Analysts: Apple’s iPod Photo is living proof that a device can’t serve two masters

“The iPod Photo is living proof that a device can’t serve two masters. The color screen is great, but the iPod can’t really offer a great photo experience with its small screen, recycled music interface, lack of a camera and poor photo-management features. Our advice? Stay focused on music. Keep the color screen–and keep enhancing digital music with iTunes Music Store franchises, podcasts and music subscriptions,” Ted Schadler and Josh Bernoff, Forrester Research Analysts, write for CNET News.

We’ve been living with iPod Photo for three months now. At first, we loved the addition of photos to the music player–the wow factor alone was reason enough to upload photos. But the more we carried the device around, the more we realized two things:

1. The color screen does make the iPod music experience better. Let’s face it: Everything looks better in color. And so does the iPod. Text, navigation and album cover art look great and extremely familiar to those used to working on a PC or Mac. The color screen makes menus more readable, photos displayable and the music experience more delightful.

2. Alas, a color screen by itself does not a great photo experience make. Though the iPod Photo is a fine way to drag a bunch of pictures around to show friends, it’s clear Apple Computer kept the focus on music–not photos. There’s no camera, the screen is tiny, the iTunes synchronization is clunky, the lack of on-the-go photo album creation is annoying, and (for power users) the file structure is tedious. Of course, you can plug the iPod Photo into a television and click through a slide show, but you’re limited to the slide shows already on the device–and you can’t edit them without going back to your computer.

Schadler and Bernoff write, “Instead of adding myriad photo features to the iPod Photo to try to overcome its multifunction challenges, Apple should keep the color screen and basic photo functions; revamp the iPod Photo advertising to emphasize how photos enhance the music experience; and get on with the business of improving the digital music experience.”

Schadler and Bernoff present five ideas to kick-start things in Cupertino in their full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple updates iPod photo packaging, de-emphasizes ‘photo’ – February 24, 2005



  1. Apple bit off more than they were prepared to chew, the market showed them that, and they are now listeing. I’m using mine to show off my new wedding pictures, but bought my Photo specifically for the 60gig and color interface.

    The new price points are fabulous and once the mini is color, the competition will be crying in their oatmeal.

    The “photo” will deserve its name once it has a camera and included (mac/pc) iPhoto software.


  2. Giofoto,
    You’re probably right about the life of the camera being affected by using it as a media reader, but I think the main advantage of using the camera connector is that you can view images immediately after downloading. With the Belkin media reader, I think you have to connect to a computer first.

    In regards to memory cards, the benefit for me would be that I would only need to take one memory card with me on vacation. At the end of the day load the pictures onto my iPod and then go shoot the next day. No need for multiple cameras or memory cards. Although, for a photography enthusiast, it probably would be a hassle to download whenever the memory card gets full, which I suppose could happen a lot when you’re taking a lot of photos.

    Either way, I think there is a lot of potential with the iPod photo (even if it’s not the best solution for serious photographers) and I look forward to getting one now that it is reasonably priced.

  3. Uhhh.. The iPod photo is for holding pictures and showing them to others. Not taking pictures with it. It is not a camera. It is not meant to be a super duper way to display pictures either. It’s just convenient and fun and portable. I think that’s what Apple was going for. And above all it is the best MP3 player out there.

  4. It would not surprise me if Apple was rewriting iPhoto as we speak to work with the iPod Photo. I’m surprised it wasn’t that way from the start. (assuming the article is right, I haven’t purchased or used an iPod Photo, yet)
    It would be a natural way to work.

  5. How a bout a Pod-Cam?

    Would it be possible for some company to come out with a snap-on zoom camera module (without batteries or memory) for the iPod photo and use this combination as a camera?

    Of course, some software on the iPod would be necessary to control the camera. The iPod already has the color-monitor and the click-wheel to control the camera so it should work.

    Why go through the hassle and transfer the photos from a digital camera to the iPod if you can take the photos right away with the beefed-up iPod?

  6. Question:

    If “a color screen by itself does not a great photo experience make”, then how could “album cover art look great” ?? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”question” style=”border:0;” />

  7. 4. Improve AirPort Express with multizone and remote control features.

    5. Extend iTunes to help consumers manage their music libraries.

    Yes, and yes … oohhh YESSS!! I can understand the KISS principle nixing suggestions 1, 2, and 3, but 4 and 5 I’d kill for.

  8. I love my iPod Photo. I’ve never been one to carry pictures in my wallet. When I’m with friends or family that I haven’t seen for a while, I take out my iPod and show them pictures of my puppy, or the improvements to my neighborhood (in Detroit), etc. I always have my iPod with me and I mostly (95%) use it for music. But, it’s a wonderful bonus to have images of the things that happen in my life to share. I now carry pictures in my ‘digital’ wallet.

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