Doin’ the Shuffle—My First Week with the new iPod

I must admit that I was a bit confused when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod Shuffle at Macworld Expo. Being a veteran iPod user, I like having an interface and being able to choose what I want to play, when I want to play it. Now I am supposed to let a bubble gum pack sized device choose for me? I wasn’t so sure how that was going to go over.

The good thing about being wrong every now and then is that I can freely admit when I’ve made a mistake—my first impressions on the iPod Shuffle were wrong. On Tuesday afternoon after Jobs’ keynote, I packed away my iPod photo and put a full playlist of Zakk Wylde on my new iPod Shuffle.

I got used to the Shuffle very quickly as it randomly went through songs. Not having an interface to easily guide you to the song of your choice wasn't as difficult as I thought either. When I put my playlist on the iPod, I did it in order (as opposed to allowing it to choose songs randomly), so by putting the iPod in playlist mode I was able to find the album and song I was looking for with relative ease using the forward and back buttons.

As small as the “regular” iPod is, I quickly realized how convenient the lanyard is that comes with the Shuffle. I love the fact that I can put it around my neck and walk around. Yes, there are cases for the iPod that allow you to do the same thing, but I was always taking it out of the case to go forward, back or choose another song—with the Shuffle, I just click a button and go.

The battery life on the Shuffle has been really good so far, lasting a few days of normal use. By that, I mean that when I go for a walk or am taking a break from work I will use the Shuffle—easily a few hours a day. You can also check out Chris Breen's review of the iPod Shuffle.

Wow, I Am so Popular

I have learned the trick to being really popular—wear the same thing around your neck that Steve Jobs had around his just a few hours before. As I walked the show floor at Macworld Expo complete strangers would walk up to me, reach out and start touching the iPod Shuffle. I was amazed at how bold people can be and sometimes I had a little crowd of people around me looking at it.

When I went back to the hotel later that day I got into the elevator with a father and his three girls, probably all around 8-10 years old. When the girls saw the Shuffle they squealed and said, “That’s it, Daddy, that’s the new iPod.” The girls, like everyone else that day came over and started touching the iPod, saying how much they wanted one.

The father, on the other side of the elevator, was laughing and smiling at the three girls grabbing at my iPod while I shifted back and forth trying to get them to stop before they broke it. Funny was it?

Finally the father said, “You can’t get one now, I’m sure they are not in stores yet.”

As they got off the elevator, it was my turn—I smiled and said, “Oh, yes they are—the Apple Store on the corner has lots of them.” The last thing I heard were the three girls screaming at their father for a new iPod Shuffle—as the elevator doors closed, the father’s smiled was gone. Now that was funny!

Things didn’t change much as I flew to Anaheim on Sunday. Whether in the mall, walking past Disneyland or eating dinner, people are coming up and asking me a variety of questions about the iPod Shuffle. One question that nobody has asked me yet is if I mind that it has no interface—it’s like they don’t care at all.

I even started mentioning the fact that it doesn’t have an interface to see what kind of reaction I would get. So far, they all said, “Yeah, I know, but you don’t need one.” I found that very interesting. Some of the people were iPod owners already, some were going to buy one for the first time. Regardless, everyone, including me, seems impressed with the iPod Shuffle.

At $99 and $149 I think Apple has another huge hit on its hands.

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