iPod nano is Apple’s fourth digital audio player, combining the features of iPod shuffle and iPod. It was introduced on September 7, 2005, replacing the iPod mini, which was discontinued on the same day. The mini’s replacement took Macintosh websites and the press completely by surprise, as although there were rumors of a new flash-based iPod, there was no advance notice of the mini’s discontinuation.
Work on the new iPod nano design began just nine months before its release date. The iPod nano has more flash memory storage than is used in the iPod shuffle and has a miniaturized version of the color screen and click wheel found on the full-sized iPods. The screen also has a higher grayscale resolution than the old iPod, allowing one more line of text from the mini’s screen. The battery and other internals were also reduced in size. The surface of the click wheel is slightly roughened, allowing for greater tactile feedback when working out of sight.
Size comparison of an iPod nano and a full-size mouse. The ad highlights the small size of the iPod nano: it is 1.6 inches (40 mm) wide, 3.5 inches (90 mm) long, 0.27 inches (6.9 mm) thick, and weighs 1.5 ounces (42 grams ). Its claimed battery life is 14 hours. The screen is 176 x 132 pixels, 1.5 inches (38 mm) diagonal and can display 65,536 colors (16-bit color).
iPod nano works with iTunes on Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows (third-party software is available for platforms that Apple does not support). It connects via the same proprietary docking connector as the third-generation iPod, fourth-generation iPod, and iPod mini, using a USB 2.0 port on the user’s computer. Although it uses the same connection as Apple’s FireWire iPod cable and can charge its battery over FireWire, iPod nano does not support syncing over a FireWire connection. iPod nano includes a stopwatch and multi-time zone clock function. There’s also a combination lock feature that uses the click wheel to lock the iPod and serves to protect the user’s calendar and contact information. It was also the first iPod to feature a new lyrics screen that could be changed using iTunes.
The Nano was released in two colors (black or white) with two sizes available: 2GB (approximately 500 tracks) for $199 USD and 4GB (1000 tracks) for $249 USD. On February 7, 2006, Apple updated the lineup with a 1 GB model (240 tracks) selling for $149. Apple has also released some accessories, including wristbands and silicone “tubes” designed to add color to the nano and protect it from scratches, as well as a combination strap and earpiece accessory that hangs around the neck and avoids the problem of tangling cables. the headphones.
iPod nano uses flash memory instead of a hard drive. As a result, it has no moving parts, making it immune to skipping and much more durable than disc players. The trade-off is, as with any flash memory, that it has a finite number of read/write cycles. Tests by tech enthusiast website Ars Technica showed that even after being dropped twice by a car, the device’s screen was damaged but it could still play music. The device finally stopped playing music after being thrown 40 feet in the air.
Although the iPod nano costs more than the iPod mini range it replaced, it should be noted that the iPod nanos are priced exactly the same as the iPod mini (2 + 4GB) when they were first released in 2004. Unlike the previous iPod, Apple does not offer an optional FireWire cable for the iPod nano (or for the fifth-generation iPod). The lack of the remote connector on the top of the iPod mini and iPod generations 3 and 4 meant that a number of third-party accessories would not work with the iPod nano. However, after the removal of the remote connector from the main iPod line to the Universal Docking Connector Switch, manufacturers were forced to develop alternatives to accessories that used it. The nano also lacks the TV output and voice recording options of the larger iPods. Apple also said that unlike other iPods capable of storing photos, the iPod nano will not work with either Apple’s iPod Camera Connector or third-party camera connectors.
Nike+iPod, released on May 23, 2006, is one of many accessories created specifically for the iPod nano. Nike+iPod benefits by syncing information including distance traveled, running speed or calories burned with the Nike+ website.
The iPod nano uses general-purpose integrated circuits (ICs) instead of smaller, inexpensive custom chips, presumably to reduce time to market. However, this design increases the number of electronic components and increases the cost. Japanese engineers estimated the component cost of the 2GB nano between 22,000 and 27,000 JPY, which is high compared to the retail price of 21,800 JPY. The price of 2 GB NAND flash memory is around JPY14000. Apple chose the more expensive 0603 (0.6 x 0.3 mm) components, the latest surface mount technology, over the cheaper but larger 1005 (1.0 x 0.5 mm) components. In fact, real estate remains available on the motherboard.
iPod nano Initial consumer response to the iPod nano was overwhelmingly positive and sales were strong. The Nano sold its first 1 million units in just 17 days, helping Apple to a record billion-dollar profit in 2005.
Apple’s launch of the iPod nano as a replacement for the iPod mini was seen by many as a risky move. The Mini was not only Apple’s most popular MP3 player, it was still the world’s best-selling player for the rest of its life; and mini sales don’t seem to be slowing down. Steve Jobs argued that the iPod nano was a necessary risk as competitors began to catch up with the iPod mini in terms of design and features, and believed that the iPod nano would prove to be even more popular and successful than the iPod mini. Analysts see this as part of Apple’s corporate culture, which relies heavily on innovation to continue to appeal to consumers.
Within days of the nano’s release, some users reported the nano failing, suggesting that the LCD screen was so scratched that it was unreadable even when the backlight was on. Many have reported fine scratches on their nano caused by microfiber cloths. Other owners have reported that their nano’s screen cracked without provocation. On September 27, Apple confirmed a small percentage (“less than 1/10 of 1 percent”) of iPod nanos shipped with a defective screen and agreed to replace all nanos with cracked screens, but denied that the iPod nano was more susceptible to scratch from previous iPods. Apple started shipping iPod nanos with a protective case to protect them from scratches. In October 2005, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Apple, with the plaintiffs seeking reimbursement for the cost of the device, legal fees, and “unlawful or unlawful profits” from sales of the iPod nano. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the devices “scratch excessively during normal use, rendering the nano’s screen unreadable and violating state consumer protection laws.” Similar lawsuits were later filed in Mexico and the United Kingdom. Some commentators, such as BusinessWeek’s Arik Hesseldahl, have criticized the lawsuits. Hesseldahl dismissed them as “stupid” and suggested they benefited “no one but the trial lawyers”, but also suggested that Apple could have avoided litigation by offering “full refunds for unwanted Nanos” instead charge a restocking fee and extend the return period from 14 (if purchased online) or 10 (if purchased retail) to 30 or 60 days.
Pope Benedict XVI owns a white 2GB iPod nano, making him the first Pope to own an iPod.