logo before displaying the diagnostic menu. Navigate through the menu with the 'Previous' and 'Next' buttons (not the scroll wheel), and select items with the 'Select' button. Press 'Play/Pause' to exit a test. (Apple has never publicly documented the functionality of the diagnostic menu.)

An iPod unable to start (due to either a firmware or a hardware problem) displays the "sad iPod" image (http://www.peachpit.com/content/images/exr_0819ipod/elementLinks/figure7.8.gif), reminiscent of the sad Mac icon of earlier Macintosh computers.

Models

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iPod Mini (left), first generation iPod (right)

Apple currently markets five kinds of iPod. Some models come with different capacities (a higher capacity allows the storage of more music) or with different designs. They are: the original iPod (20Gb), iPod mini (4Gb and 6Gb and in various colors), iPod U2 Special Edition (20Gb), iPod photo (30Gb and 60Gb), and iPod shuffle (512Mb and 1Gb).

There have been several revisions since the original model of iPod, leading to the existence of four distinct generations.

iPod

While all iPods have roughly the same size and the same capabilities, the design has undergone several revisions since its first introduction to the market. Four distinct generations of iPods exist, commonly known as: 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G (these designations do not relate to the Power Macintosh G3, G4 or other Macintosh model designations — do not confuse such designations with the storage capacity of any given model of iPod).

Within any generation of iPods, various models with different sizes of hard drives have come onto the market at different price points. During the third generation, three sizes of iPods have co-existed in the marketplace at any given time, priced at US $299, $399, and $499. Currently, Apple markets only one version of the iPod: with a 20-gigabyte hard drive for $299. Note that Apple claims that 1 gigabyte of storage will hold 250 4-minute songs encoded with the iTunes software at 128Kb/s AAC. Encoding songs at higher bit rates will take up more space on the hard drive. One can scale this proportion up; the current 20-gigabyte iPod can hold roughly 5000 songs by Apple's definition. Note that once formatted as either Mac or Windows format, the actual capacity of the iPod decreases slightly from its stated capacity since the formatting information by itself requires storage space.

First generation

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The Original 5GB iPod.

First announced on October 23 2001, the original iPod cost $399 with a 5 GB hard drive. [5] (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2001/oct/23ipod.html) Critics panned the unit's price, but iPod proved an instant hit in the marketplace. Apple announced a 10 GB version ($499) in March 2002, and a 20 GB version in July (introduced at $499 along with a price drop of $100 for the other two models).

Apple designed a mechanical scroll wheel and outsourced the implementation and development to Synaptics, a firm that also developed the trackpad used by many laptops, including Apple's PowerBooks. The 1G iPod featured four buttons (Menu, Play/Pause, Back, and Forward) arranged around the circumference of the scroll wheel. Although superseded by non-mechanical "touch" and "click" wheels, the circular controller design has become a prominent iPod motif.

Second generation

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A 2G iPod.

The 2G iPod replaced the mechanical scroll wheel with a touch-sensitive, non-moving one (also made by Synaptics) which could detect the motion of the user's finger circling.

Third generation

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A 20 GB 3G iPod with included dock, earphones, and beltclip carrying case.

On April 28, 2003, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced an "ultrathin" iPod series. Slightly smaller than their predecessors, they had more beveled edges. Over the life of the 3G iPod series, Apple produced 10 GB, 15 GB, 20 GB, 30 GB, and 40 GB sizes.

These iPods use a 30-pin connector called the Dock Connector — longer and flatter than a FireWire plug. This allows them to fit more easily into the new iPod Dock which Apple introduced at the same time. The iPod Dock came bundled with all but the least-expensive iPod, and also retails separately.

The 3G iPod featured touch-sensitive buttons located below the display. The new buttons featured red backlighting (controlled by the same preference as the screen backlight), allowing easier use in darkness.

With the 3G iPod, Apple stopped shipping separate Mac and Windows versions of the unit. Instead, all iPods now shipped with their hard drives formatted for Macintosh use; the included CD-ROM featured a Windows utility which could reformat them for use with a Windows PC. These iPods also introduced Hi-Speed USB connectivity (with a separately-sold USB adapter cable).

When purchased through the online Apple Store, the iPod featured custom engraving: a purchaser could have two lines of text laser-engraved on the back (for an additional charge, although currently free).

Although past models proved widely popular, after the release of the 3G model Apple's iPod sales skyrocketed, with a combination of effective advertising and celebrity endorsement making iPods a fashionable item.

Fourth generation

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Newsweek Cover

In July 2004 Apple released the fourth generation iPod. In a new publicity route, Steve Jobs announced it by becoming the subject of a Newsweek magazine cover (at left).

