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IPod Shuffle

The iPod Shuffle is a digital audio player designed and marketed by Apple Inc (as iPod shuffle). It is the budget model in Apple's iPod family. It was announced at the Macworld Conference & Expo on January 11, 2005, using the tagline "life is random." Instead of storing data on a hard disk, it was the first iPod to use flash memory. The current second generation model weighs about 15 grams (0.55 ounces). It was introduced in September 2006 along with the revamped fifth generation iPod Classic and second generation iPod Nano. The iPod Shuffle is the smallest device made by Apple.

Models

Generation Image Capacity Colors Connection Original release date Minimum OS to sync Rated battery life (hours)
first 512 MB White USB
(no adaptor required)
11 January 2005 Mac: 10.2
Win: 2000
audio: 12
1 GB
New entry-level model. Uses flash memory and has no screen.
second
1 GB

(original)
Silver
Green
Blue
Pink
Orange
(refresh 1)
Silver
Mint
Turquoise
Red
Lavender
(refresh 2)
Silver
Green
Blue
Red
Pink
USB 2.0
(with included dock)
12 September 2006 Mac: 10.3
Win: 2000
audio: 12
2 GB n/a 26 February 2008
Smaller clip design with anodized aluminum casing; 4 color options added later on 30 January 2007; Green and blue changed to lighter shade, pink and orange replaced on 5 September 2007; 2 GB model introduced on 19 February 2008. Blue and green reverted to brighter shades and purple replaced with pink on 09 September 2008.

Overview

First generation

Released on January 11 2005, the first generation iPod Shuffle was designed to be easily loaded with a selection of songs and to play them in random order. According to Apple, owners of existing iPods had often left the music selection to "shuffle", and the new iPod Shuffle was a way of implementing that in a much more cost-effective fashion. It relies on the use of an "autofill" feature in iTunes, which can select songs at random from a user's music library (or from a specific playlist) and copy as many as will fit into iPod Shuffle's memory. It can hold up to 240 songs (1 GB model, based on Apple's estimate, of four minutes per song and 128 kbit/s AAC encoding). It used the SigmaTel STMP35xx System On a Chip, a flash memory IC, and USB rechargeable Lithium cell.

It lacks the trademark display, scroll wheel, playlist management features, games, address book, calendar, and notes capability of earlier iPods, and cannot be used with iSync. In addition, due to its lower processing power, it is incapable of playing Apple Lossless and AIFF audio files, unlike other iPod models. The iPod Shuffle has a better bass response than 4th generation iPod, according to one review published days after its release. The first generation shuffle weighed 0.78 ounces.

iTunes offers some new features for iPod Shuffle. One is the ability to reduce the bit rate of songs to 128 kbit/s AAC. The conversion is done automatically, with the original file left untouched on the computer and the smaller (lower bit rate) file sent to the iPod Shuffle. Older versions of iTunes allowed an iPod Shuffle playlist to be viewed and changed while the unit is not connected; the next time the unit is connected, it can then be updated with the changed playlist. This functionality is no longer a part of iTunes as of iTunes 7.

The front of the iPod Shuffle has buttons for Play/Pause, Next Song/Fast Forward, Previous Song/Fast Reverse, and up and down volume adjustment. On the reverse, it has a battery level indicator light (activated by a button) and a three-position switch to turn the unit off or set it to play music in order or shuffled. It plugs directly into a computer's USB port (either 1.1 or 2.0), through which it also recharges its battery, which has an expected life of around 12 hours between charges. The USB plug is hidden beneath a cap. The unit also comes with a lanyard that attaches to the iPod Shuffle via an attached cap and this allows the user to wear the iPod Shuffle around his or her neck.

The iPod Shuffle can also be used as a USB flash drive. iTunes allows a user to set how much of the drive will be allowed for storing files, and how much will be used for storing music.

First generation iPod Shuffles were originally sold at US$99 for 512 MB (0.5 GB) models, and US$149 for 1 GB models. In June 2005, the price for the first generation 1 GB iPod Shuffle was lowered to US$129. In February 2006, the prices for first generation iPod Shuffles were lowered to US$69 and US$99 respectively.

Second generation

On September 12 2006, Apple announced the release of the second generation iPod Shuffle, calling it "the most wearable iPod ever". First shipments of the unit were slated for an October 2006 arrival, but actually started shipping on Friday, November 3 2006. The new generation featured a lone 1 GB model at US$79, GB£49, CA$89, AU$119 or €89 (France) in a silver brushed aluminum case similar to the second generation iPod nano and the older iPod mini. The new model is less than half the size of the first generation model at 41.2 x 27.3 x 10.5 mm (1.62 x 1.07 x 0.41 in), and is reminiscent of the iPod radio remote available for iPod nanos and 5th generation iPods. Apple branded it as the "world's smallest MP3 player". This size includes the new built-in belt clip; the actual unit itself is thinner, with the entire device weighing only 15.5 g (0.55 ounces). The power and shuffle/no shuffle switches were also separated into two controls to prevent accidental choice of shuffle when that may not be the desired mode of operation. The formatting of the iPod itself is new to Apple, as the 2G (2nd Generation) shuffle will only format itself to FAT32. iTunes issues a warning that the iPod is incorrectly formatted if brought to the Macintosh format HFS+. All previous iPod models have allowed the usage of either the Mac format or the PC format.

