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Media (Apple) Businesses Media Apple

iPod Shuffle On The Way Out Already? 154

An anonymous reader writes "A CNN Money article, of all things, talks about the reasons Apple might have for getting rid of the iPod shuffle." From the article: "The shuffle may not be long for this world. The tiny MP3 player, a favorite of gym-goers, is cheap at $129, but lacks a screen. It may soon be replaced by a 1-gigabyte version of the iPod nano, according to UBS analyst Ben Reitzes. Currently, the smallest nano has 2 gigabytes of storage, enough for about 500 songs, and costs $199."
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iPod Shuffle On The Way Out Already?

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  • shhhh!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm covering my Shuffles sensitive ports so it can't hear this filthy banter...

    On the way out my arse! It's tiny, leightweight, unobtrusive, and works well... only losers need a screen and/or video.

    • Re:shhhh!! (Score:3, Funny)

      by utexaspunk ( 527541 )
      On the way out my arse!

      That sounds painful!
      • > On the way out my arse!
        >
        >That sounds painful!

        Yeah, but at least with the Shuffle, he won't look like the Goatse Guy when he's done with it.

      • ::On the way out my arse!

        :That sounds painful!

        Hey, if you chose to ignore the warnings and eat the Shuffle, whatever happens after is your lookout.

  • by Yahweh Doesn't Exist ( 906833 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @10:45AM (#14625606)
    Mac rumours is talking about Apple patent applications for multipoint touchscreen control, prompting speculation (based on clear diagrams) that a video ipod will be all screen with a virtual clickwheel (more reasonable than the tablet application at this point in time).

    http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2006/02/20060202070 007.shtml [macrumors.com]
    • That would be cool. I imagine the screen will cover the entire front face of the iPod (a la PSP) which would actually make me want to watch video on it.
    • That would be cool, but like my DS, I bet it would scratch a lot.

      Personally, I want to see a 20gb iPod Nano. It might be a while, but I realy enjoy my current Nano, but I wish it had more space.
    • "... all screen with a virtual clickwheel..."

      In case you haven't noticed, a virtual clickwheel doesn't give positive user feedback as to just when a button is pressed, and it's also prone to accidental inputs. That's why Apple switched to a physical "click" wheel starting with the 4G pods. Somehow I don't see them going backwards in useability.

  • by ursabear ( 818651 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @10:46AM (#14625614) Homepage Journal
    The Shuffle was and still is a great idea. It is an extremely well made product that isn't really a lot more expensive than a plain USB memory stick (relative, folks). Both my kids love their shuffles because they're lightweight, unobtrusive, and they get to load up a day's worth of tunes at one shot (they've got 1GB Shuffles).

    I really enjoy my Nano, and my wife enjoys here Mini, but to be truthful, the Shuffle is more "handy."
    • Well, I'm not sure it's a great idea from Apple's standpoint.

      It boils down to who you want to compete with.

      Apple I'm sure is happy to compete with cheap flash player manufacturers for cheap folks like me. But they can't do this without competing with the Nano. Anybody looking at a Nano will probably consider a Shuffle. This opens the door to cheap competitors, and Apple's not making enough on the Shuffle to blow them into obvlivion.

      I went through this process recently.

      I looked at getting a Nano. I wante
      • by blueZ3 ( 744446 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @01:22PM (#14627341) Homepage
        That the shuffle is a "loss leader" in some ways? I personally know a couple of people who bought shuffles and liked them enough that they then later went out and "upgraded" to either full-size iPods or Nanos. Once your average punter has that investment in iTunes DRMed music, they don't have another (easy) option. (What, you expect them to search out and use a tool like iOpener? Too "geeky") Because of DRM and other issues, it seems fairly cost-effective to catch people who are just getting interested in digital music players and hooking them on Apple's software and services.

        Selling shuffles at a price competitive with "low end" makes sense for Apple, I think. They prevent people from getting started in digital music with another player, drive traffic to iTunes (which is something of a "lock in" for non-technical users) and are a good entry-level player.

