UNPACKED | iPod nano
Today, I shall be unpacking an iPod nano and giving you my two cents as I do so. I must admit that prior to my handling my first iPod, I've always wondered what the heck the fuss was all about. Aren't all MP3 players alike under the hood? Isn't the iPod just a dandied-up MP3 player? And isn't the nano just a prettified flash drive? The answer is Yes, Yes and Yes. Under the hood, anybody can make tech specs akin to what's found on the nano. And you can expect other manufacturers to come out with larger flash drives, better color video resolution, and other kinds of touch-type interfaces real soon. But what makes the iPod different is the attention that Apple pays to the experience of ownership. Anybody can make a flash drive with a color screen. But thus far, only Apple seems to have mastered the ability to make its owners feel, well, pampered. Packaging plays a big role here. And packaging is what UNPACKED is all about... So how does Apple make the new owner feel extra special? For starters, the materials used for the packaging appeal to the senses. The box comes in a silky matte finish and is about the size of a double-CD box, the better to emphasize the compactness of its resident device. The look and feel of the container makes you feel as if you're holding the product of some high-end design studio. There's no doubt that this was intentional. After all, slide the inner box out and you will find a particularly fashionable statement: Apple lets you know what's inside the accessories section of the box in its own elegant little way: Unfold the box to find the creamy white filling. Nothing to clutter the senses. All your attention is focused on the nano itself. The nano is wrapped in a quick-release protective plastic shroud. Pull the tab to unleash your nano to the outside world. The accessories compartment includes the following: Earbud Headphones; a Dock Adapter that allows the nano to be used on standard iPod docking stations; two pairs of earbud foam pads -- in black, unfortunately; and a USB cable that also serves to charge the unit. The nano also comes with an elegant leatherette carrying pouch to protect your unit from the elements. And then there's the usual support bundle consisting of Quick Start manual, iTunes CD (although you are better off just downloading the latest version)... and even two Apple stickers to show off your pride of ownership. And there you have it, the iPod nano. Unwrapped. If you think about it, there's nothing so cutting edge about the packaging materials involved. In fact, the packaging here is almost minimalist. But there's a lot of showmanship going on here, something that Apple's Steve Jobs is known for. And perhaps this is something that other manufacturers can pay closer attention to. The act of unraveling a device's packaging is a very special moment to a new owner. Make him feel very special and he will be more willing to forgive the product for any possible foibles. So to all the other manufacturers out there who want to delight their buyers: forget the shrinkwrap plastic, forget the garish eggcrate cartons, and forget about just bundling accessories unceremoniously into the box. Presentation counts. Oftentimes, a lot.