An Idiot's Look Beyond The iPod October 30th, 2001
Randy: Hey Gary, do you know what "it" is.
Gary: No, and if "it" is some horrible new growth on your body, I don't want to know what "it" is.
Randy: No, I'm talking about the "Tuesday Device" that Apple announced this last Tuesday. All the popular Mac news sites have been buzzing about Apple's mysterious "breakthrough" digital device for days.
Gary: Oh, that "it." As a matter of fact I do know what that "it" is, indeed. Apple's new FireWire based MP3 player, iPod. This mystery device had everybody guessing. Apple was able to keep an incredibly tight lid on this product. Until last Tuesday's Apple press conference, no reliable information could be found anywhere as to what this "breakthrough" device might actually do.
Say hello to my little
Randy: I heard it was a Mac can opener that let's you record data on the used can lids.
Gary: I saw a mock up of an Airport controlled Mac pet.
Randy: I know a friend of a guy who sells me my morning coffee, who works with a guy who used to sell mock turtleneck shirts to Steve Jobs, who said that it was a totally computer automated version of "Rock'em Sock'em Robots." It uses just two AAA batteries. And you can watch Phil "Megabot" Schiller wail the living tar out of Steve "Robowar" Ballmer for up to two and a half weeks.
Gary: Wow, that's some serious battery life!
Randy: Well, it was just a rumor. Until last Tuesday nobody know for sure what the new Mac gagdie was, except for the one clue from Apple: "It's not a Mac."
Gary: But now the cat is out of the bag and Apple has unveiled their new iPod device.
Randy: The iPod is basically a FireWire music jukebox that fits in your pocket. While Apple touted it as "breakthrough" I feel that statement may be a bit overblown. The elegant design and sleek functionality are certainly pleasing to the eye.
Gary: And don't for get the huge 5 gigabyte storage capacity and tiny form factor. And the fact that it can also double as a FireWire hard drive. And the fact that it will communicate seamlessly with Apple's soon to be released iTunes 2, sucking up an entire album in about 10 seconds!
Randy: Okay, okay! Those really cool features aside, I thought the infamous "Tuesday Device" would be something more, multimedia. Not just a music player.
Gary: I had some ideas myself about what this could have, or maybe, should have been. And you know what that means to me?
Randy: Umm, its time for some wild-eyed speculation beyond the iPod?
Gary: Right you are. Since Apple has already let the other shoe fall about the iPod, we'll call our speculative device iPod 2. I would have thought that the iPod should have been more of a Mac handheld. Ever since the days of the Newton, Mac users have hoped for an Apple handheld to rise from the ashes of the once great Newton technology. And don't forget the fact that Apple still owns all the Newton technology. When Apple closed down the Newton product line they did not sell off the awesome handwriting recognition that they had developed. Perhaps they could have incorporated it into the newfangled "Tuesday Device."
Randy: That would be great but I don't think Apple should jump back into the handheld market right now. There are so many great handhelds that are very Mac compatible. It would be a very tough market in which to start a new niche.
I think Apple should have introduced something even more focused on the "Digital Lifestyle" theme.
Gary: Perhaps an iCar or and iBike that plays MP3s and DVDs.
Randy: Well, no, but not far from that idea. I also imagined it would be a small handheld device. But not one aimed at organizing personal information. A handheld aimed at organizing your digital information.
Gary: Uh, you mean an MP3 player. Hello! That's pretty much what Apple did!
Randy: Not just your MP3s, but your video projects from iMovie and maybe your DVDs too.
Imagine, ladies and gentlemen, if you will
Gary: That's a terrible Rod Serling.
Randy: Thanks. But stay with me here. Imagine a device similar in size to a Newton but smaller. It has a color LCD screen that uses the Newton handwriting technology and has an IBM Microdrive built-in.
Gary: Well, so far you are describing the current iPod, except for the color screen, the handwriting technology, and the drive mechanism...
Randy: Shut up, and don't be such an Idiot! Besides, it gets better. The device also has a slot to allow you to pop in removable Microdrive cards as well, providing you with almost limitless space for storage. And as the final components, the device would have a DVD decoder chip on-board, a FireWire connection, and audio and video in and out.
Gary: Sweet lord, no! That would be one amazing device. You could watch you videos right on your handheld. You could play you music on your handheld.
Randy: You could plug in the handheld to a TV and stereo and play your movies and MP3s for your family and friends. You could plug in your camcorder to the handheld device and capture footage. And you could transfer all of this data to and from your handheld device via the FireWire connection. Even dropping whole DVD movies on removable Microdrive cards.
Gary: Whoa! This is some pretty wild-eyed speculation. But man that would be a killer device.
Randy: The kind of device that would make people go out and buy, or upgrade, to a FireWire equipped Mac that can run OS X just so they can use one of these amazing devices.
Gary: I see where you are going with this. Like the first spreadsheet software showed the world why they had to have a personal computer, a device like this would be the "killer app", if you will, for Mac OS X.
Randy: Exactly! And I have a name for this fantasy creation. I shall call it the Mewton!
Gary: The Mutant?
Randy: No, the Mewton. You know "M" for movies, or music coupled with idea or the original Newton handheld.
Gary: The Mewton? Humm...I like it! But for now Apple has the iPod. And it is a sweet "made for Mac" device that is, I believe, the best portable MP3 player I have seen to date. So if you readers haven't seen "it" yet, be sure and check it out!
Randy: Maybe we can get our ideas included in iPod 2. What do you guys think? Phil, Steve, Avi,...anybody?
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .