To be of use to others is the only true happiness. Although a 160 GB iPhone would also be nice.

I was hoping Apple would announce a new generation of iPhones with hard drives sufficient to hold an entire music collection plus a handful of videos. Failing that, I was hoping Apple would announce a new generation of iPods that were exactly like iPhones (sans the phone), with hard drives sufficient to hold an entire music collection plus a handful of videos. What Apple announced was an iPhone without the phone.

So I bought a 160 GB iPod Classic. I already have an iPhone, and you can borrow it when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

The Classic holds my digital music collection (currently, 31 GB) plus five or six movies digitized at high enough quality to play on a Cinema Screen, and has acres of drive space to spare. I feel that I will never fill it up, although I’ve thought that about every hard drive I’ve ever owned, and I soon filled them all.

The Classic is new and shiny and I almost never use it because the classic iPod interface feels prehistoric after using an iPhone. (Indeed, half the things I do on a computer feel awkward compared to doing them on an iPhone. Click on a friend’s street address in your iPhone. Wow! Now do the same thing on your computer. Ick.)

There are about five movies my toddler loves on the Classic, but she won’t watch them on the Classic. She wants the iPhone and asks for it by name, like cats do for Meow Mix.

The Classic is good for plugging your whole music collection into your stereo. Or it will be when the dock arrives. The Classic does not ship with a dock, and no dock is made for it, but you can order a $50 Universal Dock from Apple. The order takes four weeks to process plus another week to ship. Be kind and call those five weeks a month. A month after unpacking my new Classic I will be able to hook it into my stereo and charge it at the same time—something I expected to be able to do on the day it arrived.

The frustration of that wish is not tragic, but it is not particularly smart marketing, either. This, after all, is a product for people who ardently wish to carry their entire music collection plus a handful of movies in their pocket. Wish fulfillment is the product’s whole reason for being. (Well, wish fulfillment plus the execrable state of air travel, which can turn a jaunt between Chicago and New York into an odyssey of despair and boredom. Carry a Classic and those five hour delays fly by, even when nothing else is flying.)

The guaranteed nightmare of even the shortest business trip aside, what do you do with the Classic? Well, I sometimes bring it to the gym. Because sometimes at the gym, it takes a while to find the right groove. The iPhone’s 7.3 GBs aren’t enough to hold a sufficient musical selection to ensure a great workout.

On the other hand, I can’t answer a business call on my iPod. So even though the Classic gives me lots more music to choose from, I mostly bring my iPhone to the gym.

No iPod is an island, or should be.

Did I mention that the iPhone has a gorgeous, high-resolution screen and the iPod does not? Then there’s the whole gesturing with your fingertips business. How nice that feels, and how weird and slow and un-Apple-like it now feels to go back to the clickwheel that once felt so poshly smart and modern.

I tell you this. If Apple can put a capacious, chunked-out hard drive on the iPhone—even if doing so makes the phone a tad clunkier—the company will have on its hands its hottest convergent technology box yet. And I’ll be the first in line.

Only 95 shopping days ’til Christmas, Steve.

[tags]apple, ipod, iphone, comparison, shopping[/tags]

43 thoughts on “To be of use to others is the only true happiness. Although a 160 GB iPhone would also be nice.

  1. The sad part is that it could have been an option at launch. What you suggest should have been considered “expected” and yet, the ball drops and no one is there to pick it up. (Yet.)0

    I think people would excuse the misfire if the iPhone were easily upgradeable, but it isn’t.

  2. I’m assuming that it has everything to do with solid state vs. hard drives. I doubt that it will ever come to fruition, however, because that would eliminate the need for having multiple iPods and iPhones. If there was only one device…where would Steve get all his money to shovel?

  3. Your post isn’t helping me, I’m doing everything in my power currently to not drop Sprint for at&t and the iPhone. You make it sound like the end-all solution (if you don’t factor the small drive space).

  4. We, or rather I, avoided the whole iPod craze until only recently. Now our happy little family of three has five iPods kicking around (Shuffle, Classic Nanos and Classic iPods). We’re addicted to the convenience ; )

    Years ago we hauled around cassette tapes. Throw twenty in a bag and off you went with your Walkman or for a drive. Then came CDs. The bag that carried twenty could easily hold 50+ CDs. Now we’ve got the iPods with enough memory to store hundreds and hundreds of full length CDs/Albums.

