What I Don't Want for Christmas

by Chris Adamson

Santa Steve has been mighty good to us this year... a new iPod, the G5, iTunes Music Store, Safari 1.0, Panther, XCode... the list goes on.

But there are a couple of items that the pundits and the rumor sites say we might see in 2004, and if it's all the same to y'all in Cupertino, don't bother with these:

  • The Video iPod - Oh it seems so obvious: iPods are cool, QuickTime is cool. Why not put put MPEG-4 on your iPod and take your movies with you? Um, because:

    • You can't rip DVD's, at least not practically or legally

    • You can't really do anything else while watching video, whereas the iPod is all about doing other things while taking your CD collection with you

    • A 2"x2" screen? What is this, QuickTime 1.0 on a Centris? Get real.

  • Tablet Mac - Again, the pundits think it's obvious: handwriting recognition is cool, WiFi is cool. But if this is such a cool idea, then why is the Tablet PC such a flop? Can you say "solution in search of a problem"? I wonder if these stupid things will ever sell even as well as the Newton.

  • Apple flat-screen TV - Well, why not? It seems like every other computer manufacturer is selling TV's. And the iPod is a consumer electronics smash hit, right? Eh. For one, Steve is known to loathe television. Moreover, I don't think Apple's core competencies come to bear here - "it just works" may be shocking in the computer world, but it's a basic assumption in consumer electronics. In fact, I'd be afraid to buy a TV from the big PC vendors... unless the box says it's certified Microsoft-free.

  • Anything "Extreme" - "Quartz Extreme"... "AirPort Extreme"... Final Cut Pro's "RT Extreme"... please give it an "extreme" break already. Nobody wants "Apple Works Extreme".

  • The continued existence of a US-only iTunes Music Store - OK first off, let's note our high esteem for Apple, that we're asking even more from a company that has (as people smarter than me have noted) basically reinvented the music industry for the sake of selling more iPods.

         But in the next 400,000 songs that get added, could we have a few that don't suck?

         Seriously, my music store experience is usually something along the lines of "Can't find 'Thelonious Monk'. Did you mean 'Monkees'?"

         I admit my tastes are atypical - I don't think I've bought a CD from an American act in at least a year. It's all been Canadian, British, and especially Japanese. Every year at Anime Weekend Atlanta, I typically blow at least $200 at my favorite legit CD vendor, and it would have been more this year had they not been sold out of Sakura Taisen ("Best. Videogame-inspired musical theatre steam-punk anime. Ever."). As for American music, we've got the no-talents from American Idol (a TV show in which people who can't sing are gradually eliminated from the contestant pool, crowning the least bad singer as the "winner"), inane hip-hoppers with tedious beats and straining-to-be-pornographic lyrics, and even worse rockers replacing bad guitar solos with bad raps.

         So I import CD's of music I can stand, because the CD format works everywhere in the world. Regionally-controlled online music distribution takes away that benefit, reducing my choices to a big bag of suck. Granted, a very big bag, with a nice interface, but still a bag of suck. Y'know, the internet was supposed to give us more choices, not less.

         This is really the music empires' fault, and maybe they'll catch up with the 21st century at some point and work out world-wide licensing schemes. In the meantime, Reuben and Clay are not getting any blocks on my iPod, thank you very much.

What else belongs on our anti-wish list?


2003-12-15 19:28:40
iTunes Music Store
My musical taste is also pretty non-mainstream & eclectic. I was thrilled to see Johnny Clegg & Juluka, one of my favorites, as one of iTunes featured artists.
2003-12-15 20:23:24
Monk in iTMS
I know the iTMS experience was stated as being _like_ not finding Thelonious Monk and being recommended the Monkees, but...for the record, it's worth noting that iTMS carries 32 albums from Mr. Monk.

As for mainstream American music being in such a sad state, I cannot really argue, though I can highly recommend Vienna Teng's debut album "Waking Hour" -- sadly, unavailable on iTMS. (Closer to Monk, Al Di Meola's "Flesh on Flesh" is similarly both outstanding and unavailable on iTMS.)

