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iPod Generation Gap

June 30, 2005

The good folks over to the iPodlounge have been struggling to decide just what to call the “new” iPods.

By the same token, calling the new iPod the “color iPod” would be short-sighted, because the next iPod will certainly also be a color iPod. What do we do for next year’s model – call it the “second color iPod?” Fifth-generation works much better, as it’s more future proof and better references the iPod’s storied history.

The other point is more important. Apple’s still working on new designs, no matter whether people call the new iPod “fifth-generation,” “fourth-and-a-half generation,” or “color iPod.” If you’re upset about the “fifth-generation” name because you think Apple’s resting on its laurels and won’t release something better – and soon – just think back to last year’s late July release of the fourth-generation iPod. It only took Apple three months to unveil the more powerful iPod photo, and less than a year to do away with the black-and-white fourth-generation design altogether.

It would certainly help if Apple would manage to name each set of releases itself (whatever happened to the good old days of “project names” on Apple products, like the Pismo and Lombard Powerbooks of yore?).

It would help even more if they’d actually refresh the whole line. It doesn’t make sense to call the 40 and 60 gig former “iPod Photos” 5th generation, since they’re apparently the same product as they were last week, just with a lower price.

On the other hand, a color 20 gig and a color “U2” iPod are something new under the sun.

The worst problem with this is that the “generation number” is usually how the aftermarket identifies which accessory to sell with which device.

I was bit with a bit of this yesterday — after I decided it was time to break down and buy a 60 gig at the new lower price — when I went to Vaja to shop for a new case.

I’m reasonably sure that buying a case for a “4th Generation 40gig/60gig iPod Photo” is going to get me the right case, but at Vaja’s price for custom cases, I’m going to be one very unhappy iPodder if that doesn’t turn out to be the right case.

(Update)

Apparently Apple considers these models to still be 4th generation — more details here.

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