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Data Storage Businesses Handhelds Apple Hardware

Mini-iPod Mystery Drive Unveiled? 434

Posted by timothy
from the melts-in-your-mouth dept.
squiggleslash writes "One of the aspects of the '2G mini-iPod' rumour that's so far made it unlikely is the lack of a tiny, cheap, 2G, drive. Well, today Cornice has announced a 2G hard drive (PDF, 100k) that fits the bill. It's available for about $70 in lots of 100,000. The Mac Rumour sites are going faily nuts over this for obvious reasons. The reason the drive is so cheap is that it contains virtually no driver electronics, there's not even a memory buffer - this is the equivalent of a 1980's RLL or MFM drive. At $70 it seems unlikely that the mini-iPod, assuming it's announced tomorrow, will be under $100, but on the other hand the original iPod sold for the same price as the harddrive inside it. Here's hoping..."
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Mini-iPod Mystery Drive Unveiled?

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  • Finally! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GrievousAngel (220826) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:31PM (#7887640) Homepage
    I can ditch my cheap-ass knock-off and get the real thing!
  • Other uses (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pvt_medic (715692) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:32PM (#7887651)
    While this may allow for an iPod that I can finally be able to afford. I am more interested in the implicationgs for other handheld devices like palm pilot. This is just another step towards having fully functioning PC in a handheld device.
  • Jesus, that gave me a flashback! A bad one too. For a second there, I was reliving shelling out $200 for 64Mb of PC66 RAM. But seriously, what kind of seek time does a micro 2Gb drive have with no buffer and virtually no electronics? And how many platters is it/could it use?
    • by msgmonkey (599753) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:37PM (#7887691)
      Well even seek times of even 100ms would be more than acceptable for playing back compressed audio. Transfer rate would n't need to be high either, 0.5mb/sec would mean most songs could be cached to memory in a few seconds.
      • by Seehund (86897) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:49PM (#7887801) Homepage Journal
        Well even seek times of even 100ms would be more than acceptable for playing back compressed audio.

        That's impressive. I've heard of portable audio players with seek times of up to several minutes.

        I think they're called "Walkman" or something like that.

        Aah, memories... PRESS PLAY ON TAPE.
        • Ah yes,
          Press ">>"
          One-one-thousand
          Two-one-thousand
          Three-one-thousand
          Four-one-thousand
          Press ">||"
          Damn! It's a minute into the third song.
          Press "<<"
          One-one-thousand
          Press ">||"
          Well, close enough...
      • If I recall correctly..
      • by wrmrxxx (696969) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @01:14AM (#7888363)
        The marketing brochure at the Cornice web site lists the transfer rate for the new drive as 4.5 MB/s (that's megabytes, not megabits), or more than 280 times the rate required for 128Kb/s audio playback. You need it to be much faster than the audio playback rate so that you can run the drive only for some of the time and cache the data in memory, therefore using less power.

        It also lists the average power consumption for typical audio playback as only 4mW. That assumes that you have 32MB of memory available as a cache and that the audio is 64Kb/sec.

        Interestingly, the brochure also claims that the electrical interface to the device uses true IDE mode. Using a well established standard like this means that just about anyone could interface with it - I would love to get my hands on one of these to put into my own MP3 player, but it doesn't look like this company is particular interested in selling single drives to people like me. Using a standard IDE interface also means that existing hardware and software drivers can be re-used: for example there are USB2 to IDE bridge chips that could (in theory) connected directly to this drive for a portable MP3 player, and there is also plenty of GPL'ed code for interfacing to IDE devices.
  • BOM Cost... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jasno (124830) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:33PM (#7887657) Journal
    $70/100k? So maybe apple buys 500k and gets it for $55.. Add in the electronics and case tooling... Probably costs apple $90 to make. That'd put the cost around $150-$180, unless they want to sell it at cost, but then its still pushing $125.

    Just my 2 cents...
    • doubt they would sell them at cost, if you remember correctly, apple makes little or no money off itunes, it uses it to promote the sale of ipods. (Was on /. a while back)
    • Re:BOM Cost... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by laird (2705) <lairdp@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:45PM (#7887759) Journal
      "70/100k? So maybe apple buys 500k and gets it for $55.. Add in the electronics and case tooling... Probably costs apple $90 to make. That'd put the cost around $150-$180, unless they want to sell it at cost, but then its still pushing $125."

