The Ultimate iPod Accessory

December 31, 2004


Like everybody else, I’ve been hearing all of the talk for the last few days about the “iCheap”—a rumored sub-$500 Mac (ThinkSecret) that will supposedly be announced at MacWorld Expo next month.

“With iPod-savvy Windows users clearly in its sights, Apple is expected to announce a bare bones, G4-based iMac without a display at Macworld Expo on January 11 that will retail for $499.”

This obviously seems like a good idea (and long overdue), but I didn’t really think about the positioning of this until last night.

I was having a conversation with my oldest, who was getting ready to go, notebook in hand, to help one of his friends who had a new Xmas-gift 20gb iPod.

It turns out that the only access the kid had to a computer was his mother’s ancient Windows laptop.  Which had about 2 gig of space on it, and couldn’t even run iTunes.

Then it hit me, like a ton of bricks.  An entry level Mac, priced down in the iPod pricing range.  While a lot of us may think this is a great way to get Macs into the hands of the windows-benighted, that wasn’t the point.

This thing is designed to be another piece of consumer electronics gear, to sell iPods to those who have had no interest in acquiring computers otherwise.  It’s 2005 (in a few hours), and in a still fairly large demographic, owning a computer is boring.  Owning an iPod is cool, however.  But it doesn’t do much good without something to load it, and buy music off of iTunes Music Store.

We’ll know in a few weeks whether this thing really exists, and how it’s actually packaged. My bet is that it’s attractively designed to be parked right close to the stereo, where it can be hooked up to play music in addition to docking the iPod (well, maybe not—but $125 for an Airport Extreme cures that, too). 

The real kicker would be TV output (built-in or a reasonably priced accessory).  This would let the TV be used as a makeshift display for the iTunes user, but it would also position Apple to cut loose with their own PVR / media center, which would make a lot of sense given their ever-increasing consumer electronics presence… Put a Mac on the electronic hearth, and it’s going to get a lot more natural to find them around the rest of the house, too…


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