    I love having 200 plus albums (and counting) in one portable device. Just got the car tricked out for the iPod yesterday. What a treat!

    What bothers me about all this digital space is the amount of time that goes into filling them up. I now live in fear of dropping or banging one of the 80 gigs hard enough that it has to go back for repair/replacement. I know what you’re saying about wanting a 160 gig device that fits in a shirt pocket but… . It scares me trusting so much time (rip and copy) in such a small device.

    I’m still going to move another 10-20 CDs to my iPod this weekend. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just sayin’… it scares me having all that time invested in one-little-device.

  5. I too was hoping for a higher-capacity iPhone, and just plumped for an iPod classic figuring I could drop my entire music collection on to it, instead of having to do my bimonthly dance-of-the-music-changeover on my old 20Gb player. However, I got it home only to discover that my external HD housing my music collection was toast, and so I could have fit my remaining music on the smallest iPhone after all.

    The iPhone, it is calling to me.

  6. You americans. You’re so funny. Be thankful you at least have the choice of products to gripe about. Down under, the ONLY way we can empathise with you is if we fly over there and get an iphone in the US, then hack it to work on our local networks when we get back.

    At least you guys have some kind of iphone to grumble about.

  7. The amount of times I’ve had this very conversation in the last two weeks. I’m in the UK and I was really hoping that when they announced the iPhone release date last week they were also going to upgrade them to at least a 16gb model.

    My real dilemma is that I only just bought an 80gb iPod late last year and I’m already trying to think up hair-brained schemes as to how to ‘accidentally’ break it so I have to renew it with a Touch (I’m also currently doing the same with my ancient 32″ CRT behemoth of a television – just got married, wife is tightening the purse strings, grrr). 16gb is my threshold I think. I wouldn’t be thrilled but I could deal with it.

    By the way, you should save that $50 from the dock and put it towards this beauty. No, I don’t work for Bowers & Wilkins but I can tell you that the sound quality is truly amazing. Worth every penny.

  8. I’ve got a 4 gig card in my Treo and I can find a groove whenever and wherever, whether I’m in the mood for the Chicken Dance, some classic ELO, or some high BPM techno, it all fits in 4 gigs and leaves room for my “The Next Food Network Star” audition video.

    Given, my music collection is over 20 gigs, but do I always need my extensive collections of Christmas music and TV theme songs? I put on the stuff most likely to get me through at the gym or office, it fits in 4 gigs, and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

  9. something I expected to be able to do on the day it arrived

    This is something that surprised me as well. I just replaced a 3G ipod with a 160GB Classic, and was pretty upset that I had to buy the dock (which they had plenty at the Apple store, so I lucked out there). The only things that comes with the Classic are a pair of headphones and a usb cable.

    With my 3G (correct me if I’ve omitted something or added something extra), I got a dock, headphones, a headphone extension cable with the remote on it, extra headphone pads, firewire cable, firewire adapter (from the big to the little), an AC adapter that the firewire cable plugged into, and a little bag.

    I hate having to pay anything for the dock, but $50 just pissed me off. And I can’t charge if I’m not near a computer.

  10. You know, the thing I don’t understand is how with as green as society has gone, people still go gaga over devices with batteries you can’t replace yourself. Ergo, you are left with two choices: the carbon hit (ship it to Apple to replace the battery) or the landfill hit (buy a new one).

  11. @Jack: I am still using my 3rd generation iPod (tiny monochrome monitor, MOMA clickwheel). Its battery life has lessened over the years, but it still lasts long enough for a workout. The iPhone was my second iPod, the Classic my third. I don’t dump Apple hardware and I don’t compulsively buy it. I don’t know anyone who does that. Most people I know who appreciate Apple products pay close attention and think before they buy.

    I get where you’re coming from and appreciate it. But I don’t think people are compulsively and irresponsibly buying and discarding Apple hardware.

  12. If Apple can put a capacious, chunked-out hard drive on the iPhone, that works with Nike+—even if doing so makes the phone a tad clunkier;
    I’ll be the first in line.

