TV-PGJune 2, 2004: Based on a 60 GB hard drive ship date from Toshiba, it seems that the fourth-generation iPod may not surface until September. Meanwhile, the Appleless Macworld Expo in Boston has only signed up 40 exhibitors with less than six weeks to go, and a sudden influx of UK-friendly material into the iTunes Music Store's library has some folks wondering whether the Euro iTMS is just around the bend...
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Eh, What's 3 More Months? (6/2/04)

Wuh-oh, time to stomp on the brakes, folks-- looks like there's a smattering of circumstantial evidence implying that a fourth-generation iPod won't be hurtling earthward anytime soon. Of course, that depends largely on your definition of "soon," but we know some people think the new devices must be slated for an intro any day now, what with thirteen months having passed since the third-gen models made their debut. And that might still happen, sure, but like we said, there's at least one hint that the new models won't show up until-- and this is where the relative nature of the word "soon" comes into play-- September. Frankly, time moves so quickly for us these days, September might as well be tomorrow, but we know that for some of you that's an awfully long time to wait for a new iPod to arrive.

See, here's the thing: faithful viewer mrmgraphics sent us an InfoWorld article about Toshiba's 1.8-inch hard drives, which are the shrimpy lil' storage device of choice for discriminating non-mini iPods everywhere. And apparently there's a new model that's been announced, which will let you pack a whopping 60 GB of data onto a drive that you could accidentally swallow. (Well, provided you're a carthorse or a hippo or something, or you have a freakishly wide esophagus. Sure, the drives are small, but your average homo sapiens isn't going to accidentally inhale six of 'em or anything like that.) If Apple ever pops these babies into its new 'Pods, you'll be able to stuff 15,000 songs in your pocket, give or take a few thousand. Because, as we're sure you'll all agree, everyone should have a full month-and-a-half's worth of music with them at all times. It should be a law or something.

Well, we've got some good-and-obvious news and some less-good-and-less-obvious news. First of all, Toshiba "has already found a customer in Apple Computer Corp.," who has an unspecified number of the higher-capacity drives on order. So unless Apple's planning on sticking 60 GB teeny-drives in some mysterious non-iPod device, provided you've got the cash to blow, you will in fact be able to do that 15,000-songs-in-your-pocket thing before long. (That's the bit you can file under "duh.") But don't go committing felonies for funding just yet, though, because those 60 GB drives won't go into mass production until "July or August," implying that Apple might not be able to get them into a shipping product until up to a month after that. That fact, in conjunction with new info from some of the site's "most reliable sources," has prompted AppleInsider to report that the fourth-gen iPod now won't arrive until September.

Of course, Apple could introduce fourth-gen iPods without upping the current storage capacity, although it doesn't sound likely. And the flip side is that Apple could also bump the current third-gen models up to 60 GB come September without bothering to upgrade anything else, as they've done in the past-- although that's a really long time to go without a fourth-gen upgrade, so we doubt that, too. So yeah, sounds like there's a major iPod revision scheduled for the end of summer; plan accordingly. And if you were hoping to buy a fourth-gen iPod loads sooner than that, well, consider the up side: lugging around a whole extra six ounces of consumer electronics at the height of summer might well have given you heatstroke. So consider yourself lucky.

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"He Shoots He SCOOOORES!!!" (6/2/04)

Attention, all viewers who are planning to attend Macworld Expo Boston next month (all six of you): any thoughts on how we can make the best use of all that extra space? Seeing as the show will be held in Boston's brand spankin' new and oh-so-spacious convention center, and considering that there'll probably only be maybe two dozen attendees who'll bother to show up at all, and taking into account a truly startling reduction in vendors so far, we're thinking we can probably set up some killer games of floor hockey. On ATVs. Are ya up for it? C'mon, we'll do shirts versus skins, wear binoculars, and establish an elaborate semaphore-based code to signal our teammates from all the way across the show floor. It'll be great.

Okay, so it might not be quite deserted enough for ATV Floor Hockey, but we're betting there'll at least be enough empty floor space to let us build the world's longest Slip 'N' Slide. See, MacMinute says the upcoming show may well turn out to be "desolate," and we're not at all convinced that's an exaggeration. Scope out the official list of exhibitors and you'll see what MacMinute's talking about: there are only 40 vendors currently listed, and with less than six weeks to go before the show opens (tick... tick... tick...), we don't think there's much hope of the show coming close to its former numbers.

