Will networks kill the iPod?

Today I sat through a number of account reviews as part of our sales academy training in London. One of the sessions focused on IP based media got me thinking about my iPod. First let me say I love taking my digital content (pictures, movies, music) with me on my travels and therefore love my video iPod. But the iPod for all intents and purposes is the equivalent of a bloated PC. It can only serve up content that is installed locally. Sure the basic iPod model is a cache of a larger master library. But why do I need a cache when networks are becoming more and more pervasive? Is the iPod betting against the network? If so, it is sure to die (in its current form).

I can see a time when either the iPod (and its equivalents) will be "thin" or will die. Thin in the sense that they will leverage the network to deliver digital content in real time. Video, audio, you name it. IPTV is on the rise. 3G networks are being put in place around the world. And WiFi is getting almost as pervasive as coffee bars and drinking fountains. Knowing this, will todays mobile phone become the iPod, PDA, phone, all in one device that some folks are predicting? I think so. Just as Sun has never shipped a product without networking being intrinsic to the offering, mobile phones have always assumed the network. They have to, if they didn't they won't be mobile now would they? Sure the devices will need a cache so content would still be available when, by the odd chance, a network is not available. But if you start with the assumption that the network will be there, it really does open new possibilities in taking your content everywhere. Or maybe better said, being able to leave your content anywhere and at the same time using it from everywhere.

Time will tell, but I for one will would never bet against the network...

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No matter how pervasive the network becomes, the model will always remain library->network->cache->app. This is a fundamental aspect of network programming and is ignored at our peril. However, the (network->cache) part should be come more and more hidden with time, until you will not even realize that it is there. But if the cache is not there, you will never be able to hide the network completely.

Posted by Brian Utterback on October 13, 2006 at 07:59 AM CEST #


honestly, I like to listen to music in places, where I do not like to be relying on networks (for example planes, OK, we DO have networks there, at least in Lufthansa... ;-) (although you and I shared the UA flight back from CEC, me in the back, you in front... ;-) )), and ANYBODY being able to create statistics, on what I listen to when... ;-)

I do get the point you're making, but I'm not that confident with or convinced by it... I still do only have an iPod Shuffle (1 GB), and mainly use it for our internal MP3 communications (inside_sun, innovation_matters, GSS_Show, et. al.), and all my old Walkmans and Diskmans (note the plural and the "wrong" grammar!) died for non-usage, so, I might not be the "correct" demographic here... ;-) And in my car, I still rely on the good-old CD-Changer, and did not replace it (yet?) by an iPod. Also, in trains, in tunnels, network access might not yet be good enough to really provide high-quality music...

But, as stated, I might not be the correct demographic here... ;-)


Posted by Matthias Pfützner on October 16, 2006 at 10:40 AM CEST #

Hi Dan: Nice to see what you have been up to. Pretty impressive. On your comment about the network killing the iPod, it could happen but remember what Peter Deutsch said: "The Eight Fallacies of Distributed Computing by Peter Deutsch Essentially everyone, when they first build a distributed application, makes the following eight assumptions. All prove to be false in the long run and all cause big trouble and painful learning experiences. The network is reliable (1) Latency is zero (2) Bandwidth is infinite (3) The network is secure (4) Topology doesn't change (5) There is one administrator (6) Transport cost is zero (7) The network is homogeneous All the best. PeH

Posted by Philip Helsel on October 16, 2006 at 05:38 PM CEST #

Hi Dan...a number of months ago...good ole Greg P...talked in similar tones about the self-extinction of the iPod :-) see: http://blogs.sun.com/Gregp/entry/how_the_new_ipod_will cheers...jpal

Posted by John Palasz on October 19, 2006 at 12:05 PM CEST #

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