By Richard Menta 3/15/09
A few years back there was a skit on Saturday Night Live where they mocked the ever shrinking iPod to a point where it became microscopic. I think it is funnier that the new iPod shuffle is actually now the size and shape of a suppository, but I will refrain from any scatalogical details. As someone who has had an iPod stolen, there is a clear advantage to an iPod you can hide away easily. Of course, if you have a large couch with a lot of cusions then locating a missing shuffle could border on the homeric.
This is the first iPod without any controls on the unit itself. To keep the form as small as possible the controls are now all on the earbuds. It's svelt, but it also means that until 3rd parties make headphones specific to the new iPod shuffle, only Apple earbuds will work.
This iPod shuffle has another first. It is now the first talking iPod that reads off the track and artist name, convenient for an iPod without a display. We placed odds that a talking iPod would appear back in our September 3, 2006 article iPod: Handicapping the 6th Generation. We gave it 15:1 odds back then and it took 2 1/2 years to become a reality.
But what is really the most interesting story about this new iPod shuffle is not of a technical nature. It is the fact that this is the first iPod to be released without a big, invite only, Apple annoucement event. No weeks of speculation, no leaked AppleInsider documents, No Steve Jobs. Just a press release and there it was. This is not even the time of year when we expect a new iPod. New iPods usually appear in January for the big Mac conference, which Apple longer participates in, or in September/October for the holiday season.
That alone says everything; about the economy, about Apple's sinking stock, about how important Steve Job's face is to the image and brand of this country's most popular corporation.
That's the real story here.
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