So Apple’s share price took a dip with today’s announcement of new iPod flavors, colors, and price cuts. Basically, Wall Street saw through Steve Jobs>"/>
So Apple’s share price took a dip with today’s announcement of new iPod flavors, colors, and price cuts. Basically, Wall Street saw through Steve Jobs boasting “a total refresh” of the digital music gizmo, which is still basically doing what it did six years ago—only with new flavors, colors, and price cuts. (Yawn.) What caught our attention in this repackaging effort was the iPod Touch model, which comes Wi-Fi enabled, announced with a new retail tie-in deal with Starbucks, whose stock has fallen about 22 percent this year. According to the two companies, “When a customer enters a participating location, their device will automatically recognize the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store using a high-speed Wi-Fi wireless network with no connection fee or hotspot login. Customers will be able to browse, search and freely preview millions of songs, including a new “Now Playing” service which displays the name of the song playing in the Starbucks store at that moment, then easily buy and download songs or albums directly to their device.”
Your old iPod—time for a replacement, sucker!—can’t perform this trick, though your iPhone or laptop will. Selected Seattle stores, plus some in New York, will be first to debut the new connectivity on October 2, which rolls out nationally next year. But seriously, kids, isn’t there something kinda creepy about Steve Jobs and Howard Schultz sniffing inside your purse, pocket, or wherever else you stow your iPod? Because when you cross the threshold of a Starbucks store, your iPod will “automatically” connect to that iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, and connections work both ways. There’s nothing in the press releases about permission or blocking this retail snooping. Does the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store check the contents of your device? Will its “Now Playing” service soon be modified to suggest songs you don’t already own? Will it check for illegal downloads? Will it copy your playlists for future marketing? Might it send you coupons, messages, or other helpful shopping suggestions? (“If you like Coldplay’s ‘Yellow,’ you might also like a pound of Kenyan organic blend.”)
Says Starbucks chairman Schultz in a company press release, “Introducing this new service is a natural extension of our music strategy, which only enhances the retail coffee experience for customers by helping them discover and acquire new music instantly.” Well, somebody’s discovering something, that's for sure. And until more questions are answered, Starbucks customers may want to consider leaving their iPods at home.