Consider this: last year's summer Expo in New York had 130 vendors, so as of right now we're probably looking at a 70% reduction in booth swag-- and that's just compared to last year, which was itself a show with a reduced Apple presence. Compare this year's 40 exhibitors to the 245 who showed up in 2002 and we're actually talking about a whopping 84% shrinkage from the last summer Expo with a Stevenote. So how many attendees are really going to bother showing up for 84% fewer free logo-emblazoned ugly t-shirts and oversize novelty paper clips? Especially since most of the major players in the Mac market are noticeably absent from the vendor list (Adobe; Macromedia; even Microsoft, despite the recent Office 2004 release), and smaller vendors don't usually have the cash to blow on quality promotional crap to give away. It's gonna be a sea of cheap ballpoint pens, we just know it.

Oh, sure, there's a far greater emphasis on the conference tracks this year (gee, we wonder why?), so there may be a fair number of professionalish Mac users showing up primarily to learn Things About Stuff™ off in the conference rooms, but the show floor sounds like it's just going to look, well, kinda... skeletal, maybe. So if you're not into the conferences and there are only going to be fortyish vendors on the show floor, why should you bother showing up? Well, IDG World Expo says you should come because "cool things happen when Mac users meet!" And you know, they're not wrong-- what's cooler than scoring a game-winning hat trick slap shot sixty yards from goal while clinging to an all-terrain vehicle belching exhaust at 70 miles per hour?

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Just Call Us "Plate Captain" (6/2/04)

Heads up-- Euro iTMS check! Anything? No? Okay. It's just that it's, y'know, June now, and what with the repeated murmurs about Apple finally breaking off a piece of that iTunes Music Store goodness for Europe (you may know it as "Yurp") sometime in mid-June, we're starting to get a little antsy. In particular, we're a bit concerned about Napster's head start in the UK, which is where the whole download thing is really starting to heat up in that cozy little corner of the planet. For instance, Reuters notes that "Britain's fledgling market for legal music downloads broke the 500,000 mark for the year this week," compared to "virtually no legal downloads" a year ago.

"Only 500,000?" you scoff. Well, okay, it sounds low to you. But while the iTMS occasionally sells about that many songs to U.S. customers in a day, it's important to remember that: 1) the iTMS isn't available in the UK yet; 2) Napster just launched over there, so it didn't sell any of those half-million songs, either; 3) the only largish download service in the UK is apparently OD2, which powers several independently branded sites like the utterly inexplicable; and 4) compared to the U.S., the United Kingdom is relatively eentsy, with only a fifth of our population. (It's a "quality over quantity" thing, we're sure.) All told, half a mil for the year to date sounds pretty good to us.

Meanwhile, the real reason why we're half-suspecting the Euro iTMS to pop up any second now is because UK-dwelling faithful viewers Shaun Woods and Colin Partridge both note what they independently perceived as an anomaly in this week's iTMS "Just Added" list-- specifically, the addition of a disproportionately large number of new tracks by UK or UK-popular artists such as Dido, Mis-teeq, Duran Duran, Five, Will Young, Kylie Minogue, Westlife, Annie Lennox, Bucks Fizz, Five Star, and lots more. Both Shaun and Colin theorize that Apple may be prepping the iTMS library for an imminent UK debut, especially since, for example, Will Young is reportedly practically unheard of to the iTMS's current U.S.-only market, but is a former "Pop Idol" winner and therefore the UK equivalent of that Ruben Studdard fella. (We're taking their word for it, since we have no clue what may or may not be popular with the kiddies these days in any country; as Zaphod Beeblebrox once said, we're so unhip it's a wonder our bums don't fall off.)

So, UK viewers (and hopefully those of you in the rest of Yurp), there's a decent chance that it won't be much longer now. And if you're looking for something to do while you wait, we might as well make this a catch-all UK scene and pass along what faithful viewer Slartibartfast told us: apparently the UK eNews issue that went out recently included a coupon for recent Apple UK customers, and it contained a bit of a slip-up. The £18-off voucher was supposed to be for purchases greater than £179, but was instead listed as good for any purchase over-- well, £18, meaning you could get US $33 worth of stuff essentially for free. And reportedly Apple is being a good sport (and presumably complying with UK law, we're guessing) and honoring the offer as printed. So check those inboxes, folks; pick up a free £18 Dr. Bott iPod Auto Charger for your car or something so you're ready once the iTMS opens.

Which will happen any second now.

Euro iTMS check!

Anything? No? Damn.

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