In the most obvious difference from its predecessors, the 4G iPod carries over the click wheel design introduced on the iPod mini. Some users criticized the click wheel because it does not have the backlight that the 3G iPod's buttons had, but others noted that having the buttons on the compass points largely removed any need for backlighting.

The 4G iPod, slightly thinner (about 1 mm less) than the 3G iPod, introduces the ability to charge the battery over a USB connection. Currently, the 4G is available at 20 GB, costing $299. Apple discontinued the 40 GB, $399 model in February 2005.

Apple claims that updated software in the new iPod allows it to use the battery more efficiently and increase battery life to 12 hours, and minor changes such as the addition of a "Shuffle Songs" item on the top-level menu make it more convenient for users. After many requests from users asking for these improvements to be made available to earlier iPods as well, Apple on February 23, 2005, released a firmware update which brings the new menu items to 1G through 3G iPods.

The standard, 20GB 4G iPod comes bundled with cables to connect it to both FireWire and USB ports. Both the iPod U2 Special Edition and the iPod photo can be considered enhanced versions of the fourth generation iPod.

iPod mini

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A blue 4G iPod mini in its dock.

Main article: iPod mini.

Apple entered the market for "mini" form-factor digital audio players in January 2004, with the introduction of iPod mini, competing directly with players like Creative's Zen Micro and Digital Networks' Rio Carbon. iPod mini has largely the same feature set as the full-sized iPod, but lacks support for some third-party accessories. Its smaller display has one fewer lines than previous models, limiting the on-screen track identification to title and artist only.

iPod mini uses Microdrive devices for storage.

First generation mini

On January 6, 2004, Apple introduced iPod mini. It had 4 GB of storage and a price of $249 (at the time, only $50 below the 15 GB third-generation iPod). Critics panned it as too expensive, but once again it proved overwhelmingly popular, and Apple Stores had difficulty keeping the model in stock.

iPod mini introduced the popular "click wheel" that was later incorporated into the fourth-generation iPod: the touch-sensitive wheel means that users can move a finger around it to highlight selections on the screen, while the unit's Menu, Back, Forward, and Play/Pause buttons are part of the wheel itself, letting a user press down on part of the wheel to activate one of those functions. The center button still acted as a select button.

Apple initially made iPod mini devices available in five colors: silver, gold, blue, pink, and green. Silver models have sold best, followed by blue ones.

Second generation mini

In February 2005, the second-generation ("2G") [6] (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=300850) iPod mini came on the market with a new 6 GB model at $249 and an updated 4 GB model priced at $199. Most notably, both models featured an increased battery life of up to 18 hours. In addition, they featured richer case colors (though Apple discontinued the gold color) and other minor aesthetic changes. Also, the 2G iPod minis did not include the AC adapter or the FireWire cable bundled with previous models.

iPod U2 Special Edition

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U2 iPod

On October 28, 2004, Apple released iPod U2 Special Edition. Black on the front with a red click wheel (the colors of U2's latest album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb), it features the signatures of U2 band members engraved on the back. Apart from the design, the iPod U2 Special Edition replicates the 20GB 4G iPod. The iPod includes an iTunes Music Store coupon redeemable for $50 off the price of "The Complete U2", a "digital boxed set" featuring 400 tracks of U2 music. [7] (http://www.apple.com/ipod/u2/)

iPod photo

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iPod photo

Main article: iPod photo.

Apple released iPod photo (renamed from iPod Photo, with a capital P, less than a month after its launch) on October 28, 2004. It features a color screen and the ability to store and display JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and PNG images. One millimeter thicker than the standard fourth-generation iPod, iPod photo can also play music for up to 15 hours per battery charge. iPod photo originally came in 40 GB and 60 GB versions, which cost $499 and $599 respectively.

On February 23, 2005, Apple discontinued the 40 GB model, introduced a lower-priced 30 GB model, and dropped the price of the 60 GB model. However, unlike the first iPod photos, the lower-priced 60 GB and the new 30 GB models lack the dock, FireWire cable, carrying case, or AV cables (accessories valued at approximately $120).[8] (http://www.apple.com/ipodphoto/)

On March 22, 2005, Apple announced the $29 "iPod Camera Connector" which promised users of iPod photo instant transfer of images from a USB-compatible digital camera to the iPod photo. Unlike Belkin's Digital Camera Link, Apple's unit supports instant image viewing on the iPod photo after transfer without having to connect the iPod photo to a computer first.

To manage their photo library on the iPod photo, Macintosh users use iPhoto and PC users use Adobe Photoshop Album or Elements. None of these applications comes bundled with the iPod photo, although new Macintosh computers ship with iPhoto.

iPod shuffle

Main article: iPod shuffle.

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An iPod shuffle with earphones.