        But I guess Apple's marketing department will have the ultimate say in whether these are cost effective or not.
    • I'm about as anti-fanboy as they come (I HateHateHateHateHate iTunes, Rythmbox, and all of their slow-ass database-driven spawn), and even I've been considering a Shuffle, but more as a flash-drive-cum-mp3-player than the other way around.

      If they made a 2GB version and sold it for, say, $160, I'd be all over it. 1.5GB for songs, 512MB for misc files, and no freakin' cables? More Kool-Aid, please!

      I've got some crow to eat, too - when it first came out, I knocked them for not having a screen. Now, though, I

  • Not going anywhere (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <`akaimbatman' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @10:52AM (#14625683) Homepage Journal
    The tiny MP3 player, a favorite of gym-goers, is cheap at $129, but lacks a screen.

    1. The $129 is for the 1GB version. The 512MB is very popular at $99, a full $100 less than the iPod Nano.

    2. While the Nano's screen is very cool (*I* want one!), not everyone needs one. I gave my wife a 512MB Shuffle a little while back, and she couldn't be happier. As far as she's concerned, the screen is just a liability that she would never use anyway. Thus she's in no hurry to upgrade.

    In fact, I probably wouldn't have gotten my wife an iPod at all if the 512MB price point wasn't so low. She asked me explicitly not to spend too much money on her (she was afraid I'd go out and get a $300 iPod), so I took the route of saving up a bit of extra spending cash here and there for a few months, and paid cash for the Shuffle. Even at $150, the Nano would be priced a bit too high for such a range.
    • by slashkitty ( 21637 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:22AM (#14625964) Homepage
      If you don't need a screen, why have one? It just adds weight, size, complexity and cost. The main reason to keep the suffle is sound quality. It has the best amp of any portable mp3 player. [pcmag.com]http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1777890,00.as p [pcmag.com]
      • The main reason to keep the suffle is sound quality. It has the best amp of any portable mp3
        player.


        amen!

        it does have a somewhat constant and almost annoying hiss. but its bass is VERY accurate and its sound is quite low in distortion. really amazing for its price/size.

        I understand they used diff DACs in this vs. the other ipods. pity, that - I'd have gotton a nano if it sounded as good as the shuffle.

    • Even at $150, the Nano would be priced a bit too high for such a range.

      Yup, the Shuffle is all about capturing that "long tail" (ie. the people who want to spend significantly less than $200 for an MP3 player.) I'm sure that the Shuffle is relativately inexpensive for Apple to produce, so even though the Shuffle probably doesn't bring in *that* much revenue, they probably have wide profit margins on them.

      Apple has always been good at creating a demand for products with big profit margins. I can't ima

    • $129 is for the 1GB version. The 512MB is very popular at $99, a full $100 less than the iPod Nano...

      ...Even at $150, the Nano would be priced a bit too high for such a range.

      One thing Steve Jobs brought to Apple on his return that was novel (to his past experience) and that has persisted is an almost rigid dedication to tiered pricing arrangements. As an iPod buyer, you have models to choose from at around $50 from each other all through the spectrum.

      It's been the same for their laptops and desktops,

  • by dissolved ( 887190 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:02AM (#14625781)
    I'm one of the aforementioned gym-goers and my iPod shuffle has been part of the reason I've lost so much geekweight(30kg) in the last year. Having a little, robust and fuss-free mp3 player with me has got me through some tough long distance runs and some gym sessions where I didn't want to be there.

    I often sit there for ages with my iPod video not knowing which of the 30gb of music & podcasts I actually want to listen to, having that hassle on runs before with other media players has been more than off-putting.
  • People buy the iPod shuffle cause they DONT want a Nano. Nano's are fragile. VERY fragile, and while it might work with care a gym is a very unforgiving place.