      I think that even at $199 a 2 GB iPod could really excite people. $150 would be pretty amazing, but then Apple's margins would be pretty low (relative to the current iPods) so it'd have to be a volume play.

      Perhaps Apple could bundle pre-paid music from iTMS, to make the effective price $100? For example, $199 bundled with $100 of music is kinda like a $100 iPod. Music companies do discounted promotional bundles all the time, so this wouldn't be far fetched. And for bundling with an iPod, it could be pre-loaded on the hard drive, or pre-paid (gift certificate) to download from iTMS, so there would be no physical costs, just licensing costs. Or perhaps each iPod comes with $100 of sode (which gives iTunes away)? :-)
      • Re:BOM Cost... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by squiggleslash (241428)

        I think that even at $199 a 2 GB iPod could really excite people. $150 would be pretty amazing, but then Apple's margins would be pretty low (relative to the current iPods) so it'd have to be a volume play.

        After finding out about this drive, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that I think a $99 iPod is not unlikely tomorrow. The reason is that I don't see Apple releasing a "budget iPod" unless they can get it under $100, for the basic reason that Steve Jobs said a few months ago that it was an Apple

        • "After finding out about this drive, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that I think a $99 iPod is not unlikely tomorrow."

          I sure hope that you're right. but it'd mean that Apple's selling iPods at cost in order to sell music at cost, or vice versa. Hmm. Perhaps they strip down the display and controls a bit? Hrm. I guess we'll know more tomorrow.
      • I think that in Canada, it'd have to be preloaded with some music; that's the way to dodge the media levy.
      • by Hrunting (2191) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:24AM (#7888043) Homepage
        Perhaps Apple could bundle pre-paid music from iTMS, to make the effective price $100? For example, $199 bundled with $100 of music is kinda like a $100 iPod. Music companies do discounted promotional bundles all the time, so this wouldn't be far fetched. And for bundling with an iPod, it could be pre-loaded on the hard drive, or pre-paid (gift certificate) to download from iTMS, so there would be no physical costs, just licensing costs. Or perhaps each iPod comes with $100 of sode (which gives iTunes away)? :-)

        Geezus, STOP GIVING THEM FSCKING MARKETING IDEAS! I want an iPod for $100! I don't want 100 bucks worth of music. I don't want a stupid gift certificate or licensing or anything. I'm a dirt cheap geek who is thisclose to actually braving the redneck land of Wal-Mart to get a $99 PC that I can muck around with. You telling Apple all these different ways for them to charge me even more for a product I already think is overpriced isn't getting me any closer to my wet dream.

        Really? Why doesn't anybody just say, "If they take a loss on the iPod, they'll sell more at the Music Store. Also, give away 100,000 Junior iPods free to water their mouths!" Now that's a marketing plan I can get on board with.
        • Re:BOM Cost... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AKnightCowboy (608632)
          I'm a dirt cheap geek who is thisclose to actually braving the redneck land of Wal-Mart to get a $99 PC that I can muck around with.

          Not to sound rude, but why don't you try getting a better job? Spend the $100 on a decent used suit to use at job interviews or buy a training book with the money. Do something to better yourself instead of wasting your money on toys. Once you have a good job you'll have plenty of money to throw away on toys like 40GB iPods and Powerbooks.

    • I would have thought that the difference in cost in lots of 100,000 and 500,000 would be fairly small - but then, I'm not in the market for such things.

      Does anybody have any figures on how price and quantity interrelate once you start getting to these sizes - or is there sufficiently few of these contracts and sufficiently many other complicating factors that the price trends are difficult to discern?

    • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:07AM (#7887926)
      More like...

      Jobs: How about you sell us half a million of those drives for $10 each.
      Cornice CEO: Well, that's pretty much below what it costs us to make them, we've got to have at least $50 each for them.
      Jobs: Let me put this another way. How about you sell us half a million of those drive for $10 each, and we'll not buy out your company and fire every manager making over $100k a year?
      Cornice CEO: Uh...OK!

