V2 iPod Nano teardown

The current issue of EETimes gives us a good look at the innards of the new iPod Nano. Earlier posts on the new iPod have noted the “Apple”-branded chips, which are identified in this teardown. PortalPlayer had supplied the media processor for the original Nano, and has been replaced in the 2nd generation design:

An Apple-labeled ASIC, the S5L8701- B05, comes from Samsung and is responsible for all audio and still-image decoding. Other than the Apple proprietary markings on the Nano’s CPU, labeling tells of an ARM core within the Samsung chip, under 6 x 6 mm in die size, and packaged in an underfilled ball grid array package similar to the Nano’s PortalPlayer-based predecessor. Unlike the first-generation design, which had a separate NAND controller component from SST, the Samsung CPU appears to have integrated the NAND interface directly, reducing cost and complexity.

The article estimates the build cost at $65 to $132 depending on the amount of flash memory, leaving a healthy margin.

Add it all up and the 2-Gbyte second-generation Nano is estimated to have a direct production and materials cost in the range of $65, inclusive of the accessories (earbuds, USB cable, dock adapter). Assuming a slight premium for higher-density NAND stacks, we estimate the 4- and 8-Gbyte versions would have a materials and production cost in the range of $87 and $132, respectively. With retail prices of $150, $200 and $250 for the three models (2 Gbytes, 4 Gbytes, 8 Gbytes), gross margins look good, ranging from 56 percent at the low end to 47 percent at the high end. Of course, other indirect costs related to product development, marketing, shipping and any software licenses are absent from these figures, but the story remains pretty positive no matter what.

I just replaced the battery in my wife’s iPod Mini this weekend, but we’ll probably end up with a new Nano shortly.

Link: EETimes – Revised Nano toughens skin

See also: Apple’s new iPod family — who benefits? (AppleInsider)

Coming soon – one click from SpiralFrog to iPod?

Today SpiralFrog announced a free subscription-based music service. Subscribers will be able to download music to their music playing devices, but will need to listen to advertising presented on the SpiralFrog site periodically, to keep the music authorized. It sounds like the downloaded music would be WMA files, using Microsoft Windows Media DRM.

A couple of days ago, Engadget pointed at FairUse4WM, a Windows Media DRM 10 and 11 removal utility with a user friendly interface.

This FT article says that iPod+iTunes has the largest market share for legally authorized music at 80%. At the same time, it notes the growing number of non-iPod MP3 and other music players coming to market. I suspect it won’t be long before there’s a one-click utility to remove the Windows Media DRM, transcode the WMA file to MP3, and import them into iTunes so subscribers can listen on their iPod or whatever device. It probably won’t be from SpiralFrog, though.

The upcoming Zune music / video players from Microsoft are likely to have similar issues, whatever their online media network turns out to be.

I think it’s great that the music publishers are trying different business models, in this case advertising. On the other hand, I find I use services like Pandora for casual listening and finding new music, then buy the actual CDs of music I want rather than purchasing from iTunes, just so I have a clean, portable DRM-free audio file that can be shipped around the house and across whatever device happens to be convenient. I’d rather just buy clean, portable bits, without needing the physical CD. Where’s the service for that? (Other than allofmp3.com).

More on SpiralFrog from BoingBoing, TechCrunch

Update Tuesday 08-29-2006 21:16 PDT – I see that Microsoft is working on patching WinDRM to block FairUse4WM. (Good luck with that.) And on the iPod front, it looks like jHymn has been getting updates so it can work with iTunes 6 to remove the FairPlay DRM, making those files portable to non-iPod devices.

What’s Inside that Nano?

Alex Muse takes apart his Apple iPod Nano and lays out the pieces so the curious among us won’t have to.

Inside Apple’s New Nano (wonder what’s inside)

For some reason, I get a 1024×768 photo viewing this in my RSS reader, but only 425×321 viewing his web site directly. Obviously, the larger photo has better details.

Wonder if he can get it back together (and working)? Those connectors look pretty fussy.

Update 09-22-2005 13:41 PDT: The Inquirer has some details on the components from a report by iSuppli:

The firm offers a “teardown analysis” which it said showed the device uses a Portalplayer 5021C system on a chip and a Cypress CY8C21434 for the circuitry behind the “click wheel” interface.

It said that these, along with other ICs (integrated circuits), account for 77 per cent of the $90.18 total bill of materials (BOM) cost of the Nano.

The NAND flash memory in the device is made by Samsung, and iSuppli estimates it got a big discount from the Korean giant, making the twin NAND flash parts cost only $54.

Isuppli said the iPod Nano costs $400 when you buy it.

Update 09-23-2005 10:41 PDT: Longer analysis of the iPod Nano bill of materials and margins at Business Week.

iTunes has video podcasting support

I wrote earlier today about my reluctant late-adopter status for audio podcasting, and now I come across an article about Apple quietly introducing video content to iTunes Music Store.

The quiet, fanfare-less launch of video podcasting (in fact, it’s not even clear when it was launched) is a bit surprising for the company, but there may be a reason: there’s not too many video podcasts out there in the wild. Furthermore, video podcasts are currently only playable on your computer, although it seems clear enough that a video iPod is on the way. If you didn’t believe it before, you should definitely believe it now.

I don’t recall if anyone mentioned video on iTunes at last night’s Search SIG discussion. Ev Williams (from Odeo) commented that a lot of what makes audio podcasting compelling doesn’t apply to video, in that audio can be consumed anywhere, and has an existing use model (drive-time radio), while video is typically consumed while sitting down in front of an increasingly large television at home. Eric Rice did show a live demo of video blogging on Audioblog, illustrating the possibility of large scale user-created video content in the future. I’m not sure who’s going to look at all the video, though. Perhaps the same people who are watching reality TV shows.

Once again, I’m well outside the demographic, since I barely watch any television at all these days. If I could get a commercial video podcast service to replace cable TV with, I’d probably subscribe now, though.

Jupiter’s Taxonomy of Mobile Form Factors

Michael Gartenberg at Jupiter describes their taxonomy of mobile device form factors in a post on the the Apple iPod Nano:

Stuff that needs its own bag (ex: business projectors)
Stuff that goes into your bag (ex: notebooks,)
Stuff that fits on your person (ex: PDAs, phones, iPods)
Stuff that’s invisible (ex: watches, key chains, clothing)

Lately, I have a limited tolerance for anything beyond “fits on your person” and am trying (unsuccessfully) to move my mobile setup towards the “invisible” category.

More from Michael on the iPod Nano here.