Apple announced iPod shuffle at the Macworld Conference & Expo on January 11, 2005 with the taglines "Life is random" and "Give chance a chance". iPod shuffle introduced flash memory (rather than a hard drive) to iPods for the first time. The shuffle comes in two models: 512MB (up to 120, 4-minute songs encoded at 128 kbit/s) and 1GB (up to 240). Unlike other iPod models, iPod shuffle cannot play Apple Lossless or AIFF encoded audio files—possibly due to the iPod shuffle's smaller processing power. The shuffle has a SigmaTel processor. One review (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1778968,00.asp) regards it as having one of the best-sounding audio systems of all the iPod models.

iPod shuffle has no screen and therefore has limited options for navigating between music tracks: users can play songs either in the order set in iTunes or in a random (shuffled) order. Users can set iTunes to fill iPod shuffle with a random selection from their music library each time the device connects to the computer. iPod shuffle weighs less than one ounce (0.78oz or 22g) and approximates in size to a pack of chewing gum. Like the rest of the family, iPod shuffle can operate as a USB mass storage device.

iPod Shuffle official site (http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/)

Battery life

Apple designed iPod with an internal lithium ion battery that users cannot easily replace. Like most lithium-ion batteries, the iPod battery lasts roughly 500 full recharge cycles. In other words, the battery will continue to have a useful life through the equivalent of five hundred complete discharges and recharges; through time and use, the life of the battery will generally decrease until eventually it does not hold a charge for very long. Apple has published guidelines on its web site for maximizing the life of an iPod battery. [9] (http://www.apple.com/batteries/ipods.html)

In late November 2003, film-makers and Apple enthusiasts The Neistat Brothers produced a short movie, downloadable online, which expressed anger because the battery on their early-model iPod had failed after eighteen months and because of this the iPod became unusable. The movie depicted the Brothers vandalizing Apple ads in the New York City area with graffiti proclaiming that "iPod's unreplaceable battery lasts only 18 months." [10] (http://ipodsdirtysecret.com) The movie met with some criticism, with other iPod users pointing out that their iPods had lasted longer than 18 months, and some critics suggesting that the brothers had attacked Apple solely for the sake of publicity. [11] (http://www.billpalmer.net/com000047.html)

Shortly before, Apple Computer had introduced a battery replacement scheme ($99) for out-of-warranty iPods [12] (http://www.macminute.com/2003/11/14/ipodbattery), and offered users the option to extend the warranty of their iPods ($59). [13] (http://www.macminute.com/2003/11/21/ipodapplecare/) In addition, other companies are offering battery replacements for as little as $50, or users can purchase a battery (at ipodbattery.com, for example) for around $30 and replace it themselves. [14] (http://www.ipodbattery.com/ipodinstall.htm)

Critics often note that competing standalone digital music players often have user-serviceable batteries, and those that don't often require nothing more than a single screw to be removed to replace the (officially non-user-serviceable) batteries. Replacing iPod's battery is unusually difficult, for a consumer device.

iTunes integration

iTunes is the only official method for synchronizing with the iPod, although several projects have been made to allow the iPod to sync with other players, most notably the ml_iPod plugin for WinAmp, that allows users to manage their iPod content through Winamp, and even allows functionality not available through iTunes, such as the copying of music off of the iPod.

iTunes Music Store

Main article: iTunes Music Store.

No portable music player other than iPod can play the DRM-enabled files sold on Apple's iTunes Music Store. Apple encrypts these AAC audio files (.m4p) using their proprietary FairPlay system in such a way that only authorized computers (up to five) and unlimited iPods can decrypt and play them.

Steve Jobs has stated that this restriction aims to increase the sale of iPods: "We would like to break even [or] make a little bit of money [on the iTunes Music Store] but it's not a money maker." Users can circumvent the restriction by burning protected files to an uncompressed audio CD and then re-ripping and encoding them as unprotected files, though this can become tedious and causes a loss of audio quality with each iteration. (It may also violate the DMCA in the U.S.)

Alternately, one can circumvent the copy-protection with a third-party software program named Hymn, or with Apple's own Compressor software included with Final Cut Pro. Also, an anonymous developer has developed iOpener, a program that will find protected AAC files on a user's computer and convert them to AAC files without encryption[15] (http://www.hymn-project.org/download.php).

The iPod does not support other DRM-protected formats (such as the DRM-protected version of WMA), so iPod users who wish to purchase DRM-protected music online must do so through iTunes or circumvent the DRM of the files downloaded from the other store (which, again, may involve illegality). Music purchased from other online stores will not play on an iPod in protected form. Another alternative is Jon Johansen's ("DVD Jon") program called PyMusique ([16] (https://fuware.net/pymusique/)), which allows iTMS customers to purchase songs without DRM restrictions.