      OK, so Apple isn't exactly Microsoft, but you can't tell me Cornice isn't going to bend over backwards to get their name associated with something that would be this big.
      • Re:BOM Cost... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by twiddlingbits (707452)
        How do we know that Apple hasn't funded some of the development of this drive via a strategic alliance in order to get first rights to the device at a great price (cost + a small %). That sort of thing wouldn't be announced and would only show up in Apple financials as "investments" with no details. That might be a smarter idea than buying them out, because if you buy them out you get their liabilities (bills, debts) as well as the assets (the drive technology). The margins on disk drives are not real high
    • Re:BOM Cost... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wankledot (712148)
      remember, the price for the toshiba drive that the 5GB iPod used when it was released was $399... which is exactly what the iPod cost.
    • Re:BOM Cost... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:34AM (#7888110)
      Could Apple be considering selling a 2 GB model at a loss under hopes that users will max it out, and then trade it in for a larger model?
  • WHy not (Score:2, Insightful)

    If you're going for storage, why not get the full size iPod? If you are going for small, why not get a smaller player, there are much smaller ones out there that hold a considerable amount, albeit not as much as iPod Jr.
    • Re:WHy not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:54PM (#7887835) Homepage Journal
      The new iPod that this drive is supposedly intended for will be a much smaller player.

      Even if it wasn't, the selling point is that this is going to be a cheap, load-it-up-and-forget-it, player. Right now the choices are between cheap, constantly-reupdate-it-with-different-music, type players where you can barely fit more than two or three hours of music on them at a time, and expensive maintain-irregularly players like the iPod.

      This adds something new. And it'll be small and cheap too, if the rumours are to be believed.

      Oh, and First Post trolls: I meant to write "fairly nuts", meaning "quite crazy" or "slightly insane". Sorry about that. I note I also put spaced hard-drive inconsistantly too. So shoot me ;)

    • If you are going for small, why not get a smaller player, there are much smaller ones out there

      To make a claim like this AND it be informed, you would have had to have seen an iPod Jr (or whatever they may be called). If so, the entire apple community (and others) would really appreciate a picture of it.

      The PDF, at least as far as I saw after DLing it, didn't mention the size of the drive. Granted it is more likely than not larger than SOME MP3 players, it would be a shame to jump to such conclusio
  • lot of spinning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stonebeat.org (562495) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:34PM (#7887666) Homepage
    there's not even a memory buffer no memory buffer means, there could be a lot of spinning which might excessive noise. just RLL MFM drive about 10 years ago.
    i dont want hear noises of the hard drive spinning in the background when I am listening to Bob Seger. :)
    • by jaysones (138378) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:38PM (#7887706)
      Hmm, I'd rather listen to a hard drive spinning than Bob Seger.

      :D

    • Im sure if the ipod jr used this drive it would take care of the buffering on its own.
    • Just means you use the memory connected to your microcontroller instead of having memory in the drive. The music buffer in the iPOD is n't the one in the drive, it's in main memory too. They're just lowering the cost by utilizing the processing power in the host cpu instead of including it the drive.
    • Re:lot of spinning (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dhovis (303725) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:43PM (#7887740)
      No memory buffer on the drive is no big deal if you are just going to:
      1. Spin up the hard drive
      2. Load content into onboard memory
      3. Spin down the drive

      The memory buffer on the HD itself is so the electronics on the drive can try to guess ahead what data will be asked for next. So on something like the iPod, where the HD only spins up once every 20 minutes, the buffer integrated into the drive only adds expense and doesn't help performance.

      • Yes, but.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by djupedal (584558) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:13AM (#7887969)
        That was then....this is now.

        All it takes is a breakthrough in compression to mean you don't have to spend so much time and energy handling the read/decode/buffer/play routine.

        Cut at least two of those dramactically and you've compensated for an otherwise/relatively slow drive.

        Apple has been very busy with QuickTime, iTunes and AAC lately - note that current purchased music has a profile of 'Low Complexity'.

        I betting they have an advanced codec that allows them to overcome traditional restrictions that may baffle others that have attempted and given up on the same combination of mechanicals and electronics.
    • Re:lot of spinning (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pfhor (40220) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:47PM (#7887783) Homepage
      Apple puts memory buffer in the ipod itself. It has a 32 meg buffer, loads as much of the songs / playlist into it, and then spins down the drive. Apple could easily pop a small flash chip on there, that acts like the buffer, keeping the database of information on it. Sounds like a pretty effecient design to me, instead of using the minature buffer on a drive, etc.
  • by gotr00t (563828) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:34PM (#7887674) Journal
    Another important aspect of why this is a good candidate for the drive that Apple might use is because its compatible with the PortalPlayer audio processor... which is the one that the iPod uses.
  • Why would you? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kris_J (10111) * on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:36PM (#7887682) Journal
    My 20Gig iPod holds my entire music collection with room to spare, about 5Gig to spare I think. My mother's 10Gig will fit everything once she's pruned out some stuff she doesn't listen to anymore (I converted her entire CD collection as part of the birthday present, so she didn't have the opportunity to decide what not to bother about.)

