New iPods, Apple TV, iTunes: Six Things Apple Got Wrong

Like many, I was thrilled with Apple’s announcements at yesterday’s special event. New iPods, a new Apple TV and iTunes 10. It all sounded great. But then as the day went on, I began to see problems. By this morning, I’ve identified six issues that will hurt the products announced yesterday.

I Guess Video Was a Fad
The new iPod Nano sounds great. It has a touch screen and is smaller than ever. And that color screen displays video, right? Wrong. According to the specs on the Apple site, the new Nano doesn’t support video. But the last two generations of iPod Nano did. That’s a pretty big feature to remove. I mean, it isn’t like watching video on a tiny little screen was that great, but for video podcasts or watching TV shows on a commute or airplane it was a killer feature. It is like someone took your TV away and replaced it with a radio.

What Happened To the Camera?
The previous iPod Nano was great because it had a video camera. For $149 you had the equivalent to the original Flip video camera, but with massive storage in comparison. It was the lightest, smallest video camera out there. But no camera on the new Nano. Another downgrade.
So the new Nano is the same price, but what new features does it have? None. Well, it has a touch screen, but that doesn’t let you DO anything you couldn’t do before. It is just a change to the interface. So the new Nano is missing a camera and video playback, and really adds no new features.

The iPod Touch Still Doesn’t Have a Camera
Well, technically, it has two: front and back. But these are both video cameras, not still image cameras. You can use them to take still images, but you only get very low resolution pictures. The back camera is the better one, and that only goes to 960×720 — less than 1 megapixel. OK for posting to Facebook, I guess. But you won’ want to print those or use it for anything remotely important. And there’s no flash like on the new iPhone either.

Another Salesperson In Your Pocket
So iTunes 10’s big new feature is Ping, a “social network for music.” But if you are that into music and want to share with your friends, then wouldn’t you already be doing that on Facebook? Are you going to make all your friends join Ping?
Ping is really just an extension of the last big new feature of iTunes, Genius. The latter had Apple recommending music to you. The former now has your friends doing it. And both are designed to get you to buy more music on iTunes.

No One Likes the Beatles
So you sign up for Ping anyway. One of the first things it does is to ask you to specify your favorites. But they must be artists on iTunes. Like the Beatles? Tough. They aren’t on iTunes so you can’t possibly like them. So tell me why I would use Ping over Facebook to share my thoughts on music?

Apple TV Still Behind the Curve
There are really only three new things about the new Apple TV: price, lack of storage, and Netflix. The first is great, sure. The second is a good move, I believe. And even if you don’t use Netflix, it is nice to know the option is there.
But that’s it. Nothing really new. The old Apple TV could run Netflix if Apple wanted to put it there. Heck, the Wii and XBox run Netflix. So does the iPad.
But what about streaming video services like Hulu? Everyone knows that is what needs to be on Apple TV. Now I know why Hulu isn’t there. The powers that control Hulu don’t want Hulu to be on TV-targeted devices. Hulu is for computers. They don’t want it to compete with cable. And Apple would probably rather sell you TV shows, even at 99 cents, than give you the chance to watch them for free with commercials. But these reasons have nothing to do with the end-user. In order for Apple TV to really take off, it needs to tap into the free with-commercials video streams. Apple just needs to figure out how to get this done. What would work is a small subscription fee to use Hulu on Apple TV. That’s how Netflix works, so the stage has been set.

Comments: 37 Responses to “New iPods, Apple TV, iTunes: Six Things Apple Got Wrong”

    iPop
    9/2/10 @ 8:30 am

    Wow, you killed my buzz. But, you make excellent points. Thank you. As always, you’re right on top of things, both positive and negative.

    A quick question, can I now use apps on the new Touch that require a mic, without having to plug in my earbuds? (Shazam, voice recorders, etc.)

      9/2/10 @ 8:50 am

      I would assume that you can use the mic on the iPod Touch, but we won’t know for sure until it ships. But when the iPad shipped, many apps that used the mic on the iPhone could use the mic on the iPad. At worst, it would just be a matter of app developers updating their apps to use the new mic.

    Stephan
    9/2/10 @ 9:47 am

    I agree with your notes on the Nano. Why remove all of those features and then keep the same pricing. Camera, Video-playback and bigger screen for a touch screen? That’s a bad tradeoff.

