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Apple's ‘BluePod’ – promiscuous exchanges with strangers

Or a file-swapping Molotov?

Letters An iPod that can play your music to strangers and create impromptu public concerts is the stuff of dreams. Frankly it’s the only product out of the four we floated last week that you think has much merit. But my - how you're keen.

A "BluePod" we suggested, would be an iPod with built-in Bluetooth and Rendezvous. Think social!

"'What am i listening to' is the best viral marketing idea for a long time," reckons Reg friend Bill Thompson [ICA-Monday].

"Apple should spend its time innovating this device, as they will never get far sulking over their older CPUs. Windows users lust for them.

"I know this because I bought a Windows machine. If I bought an iPod, I'd use my dad's Mac anyway as it is easier to transfer files via firewire. So listen to me, e-mail Apple about this iPod idea. It sounds awesome," writes Chad Fodelberg.

Juhani Tali from Estonia adds:-

"The best part about Bluetooth iPod is that perhaps you can leave a significant part of the marketing to RIAA. If you play the cards right."

Reader "sam.freak™" (real name supplied) really nails the social aspect of a BluePod:-

"Just imagine thousands of people running around with personal radio stations in their pockets! Not only could you broadcast songs and the like, but other content as well -- from personal philosophy to revolutionary and subversive ideas...

"...there might also be an option to disable caching of this content to satisfy the RIAA (though no doubt some smart hackers will find ways around that). Add some broadcast range increasing measures to that and elevate, and voila! instant revolution ;-)

"Web radio broadcasters might switch if they have just local listeners, and who's gonna police those broadcasts? It's just about >>>>>> impossible... "

Yep, that's the most compelling justification for a piconet I've heard.

In response to your question "Bluetooth chips are now below $5. And think what you'd have then." How about "a really slow way of transferring MP3s?" notes Adrian Friis from Norway sarcastically.

But as Kimba (Kim Granland) points out:-

"I think people are still missunderstanding the point of Bluetooth. Bluetooth is not there to support mass data transfer. It's there to eliminate wires for all things that could be using irda, but aren't (for obvious reasons)".

Kim has another excellent suggestion for integrating Bluetooth. A headset with a difference:-

"Imagine, someone rings you, it shows up on your menubar, you click answer. It fades out the iTunes or your iPod, that is currently hijacking your headset… and switches over to the phonecall.. you hang up and the iPod (or iTunes) fades back in.. this notion can go on and on from there.. but essentially it combines three devices in super simple manne, in a manner that would be expected from Apple."

That's beautiful. We've been pulled up sharp for mocking these headsets before [see use a Bluetooth headset and I'm no Nathan Barley, claims reader] but this could have a broad appeal.

"A Rendezvous-iPod would be a welcome distraction! For that matter, why couldn't Apple also develop a new rev of their Airport transceiver with Bluetooth and analog audio out?" asks Martin Ferrini.

"I want to send music from my Mac and/or iPod to my stereo wirelessly and I'm sure I'm not alone. from what I understand, those Dr. Bott FM transmitters won't cut it and in my opinion."

"Apple needs something as a "convincer" for the savvy Mac consumers who want WiFi, but as of now will otherwise go with a cheaper (and/or more versatile) Netgear or Linksys router/transceiver. If they can build in the next gen wireless Firewire and can integrate MPEG4/Quicktime video into near future iPods then so much the better!"

Now we're cooking. Niklaus Falk has a perfect description of the detachable Table concept:-

"Imagine an iMac with a detachable Screen communicating over Bluetooth or Airport. That would be a product you could sell to premium homes. It would of course double as a media hub if you add speakers to the thin, light screen which you control with a pen from you sofa or wherever. Add remote control software to control you whole home from the screen. Make it foldable so it’s easier to carry. I could go on and on with usage of a nice remote screen which can take pen input. Viewsonic is on the right track but is too bulky."

Bruce Hogland has an even more subversive twist on the detachable monitor concept, formatted as per the original article:-

iBeheaded - essentially a headless iMac (G4) where the beautiful LCD & swivel arm (both expensive) are replaced by a tilt monitor swivel stand for a PC Switcher's old, but reluctant to throw away, CRT monitor. There would be as many iBeheadeds models as there are iMacs, with the possible exception of a graphics card that supports dual monitors and thus dual monitor ports. The pricing would be as aggressive as possible, so I think a ~$700 low end model is very possible. Most people don't care about Megahurtz, and for even fairly demanding video editing using iMovie, most people find the iMac fast enough.

What is it? A cheap, but very capable workstation for a broad range of users (Alpha Geek to Grandma)
Pros: cheap, very little R&D (design a tilt stand to replace LCD swivel arm); everything else exists
Cons: cannibalizes iMac LCD sales, low margins, gives proof to decades of "I told you so's" when Mac sales skyrocket!

Thanks Bruce - and thanks for so many interesting ideas, everyone.

Now if you really want a BluePod, write to Apple. I have a hunch that even if Apple passes on it, some manufacturer, probably not Sony, will attempt to bring such a revolutionary device to market. It would be a pity if Apple passed up on the opportunity, as it has the nicest MP3 player and made all the running with NetConf, aka Rendezvous. ®

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