2003-12-16 06:08:54
Non-US iTunes Music Store
I live in Brazil. While I too would like to be able to buy music through the iTMS, $0.99 per tune is more expensive than buying a locally-issued CD at any store here (for $7 to $10). Even for imports the price difference is rarely enough to make up for the lack of an actual CD with box.
So they would have to adapt the prices to local conditions, which would raise all kinds of other issues... I see no easy solution for that.
2003-12-16 08:21:53
Non-US iTunes Music Store
Although I feel that iTunes is a superior product to Windows Media Player I have had to delete it as I am unable to buy anything here in the UK. Why is that ? Currently $0.99 per tune is about what we'd pay here for a typical CD, so it's the convenience factor that would win me over. Assuming of course I'm actually allowed to buy ...
2003-12-16 09:27:38
Right on!
I loved what you wrote about the Tablet PC - "Can you say 'solution in search of a problem?'" So true. I've always felt that all a TabletPC is is a bigger Windows Mobile PDA. That said, where is the line between PDA and Laptop these days? Isn't there be one? Should there be one?

One thing that you neglected to mention is the rumour that Apple would enter the cell phone market. Anyone have thoughts on that? Would it work, would it fail? Would anyone care?

2003-12-16 09:28:46
All I want for Christmas...
...is iTMS to be availbale globally. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when the iTMS was first released and was only available in the US. To me this undermined the fundamental basics of the Internet by ascribing geographical limitations.

Plus I live in China and music is hard to come by here so it annoyed me that I could window shop but was barred from buying anything. It feels like "No foreigners please, Americans only!"

So while I appreciate that you want a greater choice of music available on iTMS - I just want the choice.

2003-12-16 09:40:30
No anime CDs in iTMS yet
I've been looking for those there too, and nothing has shown up yet. Come to think of it, I haven't seen anime CDs or tracks show up on any of the legit music services yet.
2003-12-16 09:45:00
Yeah. Anime soundtracks. THAT is something that iTMS should focus on. Goodness knows nobody would buy those Kelly Clarkson songs if they could lay their hands on thoze kewl anime tunez.

As for Mr. Monk, try searching for "Monk".

2003-12-16 09:47:14
Non-mainstream music
All I have to say is, if the iTunes Music Store were to let me buy video-game and anime tracks online, I'd *REALLY* need a personal allowance to avoid emptying my bank account every month!
2003-12-16 10:08:47
Tablet Macs on the Way?
iWrite -- the Tablet Mac?

A company called "Appple Computer" applied for a trademark for 'iWrite' with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on September 13.

Of course Apple also owns "iphone.org"


2003-12-16 10:22:46
1. I said "I admit my tastes are atypical..." I'm not looking for what the mainstream wants, nor do I think many others share my interests - the point of this section is to explain why 400,000 mainstream titles doesn't necessarily cut it, and why the worldwide-compatibility of CD's is an asset the ITMS lacks. I suspect you listen to something better different than Limp Bizkit too. Or maybe not.
2. I also said "my music store experience is usually something along the lines of...", not that this is the actual result of a search. It's called exaggeration for comic effect.


2003-12-16 11:10:21
Non-US iTunes Music Store
Why would you want to delete iTunes just because of the store's unavailablity? I use iTunes since it first came out, all my CDs are on it (over 300) and the whole library's on my iPod too. The store is just a small part of iTunes, else it wouldn't have any users outside the US.
2003-12-16 11:16:15
Right on!
Re: an Apple cell phone... is there a problem here for Apple to address, some way they can achieve an advantage? Is there something that mobile phones don't do well that Apple could fix, or a re-thinking of what a mobile phone is? Answering those questions would point to whether Apple's likely to get in or not. iPhoto, iPod and iSight come from Apple's deep understanding of media and user experience issues. If there's going to be an iPhone, I think it'll be because Apple thinks they can do something different with phones.

