Monday, October 1, 2007

What's That Thing?

Apple has extended its line of portable music players, so it now includes the barely visible iPod Shuffle, the slightly larger iPod Nano, the downright clunky iPod Classic, and the latest arrival, the iPod That-Looks-Like-An-iPhone.

This last member is, theoretically, designed to exploit all the cool technology of the iPhone in a thing that plays music. Of course, we know the real purpose is to make your friends think you're important enough to need an iPhone, when in reality you're a loser who needs AC/DC pumping into his head to consider himself (or herself) conscious.

If I built a gadget that combines music, TV and Web browsing into one appliance, I would not call it a music player. But the iPod moniker has that connotation ... it's a portable music player. Apple has been trying to expand that concept, adding first video and now Web browsing, but I think most people see the iPod as this century's Walkman.

In general, the term computer will become obsolete, as everything will be an intelligent appliance of some sort ... media players, communicators ("Kirk out"), toasters, etc. It's not clear yet whether we'll need a whole new vocabulary to refer to these intelligent devices (e-viewer, e-toaster, etc.), or whether we'll simply change our definitions of the old terms (a "TV" is a flat-panel, cable/satellite-ready, multi-input device, right?). But if we're going to coin new terms, let's at least make them interesting. Pod? If an iMac is an Internet-enabled Macintosh, and an iPhone is an Internet-enabled phone, than an iPod is an Internet-enabled ... what, pod?

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