Look at the total system
Posted by aogThursday, 30 March 2006 at 09:43 TrackBack Ping URL

Instapundit is gushing about the iPod Nano. I received one myself for Christmas and I think it’s quite nice as well. I read elsewhere (sorry, lost the link) someone writing that the iPod is succeeding despite the fact that it has less features than its competitors. I think this misses two key points:

  1. Features that you don’t use aren’t missed. I don’t use all the features on the Nano as is, so it is effectively as featured as its competitors from my point of view. Given that, the form factor is what led me to pick the Nano. It’s small and light without being too small and light.
  2. The perceived feature set it not just what is on the hardware but the supporting software as well. A few years ago, it was important to have features on the hardware because that was the only place to put them reliably. With the rise of broadband, USB 2.0 and other technologies, a mass item like the Nano can depend far more on a host system for features. I basically don’t use any controls on the Nano except “Play” and “Stop”, doing all other activities in iTunes.

The key thing is the overall design of the system, including not only the hardware but the supporting infrastructure as well. That is one of the best aspects of Apple’s corporate culture and the iPod is dominating because of that.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
cjm Thursday, 30 March 2006 at 19:27

feature bloat is what you do, when you have no clue of the essence of the “thing”.

i heard this story, perhaps appocraphal, of this tv maker in the 50’s. after an engineer finished a prototype of a design, he would start pulling out components (tubes!) until the circuit failed, then put back the last part removed. “muntzing a circuit”.

Jeff Guinn Friday, 31 March 2006 at 06:30


Well said. Elegant simplicity is far harder to achieve than the term itself would imply.

Steve Jobs has engendered three revolutions: the first ubiquituous personal computer, the desktop metaphor, and the iPod.

If I owned a radio station, or stock in Sirius/XM Radio, I would be very, very worried about podcasts.

As if I wouldn’t already be terrified by the increasing presence of iPod interfaces on new cars.

Jeff Guinn Wednesday, 08 November 2006 at 06:34


You hit the pod on the start button — offhand, and probably even with a great deal of thought, I doubt I could think of anything more elegantly designed.

We recently bought a new car with the Sirius option, but without the iPod interface, as it wasn’t available yet. Bad choice, we should have waited.

For the price of Sirius one year’s subscription, we could have had a new iPod and an interface. Of course, we won’t have to worry about subscription costs, as we won’t listen to Sirius once the interface is in.

There will only be one thing missing to make this the perfect storm for broadcasters: Blue Tooth in the car could synch the iPod with the home computer, including, of course, podcasts.

That the car manufacturers are so bad at software will buy the broadcasters a few more years.

Almost nobody is responsible for even one cultural revolution; Jobs starts three. Has that ever happened before?

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