People expect a great deal of Apple’s iPod, and though it dominates the MP3–player industry the complaints still come thick and fast; complaints of its battery life, its lack of in–built audio recording, lack of WMA support… you name it.
There’s no contest though: iPod is simply the best MP3 player on the market, just pick one up and use it side–by–side with any competitor, but it’s those “missing extras” that make it less competitive. Do I think the iPod should hyper–extend itself and risk all it has become just to satisfy the noisy dissidents? Hell no. What I do picture, however, involves a little divergence. (and maybe a little convergence, too)
The word on the street is that Toshiba will be producing 1" hard drives some time in the near future, and the rumors have it that Apple will snap them up in an instant for the iPod. That’s fine, as far as I’m concerned; a physically smaller hard drive is a double–edged sword. It allows Apple to continue their slimming trend with fourth–generation iPods while giving them a little extra room for a bigger battery. Third–generation iPods (with the existing 1.8" hard drive) sacrificed battery size (and thus, battery life) in the push for a smaller unit. Smaller hard drives will give us a fine balance between the two, and the iPod will be all the better for it.
The vision I have of the future, however, doesn’t just include the iPod. Just as the distinctions between Apple’s iBook and PowerBook lines allow more features for the customers with the larger wallets, I’d be interested to see a “PowerPod” of sorts. It’d be larger than the aforementioned 4G iPod (though probably around the size of a 3G iPod), but the payload would be that much sweeter: microphone and line–in recording, a color screen, an integrated digital camera… you see where I’m going with this. The PowerPod wouldn’t just be an MP3 player… it’d be the digital hub you carry in your pocket. Syncing with iTunes, iPhoto, iCal, Address Book, your favorite newsreader, and whatever else they deign to integrate, such a device would be the ultra–portable laptop replacement you need now that your laptop has replaced your desktop.