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December 23, 2005

Using iPods Like Memory Sticks

I was reading a "Rolling Stone" interview with Pharrell Williams (of the Neptunes) and he mentioned that when Q-Tip (of A Tribe Called Quest) wants to send him new music, he puts it on an iPod and sends it to him.

It struck me as strange because to me an iPod is something you buy and keep to play music on; it's not a storage medium you would use for exchanging data (with the understanding that the person receiving it would keep it, or reuse it, or whatever as they saw fit, but certainly NOT feel any obligation to return it to you). In other words, I don't expect people to treat an iPod like we used to treat a floppy disk.

Now of course Q-Tip probably has more money than the average Joe, but still my surprise at this might be a sign of fuddy-duddyism. I mean, people certainly use USB memory sticks to exchange data (although they might want them back), and an iPod Shuffle, in particular, doesn't really pretend to be much more than USB memory stick with an audio output jack and a volume control.

They are even priced pretty close. At Best Buy you can buy 1 GB USB memory sticks for about $100; a 1 GB iPod Shuffle is $129 direct from Apple. I've seen both of these cheaper elsewhere; 1GB iPod Shuffles for $99, and 1GB memory sticks for even less, but I think it's reasonable to say that the Shuffle costs 20%-30% more than the plain USB memory stick. Interestingly enough, the 512 MB Shuffle lists for $99, while 512 MB USB memory sticks are going for more like half of the 1GB ones. I think this shows that 1) the premium for the iPod-ness is constant ($30 or so) which makes sense, and also that for an iPod Shuffle, where you are planning to fill it with songs that take a few MB each, having twice as much storage just gives you twice as many songs, but for a USB device, where you may be copying giant files over, doubling the size may enable a scenario that is simply impossible with the smaller one (for example for this demo I needed a 2 GB image copied, so having two 1 GB memory sticks would have been useless), so it will command more of a premium (in particular going from 512 MB to 1 GB puts you past the amount of data you can store on a CD-ROM).

Yes you can still buy floppy disks; they cost about 33 cents each, so 1GB worth of storage is over $200. So in addition to being one uninterrupted data store and looking cool, an iPod Shuffle is cheaper per megabyte than floppies.

Posted by AdamBa at December 23, 2005 04:52 PM

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Interesting. Someone told me about buying a memory stick yesterday, to put get music on my iPod...in other words for him to dowload stuff for me. I'm confused, cuz when I typed in "iPod memory stick"...this[your thingy] is all that came up. hmmm. I have an iPod shuffle btw.

Posted by: Joy at January 3, 2006 02:31 PM