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Excerpt from "Next Gen iPod"
Jul 28, 2003 :: Michael Sippey

ipod.jpgFollowing is a brief excerpt from a concept doc outlining potential features of the next generation iPod...

Ship the iPod pre-loaded with content. To start, this could be a fantastic way to introduce folks to the Apple Music store -- not only top hits, but also back catalog tracks, indie artist type stuff, or Music Store exclusive b-sides. Content could be prepended with audio bumpers of Jeff Goldblum intoning tag lines like "Rock and roll will never die, it's just being reborn. Visit the Apple Music Store today through iTunes." Books would even be more appropriate. Pre-load a sampler chapter from three or four best selling titles (one King, one Clancy, one Oprah-like pick, and one pop business or self-help book), and bumper them with promos for subscriptions.

An iPod that's shipped with, say, 250 pre-loaded tracks offers rich opportunities for market segmentation, channel diversification (sell the country iPod in the guns and ammo section of Wal-Mart?), device customization (through and price point differentiation.

Enhance the UI and iSync to enable Tivo-style interaction. The iPod and Tivo share more than a few characteristics: they both enable the user to manage and experience entertainment content, they both are made possible by the ever-decreasing costs of local storage, and they both share a similar interface metaphor. But to date we've missed out on an opportunity that Tivo takes advantage of brilliantly: the ability to provide rotating promotional content and messaging as a component of the menuing system.

Imagine similar functionality on the iPod: when you sync your catalog with iTunes, the device uses iSync to fetch new content to insert into the iPod UI: headline news, sports scores, weather well as promotional content for the Music store, quick surveys, email program opt-ins, third party ads, etc. Give the user the ability to opt out of the marketing content, of course, but provide micro-incentives like's nickel-incentive trivia program towards song purchases at the Music Store.

There's prior art to leverage here: AvantGo and Vindigo have supported ad click synching, upchannel user-generated reviews on the Palm device for years. (Could make patenting this difficult, however.) And a good portion of our users are already one-click enabled on iTunes -- one iSync later and their preferences are migrated to the device.

Shift the store to the device. Combine the pre-load concept with iSync enhancements, and all of a sudden we have the opportunity to shift the Music Store point of purchase down to the device. Based on playlists, we could sync down user-customized serendipity database which would display messages on the device while a track was playing. "Like this song? You also might like X, Y or Z." And then a follow on option to "add this track to my preview playlist at the Music Store."

Or, getting more aggressive, we could carve out 3-4 gigs of a 30 gig unit, and stuff it with encrypted content, just waiting to be micropuchased song-by-song at a discount off the list $0.99 price using on-device one-click. Or offering book content by the chapter, putting the purchase decision as to whether or not to continue to the next chapter in the hands of the listener while they're in their car or on the bus. Next time the user syncs, their purchase history is iSync'd back to the Music Store for settlement.



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