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Duke To Issue Latest iPod to Freshmen

By Blane Warrene MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jul 20, 2004 10:09 AM PT

Duke University will issue the 2004-2005 incoming freshman class the latest model of Apple's iPod in a pilot program expected to spawn new thinking from educators and students at the school on how audio and video content can be used in an academic setting, the university has announced.

Duke To Issue Latest iPod to Freshmen

The iPods will originally be loaded with Duke-specific content to initiate the new students with the university and its services, according to yesterday's announcement. The cost to the university is expected to be $500,000.

David Menzies, manager of news and information for Duke's Office of Information Technology, confirmed the university will also be providing a portal for students to access and download recorded lectures, course information and even purchase music for use on the iPod.

The fourth generation iPod from Apple, released yesterday, has either a 20-GB or 40-GB storage capacity, weighs 5.6 ounces and supports add-on accessories for voice recording and photo storage.

Tech-Savvy Students

Gartner G2 senior analyst Michael McGuire told MacNewsWorld the university chose not what the market had available but what students would want to use.

"Kids these days are extremely tech savvy, and our focus groups have proven that out," he said. "They have big demands on technology products, and the multiple capabilities of the iPod will make it hard to pry it out of their [students] hands."

McGuire also said this is not a selfless act by Apple, which has seen increased competition in the academic markets.

"They are a pioneer in the education sector and want to ensure a new generation of kids are imprinted with its brand as they will be consumers soon enough," McGuire said.

Dual Use Nature of iPod

Michael Goodman, senior analyst with Yankee Group, said this is the next logical step in the evolution of a device that has taken pop culture by storm.

"It really makes sense to use it in this fashion; while students will be excited about listening to music, many will probably also hang on to helpful information provided by Duke," he said.

Goodman explained that given the iPod supports both Windows and Mac, the device will not alienate a student who comes armed with a computer of either type.

"This could really be considered a user trial to see just how people will find ways to use their iPod," Goodman said. "Apple really has an advantage here since they can address 97 percent of the marketplace with this particular product."

McGuire thinks professors will latch onto the iPod as a new content-distribution method for their classes.

"Now a political science professor could pull down live interviews from NPR or some other outlet and get it to kids in the class," McGuire said. "There are numerous applications for it, and we should see some creative uses."

A Burgeoning PDA

Goodman said he believes there is another thread to this story, considering the iPod's quasi-PDA capabilities.

"The features might be limited, but how do most people use PDA's -- they look up addresses and have a calendar and perhaps a few text files," Goodman continued. "This could arguably be called a test bed for the iPod's capabilities to win over converts for those features as well as the music," he said.

Goodman added that in a PDA market that is relatively flat, Apple could potentially look attractive to all but advanced handheld users to the iPod if they so desired.

McGuire cautioned that this will be one of Apple's biggest challenges going forward as the newly formed independent iPod division ramps up future design and development.

"How will they maintain the core value of the iPod, namely digital music, and still add attractive, useful features without becoming a swiss army knife -- capable of all things but master of none?" McGuire said.

Salesforce Commerce Solution Guide
Has technology made transportation more or less safe?
Traveling by all modes of transportation has become riskier with each passing year.
In general, transportation safety has been improving steadily, despite some failures.
Some modes of transportation have been improving while others have become less safe.
We may have reached a tipping point where more tech means less safety.
Don't blame the tech -- greedy companies haven't done adequate testing.
Government regulators have not been playing a strong enough oversight role.
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