So, the iPod nano can’t use FireWire… at least it has the decency to say so rather than just failing. Still, considering that FireWire was the original iPod’s only interface when it debuted in 2001, this is quite a fall from grace.
It’s harder on Mac users than Windows users, who’ve had USB 2.0 for longer. Consider the Macs that can’t connect at high-speed to an iPod nano:
- All G3 PowerMacs
- All G3 iMacs
- All G3 PowerBooks
- All G3 iBooks
- All G4 PowerMacs
- G4 Cube
- Most G4 (pivot flat-screen) iMacs
- G4 PowerBooks made before mid-2003 (TiBooks, early 12″ and 17″ AlBooks)
- G4 XServes (not that you would…)
- Pre-2004 eMacs
Note: Dates and specs from apple-history.com
I should be surprised, but I’m not. USB 2.0 has been out for long enough that FireWire is presumably expendable, from Apple’s POV. But, you might wonder, isn’t FireWire required by the Tiger tech specs? Doesn’t that say that it’s important?
Here’s my take: it’s not about FireWire. It’s about planned obsolescence. If you look, you can see a pattern that Apple considers consumer machines more than about three years old and pro machines more than about four years to not be worth supporting anymore. Or, perhaps phrased more nicely, candidates for upgrades. The FireWire requirement on Tiger simply pushes out the first few generations of iMacs and iBooks, and the first G3 pro machines (actually, the non-USB G3 machines weren’t supported by earlier OS X releases either, if memory serves). So adding in the FireWire requirement for Tiger basically obsoletes a number of 1999-2001 consumer machines. Maybe Leopard will push the CPU requirement into the GHz range, to obsolete 2002-3 machines.
The iPod nano’s exclusion of FireWire is similar, just more aggressive. The newest machine incapable of using a nano at high-speed would appear to be an early-2003 iBook model. So maybe there are some 18 month old machines getting left in the cold. Ouch. Then again, Tiger’s CoreGraphics and CoreVideo weren’t supported by the iBooks that were available when Tiger shipped. Double ouch.
Then again, is it realistic to expect support for five-year-old computers? Mac partisans used to take pride in the fact that System 7 only obsoleted the original 128K and 512K “Fat” Mac, and could run on the third Mac model, the Mac Plus. But that said, System 7 came out in 1991, and the Plus appeared in 1986, so even then, the standard was to maintain compatibility only with machines five years old or newer.
I don’t know how this is going to fly if Apple fancies itself a consumer electronics company. When Sony launches the PlayStation 3, it is expected to be backwards-compatible with software from PlayStations 1 and 2. Consumers expect their stuff to last, and don’t appreciate arbitrary limitations meant to make them buy new products.
Don’t think it’ll be a problem? Come back and drop a comment if you see the following footnote sometime around 2007:
Note: Songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store prior to iTunes 7 cannot be played in iTunes 8 or iPod atto.
Or should I be happy to give Apple my money on their schedule, not mine?