    Jeff Edsell
    9/2/10 @ 9:48 am

    Regarding Hulu, I don’t see the point. I’ve been trying it out on my PS3 and I’m pretty unimpressed. Pay a monthly fee AND still have to watch (unskippable) commercials? Wait 8 days before a new episode is available? If I want to catch up on a new series, only a handful of episodes are available? And the collection of shows and movies (on Hulu Plus anyway) are rather pathetic, though that will supposedly improve. (And navigating Hulu annoys me…they always seem to be shoving “clips” at me when I’m looking for full episodes.)

    Netflix integration is huge, and covers the monthly fee part of the equation nicely. (And no ads.) It makes sense — new stuff, a buck to rent. Older stuff, for “free” on Netflix.

    ping.me.not
    9/2/10 @ 10:17 am

    my lingering question about the iPod Touch is where is the mic on it? same place like on the iPhone or somewhere else to purposefully make people NOT use it with something like skype as a phone??? and is the speaker hidden somewhere elsewhere?

    oh, that new 720p camera for video is like with my flip hd but at least you can take still pictures with that new iPod Touch camera. with the flip, i would have to do a screen capture when i have the video on my macbook using the flipshare software to get a still picture. being able to take still pictures is an “improvement” when compared to my flip.

    and does HDR work with the new iPod Touch camera since the camera is primarily for video and facetime and secondary for still pictures? i think Jobs only talked about HDR when he was only talking about iOS 4.1 and not when he was talking about the new iPod Touch. anyways, it looks to me that Apple is using the new iPod Touch camera to differentiate the new iPod Touch from the iPhone. meaning if you want a better camera, then get a real iPhone.

    and you’re right about Ping. they want you to read what everyone else is saying about songs that people are buying on iTunes to prompt you to buy more songs from iTunes. okay, you follow the music artists to find out what they are saying. and then you also follow regular people. and buy exactly what they are buying. they’re hoping for the swaying crowd stalker effect where people want to buy what other people are buying. that’s smart marketing but i’d rather stick with twitter. also i really don’t like how i can’t use my nickname with Ping, but Apple must want to make people accountable by using your real name to minimize all the anti comments. sorry, Apple, but like how i turned off Genius on iTunes, i tried Ping and then turned it off.

    the one device that has me more excited is the Apple TV. $99. sold.

      9/2/10 @ 10:30 am

      There is a tiny dot next to the back camera in the pictures. I’d imagine that is the mic.
      I doubt HDR works for this — even if it did, the pictures would be so small (0.6MP) that a high-end photo feature like that would be a waste.

    Jay Shaffer
    9/2/10 @ 10:28 am

    Now I have to find where to buy the older Nano. I agree that the new Nano is a fail.
    Even though the new Apple TV is designed to keep you buying from iTunes, With the YouTube and Netflix capabilities it’s worth the price. It faces some stiff competition from the Roku and Boxee boxes, I was about to pull the trigger on a Roku, but would rather buy a product with Apple logo on it. Currently I’ve been hooking up an old Mac Mini to the TV and watching Boxee content, but I hate tying up the computer just for TV.

    Ian Mayman
    9/2/10 @ 11:38 am

    I wonder if there will ever be a renting service for Apple TV outside the U.S. Several times a day I hear about Netflix, I know how much it costs per month, I know exactly what they do, and I don’t even live in America.

    With the iPod Touch I was hoping for a proper camera for photos perhaps a flash too. So although I don’t need my minutes or unlimited texts, I’ll stick with my 3GS for $46 per month (nearly lowest price anywhere).

    johnclark
    9/2/10 @ 11:46 am

    Can the Apple TV still stream music as in v1?

      9/2/10 @ 12:13 pm

      Yes. Streaming music and video from your computers is still a primary function.

        Scott
        9/3/10 @ 8:15 pm

        Streaming, yes, but only if your computer is on and available to be a source. What if its not? With the current version, I can see my photos and videos and listen to my music any time I want regardless of the location or state of my computer or the performance or state of my internet connecton.

    iPop
    9/2/10 @ 12:34 pm

    Anybody know why when I ask iTunes to “check for update” I get the response “9.2.1 is current?” Isn’t that how I’m supposed to upgrade to 10?

