March 01, 2006

Stereo Types

Apple's big day came and went yesterday, and after all the hype and speculation, they introduced a few anticipated items - the iPod Hi-Fi, effectively an Apple-designed stereo that interoperates with iPod, a souped up Mac Mini with Intel at the core, and oddly enough, a $99 leather case for the iPod, with even fewer options than much cheaper alternatives from third party vendors. Across the blogosphere, and in the analyst and media community came a resounding, "that was it?"

It's amusing to see the transition of the Apple faithful's antics to the mainstream. For those who often frequent AppleInsider or Think Secret, hoping for the latest rumor morsels to spill out of Cupertino, what's actually presented never measures up to expectations, and Apple fans always leave wanting more, and begin speculation anew for new dates to match their hoped releases. It's always been this way, and anybody watching Apple knows that Apple's stock always goes down on the day of announcements - in a cycle best known as "buy on the rumor, sell on the news". Yesterday, of course, was no different.

Examining the iPod Hi-Fi as a potential consumer - and I have to take that role with every announcement, I'm not very impressed. The iPod Hi-Fi is a very clean stereo system for integrating with the iPod, but that's where it begins and ends. As mentioned earlier on this site, I picked up the iHome iH5 for Christmas this last year, and not only does it already do everything Apple's new iPod Hi-Fi does, but it also features an alarm clock and AM/FM radio. If I were really expected to get rid of my home stereo as Steve Jobs suggested yesterday, then where is my solution for listening to A's baseball games on AM radio? Is he anticipating that as I have all my music at my fingertips, I may never need AM/FM again? Is it expected that I will instead resort to streaming radio online - beamed to the iPod Hi-Fi through my Airport Express, or simultaneously run the iPod Hi-Fi with Apple's $49 FM tuner for the iPod? It's not going to happen. I'm not so silly as to demand a cassette deck or CD changer - for iPod covers that, but if I'm expected to toss out my 50-disc CD changer with Dual cassette, clock and AM/FM radio in exchange for the iPod Hi-Fi, there's a lot more left to include.