    Why would anyone buy an iPod too small to hold their entire collection. One of the best features is that you only need to connect it to the PC when you buy a new CD or whatever. I've owned a range of portable music devices and I'd never ever buy another one that couldn't just handle my entire library at once.

    A quick bit of math; Assume 1MB/minute, 2Gig = 2048 minutes = 34 hours. That's somewhere between 3 days and a week. I've gone a month without connecting my iPod to my library.

    • Because some people dont have 300$+ to shell out on a high tech walkman that does little else
    • Re:Why would you? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plj (673710)
      Why would anyone buy an iPod too small to hold their entire collection.

      Perhaps, because someone [slashdot.org]here cannot afford the more expensive large-HD version, you insensitive clod!

      But if you insist, I can post my IBAN account number here, so you can donate the necessary euro-$$$ for me.
    • In addition to a lower price, the resulting IPod would be physically smaller. That would appeal to joggers and the like...
    • Re:Why would you? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cybertect (85900) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:59PM (#7887882) Homepage
      Go to any home furnishing store and check out the size of the CD shelving units they sell. Judging by that, and my non-musician friends' houses, most people own less than 30 CDs. A cheap, 2 GB iPod would suit them nicely and Apple's going after the the non-muso market with this device (if it exists - I guess we'll find out tomorrow).

      Even if you've got a lot of music stored in iTunes, with only a couple of Gigs of data to transfer to the iPod, it would be easy to pick a few albums and load up a day's listening while you're off making a cup of tea.
    • Re:Why would you? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chris Tucker (302549)
      So Kris_J sez:

      "...I've owned a range of portable music devices and I'd never ever buy another one that couldn't just handle my entire library at once.

      A quick bit of math; Assume 1MB/minute, 2Gig = 2048 minutes = 34 hours. That's somewhere between 3 days and a week. I've gone a month without connecting my iPod to my library. "

      For someone like myself, who doesn't feel the need to carry my whole collection with me at one time, nor brag about it, a 2gig iPod at an affordable price would suit me just fine.

      I
    • Re:Why would you? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by X_Caffeine (451624) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:05AM (#7887914)
      I had access to a roommate's 20gig iPod all last summer, and hated it. Too big, too clunky.

      The only place I really wanted to use it was at the gym, and the device (in a belt clip) kept tugging my shorts down. And all I want is maybe a dozen albums to pick from while I'm lifting weights, walking to and from home.

      (and before you mention solid state devices -- I want something that works with iTunes!)

      A mini-iPod would be perfect for me. Unfortunately, I don't believe the rumors at all.
    • why would i?

      because my mp3 collection is 120GB + and there is no way i could afford the 120GB iPod that doesn't exist.

      so 2GB can hold about 15 CDs ... perfect!
    • I guess that means that everybody has the same size library.
      Some of us don't eed to have access to every piece of music we own, all the time.

      Personally, My regularly listened to music is always being updated. I mean I got 18 year old CDs I don't need to listen too, and haven't for 17 years.
    • Why would anyone buy an iPod too small to hold their entire collection.

      (Here, have a spare question mark: '?')

      Erm, because they don't make a 90GB iPod? (And no, that's not FLACs or high-bitrate files that could be stripped, that's mostly 128kbps files.)

      But yes, your other point about capacity stands: I don't need to change what's on my iPod more than every few months, if that. A smaller drive would be an annoyance. Still much better than its predecessor, my MD player, though.

  • I thought it was going to be a Toshiba drive that will be announced at CES. http://news.zdnet.co.uk/hardware/0,39020351,391184 79,00.htm
  • by joekra (722518)
    MacRumors [macrumors.com] is also confident that a new product called GarageBand will be released tomorrow. Probably a consumer audio application

    Garage Band [macrumors.com]
  • by djrogers (153854) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:38PM (#7887703)
    I'm not much of a rumor monger, but I like this one, so I'll bite. Given Apple's penchant for building quality and pricing things higher than the competition, I'd not be surprised if this were a $199 job (no pun intended). At $199 apple can still be competetitive price-wise, but avoid scavenging sales from their 10GB model only $100 higher in price. $199 is easier to swallow - and if the little baby is significantly smaller and cooler, I'd not be surprised if Apple wound up selling them to a lot of existing iPod owners too... So let's summarize - at $99 they'd likely lose money, scavenge sales from the 'big' ones, have to skimp on the quality of the device, and way underprice the competition. At $199 they'd have a nice margin, and leave more headroom for the high quality and design that could drive re-sales... D
    • I gotta agree with this, but they might bundle it with a new Mac for $99....
    • Apple isn't just competing against Apple you know....