      9/2/10 @ 12:37 pm

      Try using Software Update. 9.2.1 is the “current” for iTunes 9. But you want to get iTunes 10.

    iPop
    9/2/10 @ 12:58 pm

    I just did what you suggested. It seems to have worked and I’m now up on 10, apparently seamlessly. Thanks again Gary.

    forkboy1965
    9/2/10 @ 1:24 pm

    I’m not certain I see the loss of shooting video on the Nano as anything important. From what I had seen from friends with such the quality was iffy at best. Perhaps some market research (which would surprise me considering it’s Apple) suggested more interest in a mini-touch screen than shooting and watching video?

    And I don’t know how they would have integrated watching video on a screen that is square anyway. You would have had some serious black bars top & bottom to get the proper aspect ratio.

      9/2/10 @ 2:04 pm

      I’ve got one. The quality is actually somewhat OK. See http://macmost.com/recording-video-with-the-ipod-nano.html
      But when you add the fact you have a ton of storage (much more than a Flip) and it is so tiny, and it is an iPod too, you had a great device.
      Watching video at any size is preferable to no video at all. Consider the person on a daily train or bus commute who can use that time to catch up on some video podcasts or an episode of a tv show. Or wanting to simply show my daughter’s latest soccer goal to her grandparents.

    brian
    9/2/10 @ 4:04 pm

    with the apple tv, can you get hulu?
    Thanks

    brian
    9/2/10 @ 4:07 pm

    per Gary, (sorry, didn’t read far enough)

    But what about streaming video services like Hulu? Everyone knows that is what needs to be on Apple TV. Now I know why Hulu isn’t there. The powers that control Hulu don’t want Hulu to be on TV-targeted devices. Hulu is for computers. They don’t want it to compete with cable. And Apple would probably rather sell you TV shows, even at 99 cents, than give you the chance to watch them for free with commercials. But these reasons have nothing to do with the end-user. In order for Apple TV to really take off, it needs to tap into the free with-commercials video streams. Apple just needs to figure out how to get this done. What would work is a small subscription fee to use Hulu on Apple TV. That’s how Netflix works, so the stage has been set

    james
    9/2/10 @ 9:05 pm

    point 1-i’m pretty sure you get to keep your current nano if you buy a new one. so that isn’t really the issue you make it seem as there are millions out there for sale
    point 2-again, if you already have a nano, why do you care?
    3,4,5,6 other devices do this for you
    what a whiny little *****.

      9/2/10 @ 9:28 pm

      Hello James. Thanks for your comment.
      Boy, I can’t win. When I praise Apple I get called a fanboy. When I criticize them, I get called a whiny little *****.
      As for why I care, well it is my job to teach, report and occasionally comment on what’s new. So I’m doing that. If you don’t want to hear other people’s opinions, then don’t read them.
      I think that a lot of people who make up MacMost’s audience would like to hear that I think the new Nano is a product missing two features that were previously in the Nano, at the same price.
      And yes, other devices do have these features. So you are agreeing with me?

        crequu
        9/3/10 @ 3:18 am

        takes lot of time to be so nurturant, you really deserve credit for that!

        Vic
        9/9/10 @ 9:45 am

        Gary, don’t waste your time answering this kind of posts…

    Kevin
    9/2/10 @ 9:52 pm

    Gary, I had much the same reaction to the Nano. I owned a first and third gen Nano (the “fatboy”) and getting video was a big deal then. I don’t think I would buy an iPod that DIDN’T have video at this point. They’ve also destroyed the market for the old Nano games (Pac-man, etc.). I think they’re trying to drive more people to the Touch, honestly. I also believe they removed the calendar and to-do syncing as well as address book contacts from the Nano. In short, it’s now a Shuffle with a pretty screen.

    Brian huffman
    9/3/10 @ 2:31 am

    I could add to this list in recent product and feature releases. I am glad you are saying it. If a product is that different, at least give it a new name. Also, Ping, sigh, I thought the same thing. Do we need such a social media group that is only a portion of things out there that already exist and work better.

    Natalie
    9/3/10 @ 2:58 pm

    What about the “new iTunes Logo”? What’s up with that? I think any 8th grader who can draw, could have done a better job while pretending to listen during 5th period.

