Apple's new iPod mini music player began to ship in the US Friday at 6pm, and a flood of media attention welcomed the debut of the new product.
Dedicated iPod Web site ipodlounge.com has published a unique in-depth report looking at the new product: a reader who acquired one of the new gadgets only to take it apart, publishing images and a full report through the site.
The reader is an industrial designer and is confident he will be able to put the product back together. The report reveals the products made from: "A Hitachi 4GB Microdrive, Sanyo Lithium-Ion battery pack, top plastic cap, two tiny screws, LCD display on circuit board (PortalPlayer chip under white label), anodized aluminum shell (Silver) and bottom plastic cap." This report warns readers "not to take their own minis apart".
Multiple media sources published reviews and opinion relating to iPod mini over the weekend. What follows are a few selected highlights taken from the clamour.
iPod mini is smaller and more lightweight than its higher-capacity sibling, and many reports, while generally welcoming, warn of the new product's lower capacity.
Associated Press describes the 4GB iPod mini as a "wonderful choice… if you can live without as many songs". Nevertheless, it describes the new music player as a "sensible alternative" to flash-based devices, and praises the mini's "portability and convenience". The report praises its 25 minutes of skip protection: "more than any other product on the market".
A product review from PC World begins: "Fashionable iPod mini provides digital music in style at its debut". Predicting the product will "set sales records" on its release, this review castigates iPod mini pricing ("it's a bit pricey"), and offers an account of the mini's features.
TechTV offers the product four stars in its review, agreeing that the price-per-megabyte of storage seems higher, this report praises the products: "Sleek styling; small size; and excellent integrated scroll pad (Click Wheel)".
Additional reviews appear across the global online media – from the Times of Oman ("Finally someone has outdone the iPod", the click-wheel is "revolutionary") to the New York Post, which says: "Apple Computer hit the cultural jackpot yesterday as its rainbow-hued iPod Mini – a portable jukebox barely larger than a business card – hit the streets with a roar."
It reports queues of music-starved consumers lining up in Apple's New York retail store, thousands of enquiries on Apple's lines about the product, and one shopper who had been sent with stern instructions to buy one by his wife: "I missed Valentine's Day, I was out of town, so I asked her how I could make up for it, he said. She said 'Get me a mini, so here I am, out in the cold."
However, many reports – such as that from Californian title the ContraCostaTimes focus on price: "Cool, colourful and too expensive", it begins, tempering the criticism somewhat by calling Apple's iPods "the best portable hard-disk players".
Along with a feature-set run-down, this author reports the recent debate regarding battery-life and a fault in pre-production reviewers' units that meant the product would "freeze" at times. Apple has said the latter fault has been fixed in shipping units.
Colours are calling
Macworld US has a report confirming the hubbub across Apple's retail stores as punters ordered the company's well-publicized product. Today's Mac 911 describes a 40-person queue. A straw poll among the females there gathered revealed pink to be the colour of choice for many of them; the report also found that many acquired multiple products.
Stock availability may be limited, it appears. Apple employees distributed tickets to those in the queue, each in different colours. No guarantee was given that customers would get the colour they wanted.
This is the sound of the city
The ContraCostaTimes also looks at why music players are so popular in a report entitled: "Apple iPod people use music to tune-out sounds of the city".
"Not a few New Yorkers also notice that, corked off from reality by their ear buds, iPod users are gumming up the works of the city. They stand in line at Starbucks and at banks, unaware that the person at the counter is yelling "Next!", the report says.
It's not just iPods, the report explains: "Since the Walkman arrived in the United States in 1980, New Yorkers have been using gadgets to tune each other out, and cell phones have certainly done their share to complicate social relations."
Urban dwellers use such products: "to ignore, snub and look through one another," the report warns.
Asked about the phenomenon, Apple vice-president for hardware product marketing Greg Joswiak agrees a small minority of "antisocial types" may use iPod to tune out reality, but said: "It's a little wacky to look at it that way, when the iPod has brought so much happiness into people's lives."