      Dell has a digital player out holding 15GB for $249. Now even if that thing is a piece of crap there is no way Apple can release a 2GB player for $50 less. And the MuVo2 is already in this space.

      Apple needs to shock the world. If they release a 2GB player for more than $149 the collective yawns will be defeaning.
    • by The_Steel_General (196801) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:18AM (#7888001)
      Perfectly fair analysis, but I don't think that price will work. If the miniPod is happening, it's for people with smaller budgets and/or smaller music collections.

      $199 is too high a price point to be easily differentiated from the price for the regular iPod. They won't cannibalize from the iPod because they won't sell: Folks who can set aside $199 for a music player will be able to set aside another $100 for the full version. Especially if they do the math and realize they get five times the songs for a 33% increase in price.

      Consider further that Apple doesn't want you to do the math. If you start looking at tradeoffs and dollars per minute of music, you might realize that you can get a better deal on a flash memory player or one of those Dell things. Apple makes their money on the Cool Factor, and cold hard logic is dangerous to their bottom line.

      $99 breaks the three-digit psychological barrier, and is something that many folks could scrounge out easily -- without thinking. A little voice might try to say that it's more expensive, but they'll be thinking of Courtney Love playing the new Nirvana song from her iPod and all those other rock stars who can't live without their iPods and -- sure, I can afford this, I need a player anyway. Maybe I'll get one for the wife, too.

      I was expecting the whole miniPod rumor to blow away, like the PDA they were supposed to come out with a couple of years ago. The existence of the small drives makes it a lot more likely. If it does happen, I'd like for Apple to be smart [for a change!], lose a little money on these first ones and make it up as component prices go down.

      But I guess we'll all find out tomorrow.

      TSG

    • by idiot900 (166952) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:19AM (#7888004)
      $200 for 2GB seems an awful lot to the average consumer, when one can pay $300 for five times the space in the 10GB version. Pricing it like this makes the 2GB player look like a terrible value. Even as a student with little disposable income, I would much rather pay the extra $100 than sacrifice 8GB.

      That is, unless there is some amazing killer feature to it. Obscenely long battery life? Really small? It would have to be amazingly sexy for it to be worth $200 when the premium for the next higher model is so little given the much greater capacity.

      Also, the quoted price is $70 each for the media in 100k quantities. Perhaps this price is artificially raised for Apple's competitors, by agreement with Apple, in order to discourage them from buying the same media from Cornice and making knockoff players. And maybe Cornice does not have the capacity to make too many more of these things above and beyond Apple's order, and jacking up the price for everyone but Apple saves them from losing face by denying orders. Cornice loses nothing, Apple gets to make their player, and competitors are left high and dry.

      I've said this before - if come tomorrow these "microPods" actually exist and are selling for $100, I will buy one immediately. Let's hope it'll be easy to coerce Linux to talk to it :)
  • by bpbond (246836)
    just think, string together half a dozen of these w/ a controller, and you'd have... iPod RAID!

    Never, ever, have a song skip.
  • by strider69666 (733972) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:40PM (#7887717)
    Being as the drive is a micro drive, and the abuse it will undoubtedly recieve, are these drives up to the task? How well are they stress tested to make sure that they would be suitable for a mini-Ipod? I have heard complaints about regular Ipod drives not lasting as long as expected, so I wonder if a micro drive would fail even faster.
    • by RalphBNumbers (655475) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:02AM (#7887894)
      Being a "micro" drive actually makes the things less fragile, not more.

      The acceleration needed to bend a head down to impact with a platter increases with the shrinking length of the arm the head is mounted on, and increases again with the decrease in mass of the head and arm. It's a simple matter of scale. So a smaller mechanisim could be much more resistant to crashing.