    Tony
    9/3/10 @ 10:18 pm

    Gary, great info, thanks for sharing. Quick question regarding new I-Phone 4. I just upgraded from 3GS & now my Plantronics Bluetooth will not sync to save my life. I called Apple & they said they are aware of some problems like this, but offered me no fixes or time line for a fix. Any ideas what I can do?
    BTW, would love to see a review of your thoughts on best bluetooth headsets. Thanks.

      9/4/10 @ 7:59 am

      I guess we’ll just have to wait for a fix. Have you tried Plantronics support too? Maybe they have a solution.
      Episodes like that are hard to do. Even if I could get all of the headsets for free (probably not), I would have to spend weeks testing them and comparing them. Definitely not worth it for one video. That’s why I tend to stick with tutorials as they are more useful in the long run, and make more sense to produce.

    John
    9/4/10 @ 7:04 am

    I will echo the good points conviction overall. Also Crequu has a great point, too.
    Am a little disappointed that the end of the Classic doesn’t even rate a mention. I guess taht it’s appropriate.
    It seems like I’m the only one with the conviction that iPod’s next natural iteration should include wireless headphones. Wired headphones sgrike me as dated given the rest of the technology that we’re seeing.
    I also lament the lack of a camera on the iPod touch. I won’t carry an iPhone till neither ATT nor Verizon are involved (Loooooong time), So I’ll stay with my big classic, till they put a camera on the iPod touch and make Sprint a carrier.
    Thanks Gary, you’re exemplary.
    J

    Wayne Garriepy
    9/4/10 @ 7:47 am

    You’ve mirrored my feelings exactly though I believe I came to them faster. At the end of the event, like Peggy Lee’s song, I asked, “Is that all there is?” Perhaps it was my own fault on two fronts. One, being streamed live, it made me believe something huge was about to happen or else why would Apple feel it necessary. I was the one inflating the reasons.
    Two, Apple usually exceeds our expectations and throws in an extra ‘wow’ factor no one is even aware of. ‘Wow’ never happened. I kept saying, “But what about?” My soul was looking for fireworks LOL. My mistake.

    That was not all.

    I shouldn’t admit it, but my 3 Macs and my 3 iPods are like ‘members of the family’ and to not even acknowlege the role the Classic played was like, “We don’t talk much about Fred anymore since he went off to prison.”

    Maybe we’re the ones responsible for the ‘Elvis syndrome’ with Apple. We build someone up to be King, then tear down the throne by demanding perfection.

    Thanks again for all you do,
    Wayne

    Brian
    9/7/10 @ 8:01 pm

    I’d buy Apple TV in a heartbeat if it supported Hulu and 1080p.

    Mark
    9/7/10 @ 10:03 pm

    I personally don’t get this Ping thing. Seems stupid and is likely to use (waste) more computer resources. iTunes already runs like molasses on a PC. Besides if someone is a friend than I already know what they listen to – and I don’t like it… :)

    G
    9/13/10 @ 5:00 am

    couple of questions I have about apple TV – does it have a built in wifi (airport) capability or does it have to be plugged into an Ethernet port? – Also couldn’t the video playback feature be added to the new nano with a software update it seems like all the structure is there for doing it -also a word of praise! I find you’re newsletter and back issues invaluable to me – THANK YOU!! – g

      9/13/10 @ 5:39 am

      Both the old and new Apple TVs have wifi, yes. Not sure if a software update can add video playback to the Nano 6G — the processor and/or video chip might be too slow. Even if it can, Apple may never do it.

    Jill
    10/1/10 @ 9:15 am

    I’m disappointed about the newest iPod touch and the cameras I was hoping that the camera would be better but it’s not and I would love to be able to watch live tv on the iPod touch is this something that is ever going to happen with them if anyone knows let me know

    Trevor
    11/21/10 @ 9:29 pm

    I have the new apple TV. Can I purchase itunes from the tv or do I have to download on pc. Friend of mine has older version and we do it all the time. Is it just a setting

      11/21/10 @ 9:36 pm

      Do you mean music? The new Apple TV is a streaming device, so I’m not sure. I have never tried to purchase anything on it except rent movies. Try it. But I suspect that you can’t purchase music on it, only stream.

    iPod Repair
    8/24/11 @ 12:30 pm

    The new nano was such a disappointment in my opinion. I’m hoping they get it right this September when the new products come out.

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