    Likewise one of the best uses for my Shuffle has been that I can use it as a flash drive. It works great, and loads on EVERYTHNG and is about the size a flash drive should be, which is NOT what the Nano is.

    Nothing says they cant just throw a screen on the tiny Shuffle form factor, even if it mattered which looking at Apple's Sales figures, it didn

    • by yeremein ( 678037 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:19AM (#14625941)
      Nano's are fragile. VERY fragile

      The Nano might not be as fragile [arstechnica.com] as you think.
      • by falcon5768 ( 629591 ) <`Falcon5768' `at' `comcast.net'> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:50PM (#14626965) Journal
        not very conclusive testing. they did blunt force, but have you ever had one of those slim cellphones? they snap in half which is what the nano can easily do. Ever tried to snap a lego brick in half? thats about how strong the Shuffle case is.
        • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @03:47PM (#14628908)
          but have you ever had one of those slim cellphones? they snap in half which is what the nano can easily do.

          A quick google finds me a lot of people who say they think this must be a problem, but I'm not finding anyone who says it's happened to them.

          Personally I'm convinced I'd just plain lose a Nano, and the scratching put me off to start with, but "snaps in half" doesn't register on my list of concerns. Evidence?

      • I have a Nano, and have absolutely no protection for it except the little leather-esque sleeve Apple now ships with them (they didn't come with the earlier shipments though).

        I carry my Nano daily in the little pocket (match pocket, watch pocket) in my jeans, use it almost daily sitting out in a wood/metal shop (scenery shop at a theater), and it has no real scratches on it thus far, although it does collect dust.

        No screen cracking, a few small scratches near the connector, but none near the screen which is
        • (match pocket, watch pocket)

          loose change pocket in modern speak
          • loose change pocket in modern speak

            Interestingly, I say match pocket as that is my understanding of why it is there in the first place (for miners to keep their matches dry). I also add watch pocket as the few times through life I used a watch, I typically had a pocket watch and used that pocket for it.

            I never keep change in there, for the past few years it has been my miniature flashlight pocket, and now it is my flashlight/iPod pocket. One more little item that needs a place to live and I'll need to s

    • The real benefit isn't the durability, it's that the total size of the thing is less than the size of the minimum area needed to provide visual feedback for interaction to the user. I wouldn't be too surprised if the shuffle got a tiny screen with the current track info scrolling across, or if it got even smaller, but it appeals almost exclusively to a market that wouldn't be interested in a nano, even if the nano had infinite capacity and were indestructable and free.
  • by ptomblin ( 1378 ) <ptomblin@xcski.com> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:10AM (#14625859) Homepage Journal
    I use the 60Gb for day-to-day use at home and in the car, and my wife uses her Mini the same way. But we've also got a Shuffle for two reasons:
    - it's plugged into the stereo, so we can load it up with appropriate music for a party and leave it playing
    - I sometimes take it kayaking.
    For both of those applications, a screen and a larger capacity are irrelevant. But by the same token, neither the screen nor the larger capacity would be an impediment, so if Apple wanted to rationalize the product line a bit and bring out a Nano at the $100 price point, I'm sure they'd sell bazillions of them, even to people who only needed a Shuffle.
  • Clearly, too many of them were being eaten [erasing.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    " talks about the reasons Apple might have for getting rid of the Shuffle."

    The real reason is Apple wants to phase it out before some dumbass sues them for hearing loss [slashdot.org] because they don't know how to turn the volume down.
  • by DaedalusLogic ( 449896 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:15AM (#14625913)
    My dad has a bit less than 20/20 eyesight. If we give him a Nano or regular iPod he would fumble around with the clickwheel to select what he wants to listen to in the car. With the shuffle he just loads it with the few things that he wants and skips around.

