I just got Silverlotus an 1GB iPod Shuffle for Valentine’s – one of the first to grace Canadian shores (The box even came with a free song promo for the American iTunes Store).
One thing I was struck by was Apple’s obsessive detail into the end-to-end user experience. The Shuffle is small, simply designed and solidly built. The earphones are confortable to wear. The iTunes media library software makes buying, sorting, playing and transferring music a breeze. Especially the buying; with three clicks you can buy a song and have it ready to play on your iPod.
Critics charge that the Shuffle is a lame duck, since it has no built-in LCD screen or FM radio or salad tosser. They just don’t understand that making a good product doesn’t mean fulfilling a giant feature checklist; first and foremost it has to be intuitive, reliable, and attractive.
That’s Apple’s great secret to success. It’s not exactly rocket science! iPods control 80% of the hard-drive-based digital music player market because all its competitors use clunky interfaces, buggy firmware, nonexistent technical support, terrible media library software, and are encased in a cheap looking faux chrome enclosure that only a blind engineer could love.
Only Creative has come close to understanding this with the Zen Micro.
UPDATE: Apparently David Gilbraith agrees: “Apple is a great vindication of ballsyness rather than MBAness. Jobs is our generation’s Frank Lloyd Wright.”
People say that Apple is just a big reality distortion field generator, but if the shoe fits, wear it. Case in point: the story of the Graphing Calculator. It was part of a cancelled project that an Apple contractor decided to finish by sneaking into the building and worked with no pay for six months. It shipped on twenty million PowerMacintoshes.
P.S. One thing I didn’t get Silverlotus: a romantic dinner at White Castle.