Link: The iPod-Phone Prototype

iphone_prototypes-0

Image Credit: The Verge

http://www.theverge.com/2017/1/6/14188624/apple-prototype-iphone-ipod-click-wheel

This is a fascinating article.  Obviously, it took Apple some time to land on the design of the first iPhone, but I’d never seen any of their other attempts.  This design basically took the old iPod interface (remember the click wheel?) and added the ability to make phone calls.  The result is… unpolished, maybe even unusable.  The most mind-boggling part is that the click wheel isn’t hardware, it’s on screen (although the article does say that might just be because it’s a prototype).  It’s clear why Apple didn’t go with this design, but it’s really neat to see an idea they attempted.  It was natural to think of the iPhone as an extension of the iPod, so it probably seemed natural to attempt this with the UI.  Fortunately, however, this idea didn’t win out, and we got iOS instead.  ••

Why the iPod Touch Continues to Make Apple Money

♦ This post is one of the Best of 2015 ♦


Ah, the iPod Touch.  I remember how badly I wanted one in middle school, and how excited I was when I got one in 7th grade.  Back in those days, the iPod Touch was about the coolest gadget a kid could have.  Nowadays, though, it seems like every kid over 10 has an iPhone.  However, the iPod Touch continues to pay off in spades for Apple.  Why?  Indoctrination.

What does indoctrination have to do with the iPod Touch?  Easy.  Apple marketed the iPod Touch as something for kids, and parents bought it (literally).  Honestly, it was a good device for kids: it allowed them to do most things that an iPhone could do for around $200 flat.  Not super cheap up front, but there were no expensive monthly bills to deal with.  Kid friendly?  You bet.

After that, however, is when things got interesting: all those kids grew up.  They grew up and, like their parents, wanted smartphones.  And what kind of smartphones do you think these kids wanted?  iPhones of course!  Having already been indoctrinated into Apple’s ecosystem – the apps, iMessage, Game Center, and so on – they didn’t want to leave.  Apple continues to see these benefits to this day.  Most of my friends in high school and college used to have iPod Touches, but now they have iPhones.  The iPhone is well established as the gold standard; almost everyone agrees it’s simply the best you can get.  Sure, Android still has a substantial presence, but the iPhone remains in the lead.

What allowed Apple to completely take over this market?  I think it’s in part because of Apple’s previous dominance with the iPod in general.  And with the iTunes Store.  They had already set themselves up as the go-to for media players; it was only a natural jump to a touch screen.  More than anything though, Apple won this market because they tried.  It’s not like Android couldn’t have done anything about it.  Android phone manufacturers simply didn’t see the value in creating touch screen media players.  They did exist; I remember reading about a couple of them.  However, they never got off the ground the way the iPod Touch did, mostly because they were never pushed very hard.

Maybe Android didn’t see the long-term value in the market.  Actually, I don’t know for sure if Apple did either; maybe to them it was just a good product in the short-term.  But whatever the reason, Apple invested a lot into the iPod touch from around 2007-2012.  However, that has begun to change.

As I’ve said, I see fewer and fewer iPod Touches these days.  More and more I just see iPhones, being held in increasingly smaller hands.  And since we didn’t see an iPod revision last fall (which would have been on par with the previous two-year update cycle), it would seem that the iPod Touch has just about breathed its last.  But it had a good run.  In fact, it had a great run; one that put the next member of the relay team – the iPhone – a few extra strides further ahead of the competition.  ••

Customer Service at the Apple Store

Two weeks ago, I finally went down to the Apple store to get a replacement battery for my iPod Touch.  My iPod is two years old, and the battery life had been going downhill for a long time.  I’ve been meaning to take it in for a new battery for a while now, I just didn’t have time until recently.  While I was at the Apple Store, I also brought in my MacBook, since I’d been having problems with the charger.  Sometimes, when I just barely moved the part of the cord that plugs into the laptop, the power cut out.  Sometimes only the little green light on the charger would go out, but other times the computer would lose power as well.  Again, since I was going to the Apple Store anyway, I went ahead and brought it in.

I had called Apple previously to get a price for the iPod battery replacement.  I was told that it would be $79.  This would be the final price – parts and labor included.  After making a Genius Bar appointment on Apple’s website (a process that could stand some simplification), I headed into the store.  I sat down at the Genius Bar and waited a few minutes for someone to come help me.  When he came, I showed him my iPod and explained that I wanted a new battery.  He had me make sure I had backed everything up (I had, to the computer that morning), and had me turn off Find My iPod Touch.  Scrolling through the hardware replacement options on his iPad, he seemed confused.  He said that they didn’t offer iPod Touch battery replacement.  I explained him that I had been told over the phone that they would.  He went and asked another employee, who said that instead they just replaced the entire iPod for the price of the battery.  I was wary.  I’d taken excellent care of that iPod, and I didn’t want some refurb that had been through who-knows-what.  With this apprehension, I asked him in what condition the new iPod would be, and he informed me that it would be brand new.  Well alrighty then, I thought.  Long story short, I got a brand new iPod (which would sell new today for $249) for $79.  Happy customer.

