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Woz: Goodbye iPod, Wassup iPhone

The one's dying, the other's being strangled says Apple cofounder.

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Can the iPod stay on top or are its days numbered? Is the iPhone critically limited? What's with the downgrade on AAPL? What's happening with Web 2.0? Are we headed to a mini-crash in technology stock? The Daily Telegraph interviewed Steve Wozniak to find out what he thinks.

Last week AAPL tumbled 20% after two analysts downgraded the stock on fears the consumer spending slowdown would seriously hit future profits. Wozniak says the downgrade was correct - a statement that could end up wiping further millions of the shares as the stock's tanked by 45% since August 2008.

'It's time for the whole computer industry to maybe have a bit of a slowdown', says Wozniak. 'For twenty years we've been in this replacement and upgrade market. It's very easy to postpone that when there are financial irregularities.'

$5 trillion was wiped out in the dotcom crash; Wozniak sees that possibly happening again.

'The iPod has sort of lived a long life at #1. If you look back to transistor radios and Walkmans, they kind of die out after a while. It's kind of like everyone has got one or two or three. You get to a point when they are on display everywhere, they get real cheap, and they are not selling as much.'

Eat Songs and Die!

CNET's Don Reisinger says he can't wait for the iPod to die.

'Finally someone on the inside at Apple has made some sense about the iPod and its future. Although it may be difficult for Apple zealots and even CEO Steve Jobs to understand, the iPod is not going to be one of the most important devices forever, and if we consider the impact the Walkman had on the industry, the iPod should be moving to the execution chamber in the next 5 to 10 years', writes Reisinger.

'How many times must Jobs find his way to the stage only to show off an iPod with barely upgraded specs and a so-called fresh design that we've seen already? Granted, the iPod Touch is unique in its own right, but the iPod Nano and Shuffle have been the joke of the iPod world for years now. The design changes look more like Apple felt it needed to do something to get people to keep buying them, so they went from long and thin to short and fat and back to long and thin again. And don't even get me started on the iPod Classic.'

'Why do I look forward to the day when the iPod's no longer the toast of the town and finally enters the retirement home? It's simple: it means that the industry has grown, more innovative products are finally available, and we can get away from all the derivative garbage we're seeing at every turn.'

'I think the iPod is the main reason why innovation is at a standstill in the PMP market.'

'Nothing will change until Apple experience a year of declining iPod sales. Once that happens, the competitors will panic and try to be the first to market with something innovative and Apple will be forced to make serious changes to the iPod or come up with something new altogether. And once that happens, the market should start booming with innovation once again and I can't wait until that happens.'

Others at CNET also go farther than Wozniak: they say the device is already dead. 'Apple will still sell millions of units every quarter and might even continue to grow unit sales and revenue for a while', writes Matt Rosoff. 'But it's clear from Apple's most recent announcements the company no longer view the iPod as the main vehicle for innovation: new (old) form factors, colours, and one interesting update are the kind of incremental tweaks you make to a cash cow product line, not the ground breaking innovations that move markets forward. Apple passed the mantle of innovation to the iPhone a year ago.'

Not Keeping the Customer Satisfied

But Wozniak also has his doubts about that device too.

'Consumers aren't getting all they want when companies are very proprietary and lock their products down', says Wozniak in the understatement of the millennium. I'd like to write some more powerful apps than what you're allowed.'

Wozniak is uncomfortable with the cult status of Apple and claims Steve Jobs is as well.

'I'd like to have the users influence the next generation. With a religion you're not allowed to challenge anything. I want our customers to challenge us.'

Future products? Uh - no comment.

'I think [Jobs] would be sitting there right up until the day it is introduced', suggests Wozniak who goes on to suggest the future of the Cupertino gadget maker may lie in an 'iWatch'.

At no place in the published interview did Wozniak so much as mention that other oft-forgotten product of Apple Inc.

The computer.

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