Apple has maintained tight control of its FairPlay encryption, electing not to license it to other companies. As a result, other online music stores cannot sell music files encoded with FairPlay, and competing devices from companies such as Creative Labs and iRiver cannot play such files. Consumers who want to download songs from the extensive iTunes music catalog to their digital audio players have no choice but to purchase an iPod (or, as mentioned below, convert the downloaded files to an open format).

This scheme has seen Apple, the market leader, attracting criticism for creating a "vertical monopoly," using iPod, the iTunes Music Store, and "FairPlay" (Apple's DRM-protected implementation of the AAC open standard) to establish a vertical monopoly to lock iPod users into using iTunes exclusively (and vice versa). Anyone who owns an iPod can only use the iTMS if they want to purchase copy-protected music online, and people who have purchased music from the iTMS can only play it on an iPod, not any of the competing standalone music players.

In July 2004, RealNetworks debuted an application named Harmony, which used a technological workaround to allow iPod users to convert files purchased from RealNetworks' RealRhapsody service into a FairPlay-compatible format which an iPod could play. Apple responded by accusing RealNetworks of "adopt[ing] the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod." [17] (http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20040729-4051.html) Apple later released a firmware upgrade that rendered fourth-generation iPods and iPod mini incapable of playing files converted with Harmony. RealNetworks has vowed to develop another workaround.

The iTunes Music Store recently sold its 400 millionth song [18] (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2005/may/10itms.html).

Third-party accessories

iPod has created a large and growing after-market accessory industry; in the 2005 Macworld keynote, Steve Jobs referred to it as "the iPod economy".

  • Third-party software tools supporting iPod include:
  • Foobar2000, an alternative music player that has iPod functionality with the optional installation of the foo_pod (http://www.tinkafoo.com/log/foo_pod.html) component.
  • RhythmBox, a GNOME-based iTunes clone.
  • gtkpod (http://gtkpod.sourceforge.net/), a specifically iPod-targeted GTK-based iPod manager for several operating systems.
  • ml_ipod (http://mlipod.sourceforge.net), an open-source plugin for Winamp (http://www.winamp.com) that adds iPod support.
  • EphPod (http://www.ephpod.com), a Windows application that duplicates many of the features of iTunes, but also allows uploading of files from iPod to computer. EphPod can be downloaded for free, but is not open source.
  • Griffin Technology (http://www.griffintechnology.com) makes several iPod accessories, including the iTrip, iBeam, iTalk, PodPod, and Earjam.
  • naviPod (http://www.tentechnology.com/) by TEN Technology is a 5-button infrared remote control for the Apple iPod.
  • The inMotion Speakers by Altec Lansing act as a charging station as well as a dock while turning the iPod into a speaker system. The designers have made the iMmini variation on these speakers for compatibility with the iPod mini.
  • BMW releases the first iPod automobile interface to come from an automotive company[19] (http://www.ipodyourbmw.com/). The interface allows drivers of late-model BMW vehicles to control their iPod through the built-in steering wheel controls and the radio head unit buttons. The iPod attaches to a cable harness in the car's glove compartment.
  • The Macworld Expo in January 2005 announced that by spring 2005, more auto manufacturers such as Mercedes Benz and Ferrari will include similar systems.
  • A wide variety of other third-party products also exists and more appear every day, from voice recorders through games and other iPod-based software to various connection devices and adapters
  • A large accessory market has grown up around the iPod, including cases and tattoos such as those made by Hotromz (http://www.hotromz.com/) which feature unusual cases made from faux fur, feathers, organic hemp fiber and mohair; or by foof (http://foofpod.com/), who offer fabrics made from tweed, corduroy and kimono obi.
Missing image
Places_toronto_billboard_iPod.jpg
An iPod billboard in midtown Toronto.

iPod sales

Fortune Magazine, in their June 27th 2005 edition, reports Apple has sold over 15 million iPods including 5.3 million in the 1st quarter of this year. [20] (http://www.fortune.com/fortune/streetlife/0,15704,1071308,00.html) iPod currently dominates the digital audio player market, frequently topping best-seller lists. [21] (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/new-for-you/top-sellers/-/electronics/all/ref=e_hp_tn_2/103-3541352-3631820) In its fourth quarter results of 2003, Apple reported earnings of $106 million its highest revenue for Q4 in 9 years. [22] (http://news.nasdaq.com/news/newsStory.aspx?&cpath=20040301%5CACQDJON200403011156DOWJONESDJONLINE000696.htm) Hewlett-Packard, in contract with Apple for the sale of an HP-branded iPod, has reported sales as "going extremely well", but did not release figures. Apple has acknowledged that HP-iPods made up 6% of fourth quarter sales. [23] (http://www.macobserver.com/article/2004/11/17.4.shtml)

Key personnel

See also

External links

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