    If it's not making business sense I understand... but it is a good product. I hope that they are just coming out with a new incarnation of the Shuffle.
  • Nonsense. If I wanted to buy an MP3 player with memory stick, then I would opt for the iPod Shuffle. The fact that I'd rather have a normal iPod or a Nano has nothing to do with the fact that I still would choose Apple over other producers of a particular item. I'm sure other people feel the same; thus, Apple sells these things. There's no reason why they would suddenly stop producing something that sells.
  • Being able to just plug it into any usb port for a quick charge is wonderful. If the Nano was able to do it, I'd get one. For now a 1gb shuffle is enough for my commutes for the week on one charge and I don't have to listen to the same song twice.
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:32AM (#14626061)
    Acceptance of the shuffle has been hit or miss. People focus entirely on its lack of screen, but I have to agree when Apple with their motivation for coming out with a cheap music player without a screen, you don't really need it.

    I own an 30gb iPod that has my entire music collection on it. Of course it needs a screen in order to browse and find 3000+ music files. But in reality, when using the 30gb iPod, I put it in shuffle mode and rarely look at the screen. I am happy to simply let the music I enjoy be randomly selected. I know who sings the songs because, unlike a large majority of people, I don't simply download illegal music without discretion so I have countless songs I have never heard of by artists I am not familiar with. All the music on my iPod is legit and payed for and known.

    The Shuffle was always intended to be an auxiliary player, NOT a music storage library. I plug the Shuffle into my Mac, it randomly fills it with songs, and I take it to the gym or on the road. I don't feel that the lack of screen has ever been a detriment to the Shuffle.

    But there is a market segment of people that don't own that much music. Who were looking for a cheap player that could actually store their entire music library in 512mb or 1gb of storage space. People bought the Shuffle without realizing it's not the product that was intended to suit their purpose. And of course, these people complained loudly. At the time the Shuffle was release there was NO cheaper digital music player on the market (I looked, there really wasn't), so the Shuffle was attractive as an inexpensive music player with the high profile of Apple's iPod lineup. I can understand how some people not familiar with digital music players would buy the Shuffle without considering if it met their needs.

    So, I will be disappointed if Apple drops their Shuffle product, but I can't see how it can continue. There is no reason for a Shuffle with more then 1GB of storage. Putting too much storage into a screenless player will only exasperate the problem with a screenless player. As you put more storage, people expect to be able to browse and search larger collections of music. Apple could put a screen on the Shuffle, but Apple is slow to let people feel they made a mistake or go against Apple's original convictions. Like the 1 button mouse, Apple won't simply cave in to consumer demand. Apple released the minute iPod Nano which fills in the market segment for small players with a screen, and as the price of the Nano drops, it can easily fill in the same market of the Shuffle.

    But I was really hoping for Apple to release a micro sized shuffle, make it the smallest, lightest, and cheapest player on the market. I would easily buy something that was half the size and weight of the Shuffle, or even smaller. It would be a novelty item, but it would still be cool. Apple could always release a product that didn't have a screen, but create a remote attachment with a screen (it would be Apple's way of suggesting they were right in making a screenless player a success, but still give consumers what they want). Turn the Shuffle into a two piece Nano with an optional remote screen, that would be very cool.
    • I don't simply download illegal music without discretion so I have countless songs I have never heard of by artists I am not familiar with. All the music on my iPod is legit and payed for and known.

      I have lots of music from artists I'm not familiar with. I frequent mp3blogs and visit artist's websites and download half a dozen demo songs at a time, then just stick them in iTunes like tiny time-bombs set to go off randomly in my Party Shuffle. I also buy used CDs and sometimes even cheap mix CDs from gas sta
    • While I agree with what you say about how Apple probably sees the market value of the Shuffle, I think it is really unfortunate.

      I actually wish there were a 2 or 4G shuffle as that would be perfect for my wife. My wife hates gadgets and computers. To the point she calls me from work when she wants to attach emails or upload files to the university's Blackboard system.

      She needs a memory stick as she does design work, and occasionally will do it digitally with a tablet (after we found the right software/tab
    • I agree with the points you make, but am I the only Shuffle owner who doesn't use the random mode?