Then I brought out my Mac.  I showed the guy what happened with the charger, and asked if that was normal.  He said no, and went and got another charger.  This one didn’t have the same issue.  In order to be honest, I told him that I had bought the laptop used, and that there was a tiny dent near the charging port.  I explained that I thought maybe it had been dropped at some point.  I thought for sure I would have to pay for a new charger.  For goodness’ sake, the thing was two years old.  I had no warranty, no nothing, and I’d just told the guy I thought someone had dropped the computer.  Despite this, he went and got me a new charger, no payment, no questions asked.  That charger would have cost me $60.

So long story short, I was extremely thrilled with the way they took care of me at the Apple Store, and I would recommend them to anyone.  I essentially paid $80 for over $300 worth of replacements.  Apple has their customer service down here.  I feel great knowing that if something goes wrong with my device, Apple has a good replacement policy.  Goodness knows I paid enough for these things in the first place.  ••

Predictions for Apple’s September 9th Event

I’m guessing you’ve heard by now, but Apple is having a huge event this Tuesday.  It is widely believed that Apple will release the iPhone 6, but what else does Apple have up its proverbial sleeve?  Here are my predictions.  Be sure to check back here Tuesday for a special follow-up post detailing what I did and didn’t get correct, as well as any other surprises I might have missed.

iPhone
It’s expected that the iPhone 6 will be announced at this event (though it probably won’t actually become available for purchase for another 7-10 days).  But perhaps a better term to use here would be iPhone 6es.  It is widely rumored that we will be seeing multiple, different-sized models of Apple’s popular smartphone.  The most recent models (5, 5c, and 5s) have all have a screen measuring 4″ diagonally.  I expect a 4″ iPhone 6, in addition to a 4.7″ model.  The other number floating around the internet is 5.5″, which does sounds awfully big.  I’m not sure how this one is going to play out, buy my guess is that the 5.5″ model is going to happen.  As for the “-c” product line, I don’t think we’re ever going to see that again.  My prediction is that Apple will simply continue to sell the iPhone 5s as a cheaper option.

iOS 8
After seeing it announced last June at WWDC, I definitely think iOS 8 is going to launch at this event.  Like the iPhone, it probably won’t go live until a week or so later, but I’m pretty sure we’ll get an official date Tuesday.

iPad
If Apple’s behavior last year is any indication, I don’t think we’ll see any new iPads at this event.  Assuming that they’re sticking to a pattern here, there will be another event in October, at which we will see new iPads.

Mac
Like the iPad, I don’t think we’re going to see any new Mac software or hardware at this event.  Most likely, we will see the release of OS X Yosemite, as well as some slightly improved Mac hardware, at another event later this fall.

iWatch/iBand
This one is tricky.  It’s been rumored for quite some time now that Apple will be entering the wearables market.  What’s unclear is whether the device will be a Pebble-style smartwatch, or a Fitbit-style activity tracker (or, most likely, some of both).  Given Apple’s new Health app that will be pre-installed in iOS 8, it’s not a crazy thought to think that this device could have a large health focus.  What’s odd is that we have seen zero hardware leaks for this device.  None.  This is really, really unusual – especially compared to the wealth of iPhone 6 hardware leaks.  Either Apple has seriously cracked down on secrecy or… the iWatch may be coming later, or not at all.  Even still, I’m going to say yes to this one.  I think the iWatch is finally going to be announced, though it’s possible it won’t ship for another couple months.

Apple TV
I’ve talked before about how awesome the Apple TV could be (thought it’s still pretty great as it is), but I don’t think we’re going to see anything about it at this event.  I’m hoping that there will be a major Apple TV update at an October Apple event, but I think doing something drastic now could steal the iWatch’s thunder.

Beats
After Apple’s purchase of Beats by Dr. Dre, everyone is expecting Apple to do something big with Beats (or something at all, really), potentially in the streaming music market.  That being said, I don’t think we’re going to see anything significant about Beats at this event, or even this year.  I do hope Apple makes a new bid into the streaming music business, but I think it’s going to take them a while to work that out fully.

iPod
Sadly, I think the iPod’s days are over.  Based on Apple’s current time frame, we ought to be due for new models this year (we got them in 2012 and 2010), but I don’t think it’s going to happen.  Granted, I think Apple is going to continue selling the iPod, but I think we have seen the last of new iPod models.  If, however, I am wrong, and we do see new models, I really, really, doubt we’ll see them again in another two years.

The Death of 16gb
This is really just a vain fancy of mine, but I hope the iPhone 6 doesn’t come in 16gb models.  16gb is feeling increasingly small, and I think it’s time for the $200 iPhone to come with 32gb of space.  Let it go, Apple.

The Great Unknown
The best part about this event is that, even though I’m pretty confident about much of what’s written above, there could be something entirely new and amazing that I have no idea about.  It’s all up in the air right now.  Be sure to come back here Tuesday for my follow up post to hear exactly what happened.  Better yet, why not subscribe so the post comes directly to your inbox?  That way, you can be the cool person around the water cooler (or on Facebook, there’s plenty of share buttons below) – the one who already knows all about that mythical iPhone 6 that everyone’s been talking about.  ••