A World Without Wires

4 06 2008

First Generation iPod

Since its founding, Apple has designed products aimed at changing the way we use technology. From early computer offerings like the Apple ][ to today’s iPhone, Apple has always changed the way we interact with technology. And Apple, since the introduction of the first AirPort base station in 1999, has continually pushed for a world with fewer wires and more elegant connectivity.

It started with the the Macintosh Portable in 1989. While the Macintosh Portable was a small step towards a portable, wireless device we have become accustomed with these days, it suffered from several fatal flaws- it was large, slow, awkwardly shaped and expensive. As a result, the Macintosh Portable didn’t sell as well as Apple would have liked. But Apple didn’t stop there. They followed the Macintosh Portable with the PowerBook, and it stuck. The PowerBook lived on Apple’s product line from October 1991 all the way to January 2006 when it was replaced by the MacBook Pro. Since then, Apple added the iBook and, recently, the MacBook Air.

Let’s step back a few years. On October 23, 2001, Apple Computer, Inc. released what some consider to be the most revolutionary product of the past decade: the iPod. The iPod took digital music and put it on the go. Suddenly, you could have thousands of songs at your fingertips without changing a single CD. Over the course of 5 years, Apple’s iPod reached the pockets of more than 30 million. To date, Apple has sold 150 million iPods.

Flash forward to January 2007, when Steve Jobs announces the iPhone. Apple redefines another mobile device. The iPhone went past cell phones’ old limits in a manner only Apple is capable of. The iPhone is reinventing the cell phone market like the iPod did for portable music.

With the imminent release of a new iPhone and iPhone firmware 2.0, Apple is moving us in a direction that will change the way we interact with technology once again. With the help of our favorite Cupertino company, we are being set free, and moving to a world without wires.

Life Fitness Exercise Machines and iPod Integration

29 04 2008

When I was traveling in Atlanta, at the Marriott-Atlanta Marquis, the fitness room was equipped with new Life Fitness machines that had iPod integration built into each machine. More details follow below.

Life Fitness iPod Interface
The Life Fitness iPod Connection Area

Although it has been known that Life Fitness was including iPod support for over a year now in it’s new machines, this is a small overview of the interface.

Basically, when you walk up to one of these machines, you will see this:

Life Fitness iPod Interface Splash Screen
The Life Fitness Interface Splash Screen

To use and charge your iPod, you simply plug in the iPod to the Dock Connector, place it in the storage bin and direct your attention to the screen. The iPod automatically goes into Disk Mode and is ready to use with the machine. If you want to listen to music, you plug your headphones into the jack on the machine.

Once connected, you are presented with a number of different options from TV to your workout and related settings. However, in the bottom right hand corner, there is a button that says “Media Center”. By pressing that (using the touch screen) you are directed to a screen that looks like the one below:

Life Fitness Main iPod Interface
Main iPod User Interface on the Machine

This interface is almost identical to the iPod UI- and you can use the dedicated buttons on the side or touch the titles, which was a nice, (almost) iPod Touch like experience. You can watch both videos and listen to music while working out, however I was unable to test the video feature because my iPod is full (quite literally) of only Music; seeing as I have a collection of Music that is over 60GB and only a 30GB iPod (5th Generation).

While the interface was very good, however it was slightly disappointing that you can’t shuffle playlists. It seems to default to how the playlist was originally laid out in iTunes, so for me, by Artist. The integration into the existing Life Fitness interface was a little disappointing as well, as it seemed a little clunky and not very intuitive. But what can you expect for a product not from Infinite Loop?

Life Fitness iPod Inerface Now Playing
The interface with a song playing.

Why 40% of all College Students Plan To Buy a Mac

4 04 2008

Recently, it has been estimated that over 40 percent of all perspective students plan to buy a Mac as their next computer.

Buy a Mac
“Buy a Mac and get a free iPod Nano” campaign

Last Wednesday, a report from Morgan Stanley revealed that 40 percent of all college students plan to buy a Mac as there next computer. However currently, Apple holds a 15 percent stake in the higher education market share. This indicates that this back-to-school season will see very strong Mac sales to students and Universities which are the most valuable customers.

Often Apple adds more incentive to buy a Mac by offering Students a $200 dollar rebate for a new iPod, or free iPod nano. This allows college students to save money, get a new iPod and helps Apple clear out stock of an iPod line nearing replacement. For the past two years, Apple started this campaign, “Buy a Mac and get a free iPod Nano” on June 5th, which is just before the back-to-school shopping season starts.

As Apple’s computer market share increases, we could attribute the gains to strong iPod and iPhone sales over the past few years, coupled with the Apple Retail experience and good brand affiliation. We could also look at the declining state of the Windows marketplace, mainly, Vista. Students, and the young crowd have always been a strong supporter of Apple. The ‘iPod Halo Effect’, may be coming true- the people who love their iPods or iPhones buy Macs and fall in love with OS X and iLife.

It is interesting, writing about the exact market which I fall in- I will be entering college as a freshman this fall. I can say, first hand, I have seen countless friends switch from a PC to a Mac for college throughout my years in high school, and I have yet to hear someone switch back. I know of many friends, some more tech-savvy than others; who plan to switch to the Mac for their next computer this summer. What appears to be a growing trend, these college students will not only help Apple now, but in the years ahead as well.

Noted in the same Morgan Stanley report, when the current college students matriculate into the workforce, Apple’s market share will be accelerated, much like Linux adoption during 1998-2003. Linux saw a eightfold increase in adoption, with 16 percent of all servers shipping with a distribution of Linux by 2003, compared to 2 percent in 1998 as Linux users found there way into the workplace.

With aggressive pricing and technical configurations, superior software and support, Apple can continue to drive more and more people to the Mac platform, be it College Students, IT professionals or businessmen. While the PC wars ended years ago, the competition has not ended- Microsoft has let their guard down. If 40 percent of college students intend on buying a Mac this year, what will it be next year? Only time will tell, but I will certainly be revisiting this article again in September and revealing what happened.

Record Labels: Ghosts of the 20th Century

13 03 2008



Last week Trent Reznor released a collection of instrumental tracks independently, in a surprise move even his fans couldn’t anticipate. The collection, called Ghosts I-IV, was done in a ten week period last fall, produced mostly by himself and a few of his friends. The album’s first 9 tracks can be downloaded on Bittorrent officially for free, while users can also choose to download just the music and a 40 page PDF for $5. If listeners really want a physical product, they can pay $10 for two CDs, $75 for a deluxe edition, or $300 for a limited edition with vinyl, CDs, and even a data DVD of all the multitracks.


Astoundingly, the download site was hit with so many requests that it had to be shutdown for several hours so it could handle all the traffic. Thankfully for some, the album was still available on Amazon, where this author was happily able to download 36 high quality tracks for the very low price of $5. Most people would see this as just an attempt to copy Radiohead and gain free publicity; however, by looking deeper into the way the idea was executed, it is clear that Trent Reznor takes it one step, if not three steps, into the future of the music industry.

Read more…

New iPod Touch Print Ad

13 12 2007

Today, my brother showed me the back of Sports Illustrated, and there was a cool iPod Touch Advertisement.

iPod Touch Print Ad