      Anyway, I've never heard any actual complaints about iPod drives, just speculation by pundits that *maybe* there *might* eventually be problems with some constantly abused units. And I have heard plenty of stories of people bouncing them off the concrete multiple times with no ill effects. Therefore I question your sources.
    • I don't know about what people have reported, but the iPods are really solid. There might be flakiness in the electronics, but the hardware puts up with abuse very well.
  • Hang on... (Score:2, Interesting)

    All along we've heard that iTunes isn't making Apple any money and that it's really just a way to push iPods out the door. If that's the case, how could they be selling the iPod at the same cost as the hard drive within it? Assuming they get some bulk discount, that's still very little profit there.

    So how do the books balance out? I would expect if Apple is so interested in pushing the iPods [as evidenced by the creation of iTunes], they'd want to get a nice profit from each unit sold.

    • Re:Hang on... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@p[ ]ell.net ['acb' in gap]> on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:55PM (#7887845) Homepage
      You misunderstand ^^

      The original 5gb iPod was sold at the same price as the standalone 5gb Toshiba drive... but Apple undoubtedly got tremendous profit due to buying the drive in bulk. Perhaps the same case here: $70 in lots of 100,000, but I am willing to bet Apple can procure and easily sell a million of these. If they can get them at $50 each, and then bundle $50 of electronics, and then sell it for $199, they are making huge markup, no?
    • Re:Hang on... (Score:3, Interesting)

      Maybe they are pushing ipods to bring themselves into the consumer eye again, and promote the sale of their computers (Which must have fucking huge! margins considering how overpriced they are)
  • by hackshack (218460) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:43PM (#7887738)
    If ya'll check the PDF, the drive itself is only about 40x40mm square. This is about the size of the current iPod's LCD screen. Perhaps Apple will omit the LCD or replace it with a single- or dual-line display to save money... one would think navigation would be impaired as a result, but perhaps they've got something up their sleeves. They've gotta save money somewhere, in any case... perhaps they've figured out a way to reduce the number of on board ICs from 4-5 to 1-2. Maybe it'll be essentially a USB "thumb drive" with no cable to speak of... it'll save on FireWire controllers at least.

    Interesting how, despite the poster's comparison to old-tyme MFM drives, the Cornice is apparently equipped with a "true IDE" interface. Dunno what level ATA that is, but parts is parts to a certain extent, and it looks like a fairly simple drop-in solution. The iPod, despite being incredibly compact, uses no custom ICs- everything's all off the shelf- this was done on purpose and the Cornice SE jives perfectly with this design methodology.

    Maybe this'll be the next Gameboy, from a pop culture standpoint.

  • by overbyj (696078) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:44PM (#7887758)
    One of the biggest gripes about the iPod has been the price (let's not get into the battery issue here). These mini-iPods will fill a void in the Apple lineup and compete with the lower end MP3 players. However, if they get these mini-iPods at a price point of around $120-150, they will crush the competition because of what the competition is selling pricewise.

    I was in Best Buy recently and saw a Rio MP3 player with a whopping 128 MB for $109. If Apple gets a mini-iPod for about that price, who in their right mind will buy a Rio player for that price. The only potential drawback to the iPod is that it can't WMA files served up by MusicMatch, Napster and other crappy music services. Granted, if you are buying any iPod, you are probably not wasting your time with those sites anyway.

    Here's to hoping to something good tomorrow at MacWorld. Please Steve, I want an affordable iPod!
  • SWEET! (Score:4, Funny)

    by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi&yahoo,com> on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:47PM (#7887788) Homepage Journal
    I am getting one as soon as they come out and swapping in my IBM XT 10 meg drive!

    Fully fledged iPod for half the price! - Suckers!

    Hmm...something seems not quite right...

  • by YllabianBitPipe (647462) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:54PM (#7887840)
    After skimming all the Mac Rumour sites, here's some possibilities: iPod junior comes out with this micro drive but USB instead of Firewire. Or, iPod junior debuts with upgradeable flash storage. They give you a piddly amount to start, and keep it under 100 bucks that way. My money is on an iPod jr using the microdrive, USB, and priced at 149.
  • Cornice???? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Andy_R (114137) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:01AM (#7887889) Homepage Journal
    I've never heard of Cornice before (am I woefully uninformed? maybe!)

    I suspect one of the bigger names will turn out to be Apple's supplier. Apple have been at the cutting edge ofindustrial design for years now, so I would also expect the drive for a mini ipod would not be a off-the-shelf product at all, instead it would be very tightly integrated into the mini ipod.