      I don't listen to songs, I listen to albums, almost exclusively. So I put in my Shuffle, delete the albums at the top of the list which I have listened to, and load some new ones at the bottom of the list, then pop it out and listen to my music in linear mode. I get a fairly random assortment of music because I load albums willy nilly, but not by using the random mode. (Right now it's Weezer, the album.)

      Also, I
    • Some people don't need a screen, but some people do.

      I have a little Creative Muvo flash player that works pretty well. Even though it doesn't hold a ton of audio, having a screen is a big benefit to me because:

      1) I have multiple folders setup on it. I'll typically have a "standard" playlist of songs that I'll keep on there for weeks, and then a folder with new songs that I want to be able to get to quickly. This could be done without a screen, but not as easily.

      2) Sometimes I'll put old radio shows on th
  • That is to say, it's about to shuffle off this mortal coil? [phrases.org.uk]
  • I've got a 4g 40 gig iPod, and it's useless at the gym. If the shuffle pricepoint was lower (as some earlier commenters suggested), I would totally get one.

    So many people seem to be invested in the iPod family (husband/wife/kids/dog each have different one that suits their needs) that marketing the shuffle as a companion device is a solid idea.

    Cats however... my girlfriend's cats seem to only like chilling to music straight from iTunes with the visualizations on. Kittens dig Brian Eno.
  • i think the 512MB shuffle outsells the 1GB model, right? i would guess that is due to price?
    the shuffle is perfect for using it like a 8 or 16 hour mix tape (depending on the model). it is pretty adequate for most people to throw a ton of songs on their shuffle. i know a lot of people that have full sized iPods and also have a shuffle for running or the gym or whatever else. on the other hand i know people that bought a shuffle because they do not think they needed 30 days of music on had at all times......
    • i guess some of the shuffle's use could be replaced by cell phones.

      Not really. At best a cellphone has poor battery life, and you really don't want to get into the "I can't make a call because I flattened my battery playing music" space. :)
      • The shuffle's battery life is only 12 hours. I would guess a significant number of cellphones could manage MP3 playing (which involves only output to headphones, not radio operation which is the traditional battery eater) for far longer than that.

        Personally I think the hand is writing on the wall for dedicated MP3 players. Cellphones are, quite honestly, months away from having enough capacity to replace the majority of MP3 player units out there.

        • I would guess a significant number of cellphones could manage MP3 playing for far longer than [12 hours].Back in the old days a typical cellphone was a 4 inch bar and a significant portion of that was battery, and you could leave it on standby a week between charges... but these days they're already hard pressed to maintain the 72 hours of standby (a long weekend) I consider a bare minimum as it is. The advertised standby times seem to be measured next to a tower so they can run their radio at an absolute m
  • ...why people insist on speding the kind of jack on an MP3 player that iPod owners do.

    My wife wanted some kind of music player for working out. I found just what she needed: a SanDisk m260. 4GB flash memory, earbuds, strap, case, some software. Uses a standard AAA battery you can actually replace easily (unlike the $40 battery and removal tool I had to buy for my daughter's iPod Mini, which isn't holding it's charge after six months).

    Sale price at local retailer: $150.

    The sound is great and I've al
    • I'm pretty sure you're not trolling...

      If a six month old ipod mini doesn't hold a charge anymore, take it back to the Apple store and they will fix the situation for you immediately, since its under warranty.

    • (unlike the $40 battery and removal tool I had to buy for my daughter's iPod Mini, which isn't holding it's charge after six months)

      If your daughter's Mini quit holding its charge after six months, it should have been replaced under warranty. Mine was, after eleven months.

      That said, I agree with your comment on software. My daughter's previous MP3 player was a generic flash device very much like the iPod Shuffle ... at least two years before the Shuffle came out. She broke the USB connector three times, and
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2006 @03:02PM (#14628473)
      Why I've owned multiple iPods (3rd gen which is dying a slow and painful hard drive death, 4th gen photo that was stolen):

      - No futzing with files and directories, everything's automatically organized in iTunes, which translates directly to the iPod. I used to be a big futzer, but I guess I grew tired of that as I grew older.