  13. I think people would excuse the misfire if the iPhone were easily upgradeable, but it isn’t.

    I think a million people and counting have excused the “misfire” :) A higher-capacity iPhone would be killer, just like a 3G iPhone or a GPS iPhone. Given that Apple dropped the price 33% to try and sell more during the holidays, I think weight and battery life, rather than greed, explain iPhone’s specs.

    $50 does seem a bit steep for a dock though. Did it always cost that much?

  14. No iPod is an island, or should be.

    Here’s a thought, bluetooth connection from the iPod Classic to the iPhone. Then you can carry your library around with you and watch it in style too.

  15. @Paul – Yes. And I am one of those people. I love my iPhone. However, when I take a look at the power Apple is gaining in the industry, I’m left surprised that this misfire couldn’t have been corrected with a little more of their … velvet hammer.

  16. I feel your pain. I hear they are coming out with an iPhone sans Phone (i.e. the “iPod Touch“)… but a 16 Gig hard drive is all there is to look forward to! Hmmm… I think they can do better.

    Good luck!

  17. Spot on. Even an 80Gig HardDrive in the Phone would be fine with me. But 8 Gigs is just not enough for all the media.
    The current product line seems pretty crippled. The touch without mail – wtf? Having Safari only is just one lame excuse to not only offer Wifi to sell you itunes tracks…

  18. I think Ara is on to something – bluetoothing between the big capacity iPod and the iPhone. That would do it for me.

    If indeed I had an iPhone.

    Or a Classic, for that matter.

  19. Though Apple hasn’t sold me yet on the iphone (the plans offered by AT&T are my beef at the moment) they’ve certainly convinced me that I’m not interested in any other smart phone on the market at this point. Everything else seems archaic compared with the touch interface. If data + pay-per-call plan and/or API and/or larger or expandable storage features come around I may be swayed.

  20. I think the world would be a better place if we renounced all material possessions and concentrated on the spiritual.

    For that reason, you might want to abandon that iPhone and send it my way.

  21. Just bought the 80gb iPod classic. Borrowed an iPhone for a week to play around with it. Decision: Yay for iPod, No-go for iPhone. I’m a geek, but the iPhone is too distracting for me. Everytime I sat down to to do a task under 30secs … 20mins later, I’m still poking around doing other stuff. And the wowness wore off in about 3 days for me. After that, it was just another “computer in my pocket”. Don’t get me wrong … iPhone is def a beautiful piece of work. Guess it depends on your personal preference with these gadgets tagging along with us. As for iPod classic … yay! Way too much space, but now I can really build a great digital library :)

  22. For me, the iPhone has completely replaced my iPod. While I would love to have all of my music and movies on me at the same time – I have let it go for the convenience of one device.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t plug my iPhone into my Mac to charge – it just takes a little pre planning to make sure I have what I want, when I want it.

    And I agree 100% about going from the iPhone UI to anything else, it’s just too amazing.

  23. I acknowledge that Ara is on to something with the Bluetooth link between the classic and the iPhone. But that is NOT possible or feasible at the moment. Bluetooth’s bandwidth, while it could work for audio (assuming they’d go with BT2.0, since 1.1 is dated and considerably slower), it would be a hard time passing video, and I don’t see Apple investing in an “audio only” solution for they “video” iPod! :) I won’t go into details about the technology itself, but even though BT2.0 could achieve a max theoretical bandwidth of 2.1Mbps (which would be plenty for both audio and video, at those resolutions), it’s… theoretical! You’d need “perfect” conditions, have the devices next to each other (wouldn’t you just rather leave the classic on the backpack? :p) and.. be lucky there would be few other BT devices (or any wireless devices for that matter) disturbing your signal or you’d have music skipping, bad quality and drained batteries!

    But since the iPhone already has Wi-Fi… how about adding a “special” Wi-Fi (noooo… don’t think Zune here… pleaseee! ;)) that would integrate with both iPod touch and iPhone’s…. :o (just thought of that as I was writing the problems with BT).

