This is, in short, a nightmare scenario for long-time iPod fans: are we entering a world in which Apple controls and taxes literally every piece of the iPod purchase from headphones to chargers, jacking up their prices, forcing customers to re-purchase things they already own, while making only marginal improvements in their functionality? It’s a shame, and one that consumers should feel empowered to fight.
I am a big fan of Apple, but they have a very annoying habit of nickle and diming their customers on overpriced adaptors, plugs and cables. There are too many instances of this to mention, but one example is switching to the new mini display port (mind you there are no monitors using this when this came out, and probably only one right now – a $1000 apple monitor) meaning that people who were plopping down a whole lot of cash for Apple’s computers needed to go shell out another $29 for the adaptor. Every now and again Apple seems to get wise, the new Mac Mini’s include a mini dvi to dvi cable, nice… And the 3G iPhone moved to using a flush headphone port rather than the recessed for no reason on the first gen, meaning lots of us went and bought adaptors, special headphones, etc.
Well now Apple has really gone and done it, and I mean this is really nuts, they have limited the newly released iPod Shuffle to using only Apple headphones (that contain the controls) or to Apple licensed headphones that will contain an authentication chip, yes that’s right an AUTHENTICATION CHIP IN THE FREAKING HEADPHONES. This is not a step forward, this is a huge step backward. You know how each cellphone charger doesn’t work with other brands, well they are working to get a universal format (micro usb I think is what they have planned). Thankfully for music the mini plug has long been a standard and we don’t think twice about what kind of headsets you buy. Apple has said enough and the Shuffle will limit you (at least if you want to control the tracks, volume, etc).
Mind you the Shuffle was already a less than stellar device, kind of an afterthought of Apple to get into a cheap MP3 market and charge a premium, I bought the 2nd generation shuffle as I am already a heavy iTunes user and its nice for the gym, but other than that it doesn’t have benefits over other mini MP3 players.
I am sure this tiny MP3 player will still sell well for Apple, but its really disappointing to see such a horrible design (I already don’t like the idea of controls only on the cord) and adding to people the prospect of only having overpriced headsets available or having an adaptor that will probably be $20 or $30 (due to the chip) when it comes out. Oh well…