      - Automatic sync between iPod and iTunes every time I connect. Again, no futzing.

      - Smart Playlists (does not apply to iPod shuffle). This is the biggie for me. Makes my listening experience so much smoother and ultimately more enjoyable. A well-crafted Smart Playlist gives me the superior control I want without wasting my time on unnecessary futzing.

      - iPod automatically updates metadata like last-played time and play count every time a song is played on the go. Smart Playlists using this data automatically update. Data gets synced with iTunes next time I connect. I make very extensive use of this stuff, it's great!

      I've looked at the competition and still find that nobody else offers the above combination of features. I won't buy anything that doesn't have all of the above.

      Why I refuse to buy another iPod (until it's fixed): lack of support for true gapless playback. I like listening to full albums, and many of my CDs have tracks whose audio blends together seamlessly between songs. A few competitors do offer gapless, but none offer anywhere near the above features that I love about the iPod.

      For true gapless playback, iPod and iTunes need to treat individual songs as they do now, with full metadata support on a per-song basis. None of this BS about ripping a CD as one big track without chapter markers. That "solution" doesn't allow me to skip around to different tracks, nor does it allow me to put individual tracks in various playlists. Ripping twice is no good either - wastes space, and metadata isn't synced between the full-album and individual-song versions.

      This can be done by augmenting the chapter functionality so an album is one big file with chapters, but metadata is stored per song, and individual songs within that album file can be dragged into any playlist. Shouldn't be too hard, but Apple freaking doesn't care. 99.9999% of their customers don't care, so why should they? Bah!

      </tangential rant>

      • >> - No futzing with files and directories, everything's automatically organized in iTunes.

        Dropping something into a simple hierarchical structure is not "futzing". If you set
        your ripper up right, you don't even have to create the initial structure. Your music
        is simply organized in a sensible manner.

        >> - Automatic sync between iPod and iTunes every time I connect. Again, no futzing.

        That's fine so long as your entire collection will fit on
  • If they get rid of the shuffle my next MP3 player won't be an iPod.

    Even if the Nano-nano is the same price as the shuffle.

    The biggest advantage of the shuffle, for me, is that I can easily do all operations by feel.

    That's not true for any device with the never-sufficiently-damned click-wheel.
  • I have two technophobe parents, my mom occasionally knows tonnes of stuff about something like a VCR or Digital TV but mostly it's pretty painful.

    I've tried everything, just explaining when something is easy and something is hard can be pretty tough.

    I just put shareaza on her laptop, I know it's piracy but she's trying to find some really obscure stuff... It was too complicated.

    I got them 2 matched usb mp3 players (work as usb drives)... But they say they are too complicated even though they have no m
  • I've got a 3G 15GB iPod that my wife uses. Despite that, I prefer my Shuffle. I'd still prefer it to a Nano, even at 1GB. Why? It comes with a lanyard, I wear it around my neck, and I use it as a USB stick at work just as much as I use it for audiobooks. Oh! Audiobooks! Who needs a screen?
  • Actually, there is right now both the 1 GB iPod nano (with screen) abd 1 GB and 512 MB iPod shuffles ,.. with big price drops.
    So the shuffles stayed for at least now.
  • sigh. I like the nano. there's a lot to like about it.

    but in the end, its about the music and the sound. my shuffle (that I got as a gift) sounds INCREDIBLE. the nano, while its a great piece of jewelry and all - and the screen is gorgeous - the sound quality is either average or even below. quite a pity.

    and now, today, they announce the shuffle is going away. if they could only merge the audio section of the shuffle with ANY other ipod, we'd be all set.
  • It's already overly sensitive when in the company of video iPods.

    I don't want to have to stay up another long night listening to him cry.

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