Apple VP of hardware marketing Greg Joswiak has admitted that Apple considered including a screen and an interface for navigating the iPod shuffle, but was unable to devise a system with which it was happy.
He told Macworld: "There are lots of flash players that require you to do a lot of navigating. We wanted to be much simpler. We looked at making the iPod shuffle with a screen but we were not satisfied with the small display.
"We didn't want to make something that would mean consumers would have to torture themselves navigating an interface through a small screen."
Instead Apple set about challenging the idea of what a flash player should be, which is where shuffle comes in. Joswiak explained: "We wanted to change the rules. What helped was seeing how popular the shuffle feature was with the existing iPods. It is the most popular way for iPod users to listen to their music."
"We also found that people get tired of adding new music to their devices. They end up leaving the same music on their flash player. We wanted to make it really easy to update it at the touch of a button," he added.
Apple has attacked this new market with the intention of being market leader. "We have hit the market hard with leadership pricing. We have doubled the capacity point for less money," said Joswiak.
It was noted that the iPod shuffle takes much longer to update with music than the hard-drive based iPods. Joswiak explained that this is not on account of the USB interface, but instead due to flash memory being slower than a hard drive.
Referring to the company's recent difficulties meeting demand for the popular music players, Joswiak joked: "We'll do our best to build a lot, but we've got out of that game of trying to guess demand. Customers have continued to amaze us – in a good way!"
Joswiak does not believe that the iPod shuffle will take customers away from the other iPods. He referred to the iPod mini, saying: "When that launched it everybody said that it would take customers away from the iPod, but it didn't. They are different products. This is a different product and it will take the iPod to a different market, one which couldn't afford the price of the normal iPod."
The decision to make the iPod shuffle only in the standard white was also defended by Joswiak. He explained: "White it the signature colour for the iPod. It defines the product, in fact it defines the category."
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