    Jeffrey, I sincerely don’t think a HDD-based iPhone would EVER come out. But SSD are getting bigger (and cheaper) by the day… Wait a few years and you’ll have your wish of a 160Gb iPhone come true! :p (by then, HDD-based iPods would be carrying around 750Gb HDDs anyway :p).



  24. I was amazed when I first heard about the 160gb ipod classic. That’s 40,000 songs or 200 hours of video! I think you need 2 life times to fill that up!

    Someone told he thinks ipod hard drives are basically dead. And from now on its going to be only flash. I guess next year’s ipod models will tell…

  25. Ah, the iPhone.

    I have July 21, 2008, the date my contract with Sprint expires, marked on my calendar… in the days leading up to that magical date I will see whether an iPhone is right for me. I hope another, greater revision of the iPhone comes out by then, maybe even with the hard drive capacity you’re talking about.

    > She wants the iPhone and asks for it by name, like cats do for Meow Mix.

    Not to quibble or anything, but cats ask for Meow Mix by name because the default sound they make is “Meow.”

    I have a hard time believing your toddler’s default sound is “iPhone” (though, since she is your daughter, maybe it’s not out of the question). ;)

  26. The main problem I have with the iPhone is that it lacks the tactile feedback of a clickwheel. I can, entirely without looking, change volume, pause/unpause, fast forward, rewind, rate and scrub through the track I’m listening to on my 5th-gen iPod, entirely without looking. This comes in mighty handy when in the car.

    Try doing THAT with the iPhone or iPod touch!

  27. I’m with you all the way. However, there’s the neverending resource question.

    First off, all this comes from a great web article I read and I should be shamed for not being able to provide the link.

    Let’s talk about power consumption.

    Power consumption for 160GB hard drive (vs a flash drive). Power for an all-screen device that owners may want to use to watch movies. Power for the radio devices (WiFi on the low estimate and cell radio, WiFi and bluetooth on the high estimate).

    Now let’s talk about (sloppy) use case scenarios.

    You wake up in the morning and take your iPod off the charging device and listen to 15 minutes of music on your way to the gym. Then you listen to 45 minutes of music at the gym. Then you go to work and listen to 6 more hours of music. You listen to another 15 minutes of music on the way home.

    7.25 hours of hard drive spinning and earbud-powering time.

    Also during the day you do about an hour of surfing the web via your iPod (during lunch or checking how a site looks on your iPod or showing someone how fun it is or just for the hell of it).

    1 hour of screen-intensive and radio communications time.

    Then over the course of the day you watch about an hour of video (last night’s TV episode, Your Great Movie, whatever)

    1 hour of screen-intensive + hard drive powering time.

    So over the course of the day your iPod power consumption habits break down like so:

    8.25 Hours of hard drive platter spinning
    2.00 Hours of screen very bright use
    1.00 Hours of radio communications use

    Imagine now the battery required to sustain this usage. Now slap that battery onto a slightly thicker iPod Classic (gotta give room for the full screen all the way down the form factor).

    That’s the real problem, the battery.

    Or the user behavior. Maybe you can change your habits such that you don’t mind limiting yourself to a mere 14GB (the OS and the marketing math must take up something of that 16GB drive right?) of data. Apple hasn’t changed user behavior before though so maybe no dice. ;)

    I’m going on and on in a comment and it’s your blog, sorry for that. Great post.

  28. I just love my newly hacked iPhone and would happily go through the process of weeding through my music collection and cherry pick only the finest tunes to squeeze onto the IPhone’s drive but as slick and wonderful as the iPhone interface is ( and my God is it ever) the fact of the matter is that I use my iPod a little differently. When I’m commuting into work I touch control my classic iPod, by which I mean I know how to work the scroll one handed to jump from song to song, lower and increase volume and I can do all of this without raising the iPod to my eyeline which I really like. So if i can find a headphone set with some sort of controller which allows me to access the iPhone’s navigation without having to look at it for those times when it’s not convenient, then I’ll truly be one very happy camper.

  29. I found this post rather amusing when we all know that creative or Archos make the best mp3/media/ all round brilliant devices and not Apple. Have you used th Archos 605 Wifi? It’s mega! The screen has great resolution and you get internet too! Also, I just don’t really like apple ;-)

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