    As for $70 per 100,000, I think that's a sign this isn't the drive too. Apple would be putting in an order for a few million a year. If Cornice was the supplier for a product as hot as mini ipod, would they really have 100,000 spare to offer to anyone else, and would Apple let them pitch it so boldly at other mp3 player builders the day before (supposed) launch?
    • Re:Cornice???? (Score:4, Informative)

      by fantastic max (690355) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:12AM (#7887961)
      I've never heard of Cornice before

      and would Apple let them pitch it so boldly at other mp3 player builders the day before (supposed) launch?

      Cornice makes the 1.5 GB drive that is used in the Rio Nitrus/Eigen. So there's already another mp3 player builder that knows about this company.

  • here [corniceco.com]

    it appears as if IMB and its microdrive have some competition. And if this thing is as rugged as it claims to be, the future looks good, real good.

  • Write speed... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OneFix (18661) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:20AM (#7888014)
    Umh, don't underestimate the issue of write speed...

    I may be able to put a 30 minute album on 30MB of space, but if it takes 10 minutes to copy it to the drive, I'm gonna get seriously pissed after about 2 minutes...

    Then again, I'm still waiting till the whole battery problem is resolved to my satisfaction...
  • by dutky (20510) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:20AM (#7888016) Homepage Journal
    The iPod is basically 5 parts: HD, PCB, LCD, case and battery. If I had to build the PCB from commodity parts (bought from someplace like Digi-Key [digi-key.com]) I could probably do it for about $50. The case would cost another $20 (in quantity 1000). An appropriate LCD from EarthLCD [earthlcd.com] can be had for about $30 as well. I don't know what the prismatic LiION cell is wholesale, but I'll throw in another $30 for good measure. If we assume that I could get the HD for the 100,000 count price, the whole thing comes to ~$200.

    We can safely assume that Apple can bring some pressure to bear for better pricing on all of the above parts. Given this analysis, I'd guess that the entry price for the mini-iPod will be $149 and Apple knows something we don't about how to keep costs down (or they're willing to take a much lower profit maragin to build market share: not a bad plan if you expect mini-iPod buyers to graduate to higher maragin products in a year or so).

  • by Doppler00 (534739) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:21AM (#7888020) Homepage Journal
    I prefer datasheets to press releases for hardware.

    This gives a little bit more info:
    http://www.corniceco.com/download/CorniceMa rketing Brochure_2.0.pdf
  • by gozu (541069) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @12:51AM (#7888215) Journal
    A lot of people are doing the math and coming up with figures between $130-$200 as a price consistent with Apple's pricing philosophy. For those unfamiliar with said philosophy, it goes something like this:

    Final price = manufacturing costs + marketing costs + healthy margin + some more healthy margin + annual GDP of Canada (which isn't much, I'll give you that)

    I know I'm not buying an mp3 player that costs over a hundred bucks. Most people won't either.

    Now if the rumors are true and apple is indeed planning to release a 2Gb mini-Ipod, They should cut on margins and go for a $99 markup. Sales would be huge and would certainly increase the Itunes userbase exponentially. This would allow them to be in a great position to renegociate their contracts with the Big five of the recording industry and profit from it. In /. speak, it goes like this:

    1-sell miniIpod for $99
    2-Increase Itunes userbase and song sales
    3-renegociate contract with record labels
    4-profit!

    Not to mention that a significant amount of Ipod users switch to Macs. More long-term durable profit right there.

    Unfortunately, corporations tend to favor next quarter profits to the detriment of the long-term. So I'm not holding my breath on this one.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @02:11AM (#7888722) Homepage
    iTMS was pushing iPods.

    Now if these relatively cheap mini-iPods arrive, they can't be pushing iPods. They'd have to be pushing the iTMS.

    So what then does the iTMS now push? Or iPods? iTunes? iMacs? iMconfused?

    The only "reasonable" explaination I'd see for a killer price-iPod is to coup the standards war - wmv out, aac in as the de facto standard of digital music.

    I find it much more likely that it'll have the normal Apple mark-up. In other words, quite expensive compared to players of similar specs. The primary "sellers" are the iPod brand, interface and iTMS, not price.

    Of course, I could be horribly wrong. But I don't see how it'd be in Apples interest to do anything drastic that could hurt their iPod cashcow.

    Kjella

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