Which is a fancy way of saying "good question... I dunno."


2003-12-16 11:45:08
Right on!
Yes, there is an advantage: an Apple phone would synchronize with iCal and Address Book fully and correctly. It would also look good. It might even play music. And be very expensive :)
2003-12-16 11:50:49
Nor do I want anything "radical" or "to the max"! ;)
2003-12-16 11:56:01
Why I want a video iPod
I want a video iPod.

More accurately, I want an audio iPod that, oh by the way, will let me watch video occasionally. I'd pay an extra $75-$100 for this feature, but I'd still mainly use the iPod for music.

Where would the video come from? Well, Dr. No was on TV over the weekend and my TiVo recorded it. I didn't have time to watch it, but I've got a plane flight coming up. So TiVo --> iPod would be one place. (Maybe Apple could convince a TiVo licensee to create a TiVo box with an iPod dock built in.)

Another source would be those TiVo-like products for the Mac.

And maybe Apple would be able to convince the DVD lawyers to allow a DVD to be copied, in low resolution, to up to three iPods (or even one iPod).

Finally, how would the hardware have to change? The screen would have to be bigger and of course in color. Perhaps it could extend like that new Palm, or perhaps the controls could fold over the screen like the Sony Ericcson P800. And the battery would have to last for at least 6 hours of video playback. Could they do all of this for an extra $100? I don't know...

2003-12-16 15:14:26
Tablet Mac
-- But if this is such a cool idea, then why is the Tablet PC such a flop?

Because Windows doesn't have a technology like Inkwell as a system service.

AFAIK Mac apps wouldn't need to be wrewritten to use handwriting technology in them

Windows apps need to be rewritten and who in the heck is going to buy a special version of their software just for their tablet.

2003-12-16 15:35:51
I understand taste out of the mainstream (Uli Jon Roth, anybody?) but Apple had to start someplace and when you're starting out, Kelly Clarkson makes sense (full disclosure: I don't own any Kelly Clarkson but she has a heck of a voice). With indie artists flooding into the store these days (check out the "Just Added" section for this week), the ball is really out of Apple's court and in the labels'. At this point, if anime soundtracks aren't in the iTMS, it's the fault of the labels and not Apple.
2003-12-16 16:29:12
at last someone who knows want they DON'T want for christmas...

i would like apple to just stay a computer company just as their name describes... no tvs..no tablets... nothing like that...

apple should just make the ipod, itunes, and the music store and thats how far i reakon they should go... NOT TVs...

but if apple made a tv i would consider buying one... but i hope they don't

2003-12-16 17:23:52
iTunes and Monk
A search on Monk returns 250 songs, most of them from Thelonius
2003-12-17 05:30:51
it's called defensiveness for argument's sake...
2003-12-17 08:23:41
Right on!
I dunno, my 3650 does a pretty good job of this already... and it was FREE after rebates from Amazon. I don't think I'd ever get that kind of deal from Apple.

2003-12-17 09:53:51
re: Tablet Macs on the Way?
One thing I'd really like to see is an iPhone for the home. Make it a 900 MHz cordless phone (so it doesn't interfere with the 2.4 GHz band and screw up wireless), give it Bluetooth, and let me sync my Address Book contacts with the phone.

I'd buy that for a dollar.


2003-12-17 10:03:43
Why must television be reduced to searching for That Which Sucks The Least?
I gave up TV this year and good riddance. There's nothing there.
2003-12-22 19:19:49
A good friend of mine is a road manager for a folk musician. He tried mightily to get listed on iTMS, and has now succeeded. Rounder has licensed its entire catalog to Apple, and now you can find folk artists aplenty (including John McCutcheon). There are other artists who only have a few albums listed, e.g. Bruce Cockburn, but that is probably a matter of slow or stupid record companies and time. Actually, most indie or smaller companies would probably recognize the value of iTMS far more quickly than mainstream labels. It's just that Apple had to go with the most popular stuff first to show it was a success.
2003-12-31 08:18:59
Why I want a video iPod