On the second generation iPod Shuffle, USB connectivity is provided via an included dock, which transfers data through the headphone jack. The second generation iPod Shuffle is also able to act as a flash drive, just like the first generation iPod Shuffle. However, unlike the first generation iPod Shuffle, the second generation does not have a built-in USB connector. This means the dock is required for connection to a computer on the second generation model.

The second generation shuffle can play MP3, MP3 VBR, AAC, Protected AAC, Audible (formats 2, 3 and 4), WAV and AIFF, meaning that the only iTunes format not supported is Apple Lossless. Using WAV or AIFF will very quickly fill the device's 1GB capacity. iPod Shuffle cannot play music from music video files.

On January 30, 2007, Apple announced the addition of four new colors to the iPod Shuffle line. In addition to the original silver, a pink, orange, green, and blue color has been made available via the Apple Store (online). Of the colors the blue, green, and pink are essentially the same hues as the second generation minis and nanos. The new orange color is a first for the iPod franchise. They also now come with the new redesigned headphones that were not included with the original silver model. The box was also changed to have gray text instead of the lime-green text, lime-green showing that the original headphones are included, and gray text showing that the new headphones are included.

On September 5, 2007, Apple refreshed the line with four new colors including a Product Red version. The new colors (turquoise, lavender, mint green, and Product Red) replaced the previous colors (pink, orange, green, and blue). On February 19 2008, Apple reduced the price of the 1 GB model to $49 and announced the 2 GB version for $69 though the sale of the larger one was released later that month, The UK sale price is £32 for the 1GB version and £45 for the 2GB version.

At the Apple Let's Rock Event on September 9, 2008 Apple released four new colors for the iPod Shuffe: Blue, Green, Pink and Red.

Accessories

Both Apple and 3rd-party manufacturers offer a variety of accessories for the iPod Shuffle. Apple offers such things as armband attachments (so it can be worn on one's arm), a sport case that protects the iPod Shuffle from the elements, and an iPod Shuffle dock that allows easier connection to a computer, similar to the dock units available for the regular iPod and iPod nano. Third-party manufacturers offer such things as custom dock connectors, iPod Shuffle decorative and protective t-shirts, sleeves, belt clips, AC and DC power plugs, earphones, and FM transmitters etc.

Impact

The iPod Shuffle was announced at the same time as the Mac mini. Like the iPod Shuffle, the Mac mini is a scaled-down product which has been introduced at a lower price point. These two products together can be seen as a conscious effort on the part of Apple management to target a lower-end market and increase visibility in the mass-market. Previously, the success of Apple's iPod and especially the iPod mini had been chipping away at the inexpensive flash player market, causing flash players at the beginning of 2005 to account for less than half the market share they did in 2004. However, the original and mini iPods were costly and the shuffle was intended to make the iPod accessible to the mainstream audience.

By April 2005, the end of Apple's second fiscal quarter, the iPod Shuffle had already proven itself to be a successful product for its manufacturer. Although Apple has chosen not to specify how many iPod Shuffles were sold in the product's first three months of existence, analysts at Piper Jaffray estimated that 1.8 million of the 5.3 million iPods sold in the second quarter were shuffles. NPD Group estimates that the iPod Shuffle captured 43% of the flash-based music player market in February 2005, after only its second month of existence. By March 2005 the iPod Shuffle's market share had risen to 58%.

In September 2006, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced during his keynote presentation on the "It's Showtime" Special Event, that until then, Apple had sold 10 million first generation iPod Shuffles.

Chewing and eating

Due to its small size (8.38 × 2.49 × 0.84 cm or 3.3 × 0.98 × 0.33 inches), Apple's web site declared the first generation iPod Shuffle "smaller than a pack of gum and much more fun," with the footnote on its American web site: "Do not eat iPod shuffle." As of September 29, 2005, the footnote has disappeared from the American website.

Blinking light problem

PC World reported a problem with the first generation iPod Shuffles ceasing normal function, only to flash orange and green lights and become unmountable. Since the Shuffle has no display, the owner can't read an error message or troubleshoot easily, requiring diagnosis by Apple service personnel. Flashing green and amber lights on the iPod Shuffle indicate that a generic "error" has occurred, according to Apple's documentation. If the device is still covered by warranty, Apple will replace it for free. This problem has also occurred on second generation iPod Shuffles.

On October 26 2006, Apple released an iPod Shuffle Reset Utility that corrected this problem for some owners of first generation iPod Shuffles. The reset utility has not currently been updated to run on Windows Vista.

References

External links

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