General Question

Zyx's avatar

Why aren't portable mp3 players improving anymore?

Asked by Zyx (4011 points ) January 4th, 2012

Storage capacity in particular doesn’t seem to have improved over the last couple of years and that’s pretty much all I care about. I wish I could have a 5TB mp3 player, PB would be even better. (5PetaBytes or 5PeanutButters, either way)

Please tell me if I’m mistaken in my assumption about the development of portable mp3 players.

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31 Answers

Charles's avatar

I bet they have pretty much followed Moore’s law.

Zyx's avatar

except I’m saying they haven’t.

DeanV's avatar

They’ve kind of gone for snazzy features over capacity, for example the iPod touch with 2 cameras.

Zyx's avatar

True… crazy though, I’d pay good money for any decent product.

XOIIO's avatar

Because they product will be long out of date and useless compared to new technology before you fill up 1TB of music.

Zyx's avatar

I actually asked this because the MP3 I’m currently using is (in my honest opinion) better than any other currently on the market. It was discontinued more than two years ago. Is the time it takes the economy to react so long that Apple can just fail upwards for years at a time?

jrpowell's avatar

Hard drives haven’t really improved in years. There is only so much you can cram on a spinning platter. I think most of the drive makers have moved their efforts over to SSD/Flash based storage and that is still really expensive but getting a lot cheaper pretty quickly.

wundayatta's avatar

Maybe it’s because people mostly use other devices for their music players these days. It’s a phone or a video player or internet surfer or god knows what and, oy yeah, it’ll hold all your music, too… or at least enough for today, and you can swap in new music every time you connect to the internet. Which is all the time, anyway.

It costs around $500 to get 6 TB of storage space—at least when I was looking at it on CNET today. But that’s mostly interesting to me because of video storage. Not music storage.

digitalimpression's avatar

Maybe they’re just waiting for people to stop buying the current ones before they break out the “new” and improved upgraded versions.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I think it is because the vast majority of users are only casual music listeners. There is a huge market for products that cater to people who listen to a small amount of music, and care more about the “features” than the songs. In contrast, the number of people who listen to a wide variety of music, and want it with them all the time (like me), is very small.

jerv's avatar

When was the last time you saw an MP3 player with GPS and HDMI outputs? I see one every time I look at my phone. @wundayatta pretty much has it right. Also note that SSDs are getting larger, but the real limitation is cost-effectiveness. You can get a 64GB player now for the price of a 4GB player a few years ago, but ten doublings ( (4GB * (2^10) ) is close enough to 5 TB for purposes of discussion) would take 180 months (15 years) if storage capacity followed Moore’s Law.

@wundayatta That isn’t a portable, solid-state 6TB though. I will grant that it isn’t as bad as the 5 MB hard drive from 1956 but still, 6TB of hard drives space would be too big to fit in a pocket, and a pocket-sized 6TB SSD would bankrupt the average person.

wundayatta's avatar

512 GB SSD $800. X12 = $9200. Maybe not bankruptcy, but still a bit rich for my taste. I don’t need it in my pocket, although it would be nice to have a copy of everything I own with me at all times. But right now my problem is copying or scanning it all into digital format. Then I’ll worry about making it all portable. Backup is also a current problem.

256 GB SSD $443.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta Twelve of those would not fit into my pocket at the same time. My point still stands.

wundayatta's avatar

Damn, man! Get yourself some cargo pants! Or better yet. Sew them into a vest! Terrorists may wear a vest of armaments, but I wear a memory vest!

XOIIO's avatar

And don’t forget the best part about finicky flash memory, if the drive stops working, no recovery! YAAAAAYYYY

jerv's avatar

I prefer my steeplejacks

XOIIO's avatar

Man, found this great promo video for the 305

zenvelo's avatar

There are 160GB iPods. That’s an awfully large amount of music, “40,000” songs. That’s like 16 weeks straight with no repeats. I know very few people that have that much music. So I doubt there is that much demand.

willbrawn's avatar

I think because there is no market for them. Or Atleaat it’s very minimal. The mp3 player changed apple. Do they currently rely on that feature now? No, once they introduced touch devices it changed the game. People want and crave more functionality. And sometimes what they think they want they don’t actually need. But that’s a different topic.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Zyx you do realize that 5TB of music is roughly equivalent to 1.25 million songs right? That’s approximately 9 years of constant music (24/7) without repeating a single track.

jerv's avatar

@gorillapaws That depends on the encoding. Still, even in a bloated, lossless format, that would still be “ridiculously much” music.

Zyx's avatar

@gorillapaws @jerv
Ridiculous or not, my music collection is almost 200GB. That’s without lossless since I can only fit 30GB on my MP3. Then there’s the fact that my current MP3 also plays video and outputs HD and has a radio. If I could I’d put audiobooks on there as well, a single one of which is usually the size of an album. Filling 5TB with video really shouldn’t be a problem but more than that I think I should be able to use the storage medium I’m (hypothetically) paying for as a damn storage medium and not a damn jukebox.

Thanks for your answers everyone, but I don’t see this going anywhere anymore.

XOIIO's avatar

Get one that uses SD cards and buy a few 64 gig SD’s, then just swap them out as you run.

jerv's avatar

@Zyx You are technically correct about us having the technology, but it doesn’t come cheap. Look at the price of a 256GB USB thumb drive and realize that any storage used by an MP3 player will have more in common with that than with a laptop’s SSD. So, how much are you willing to pay for the storage space you want?

They are working on it, but unless you are willing to carry around something the size of a boombox or pay thousands of dollars, you are just going to have to wait. I know people who have larger collections than you, and guess what? They know enough about computers, electronics, and economics to know why we don’t have large-capacity MP3 players.

You do realize that we were supposed to have colonized the Moon before the year 2000, right? And where the fuck is my flying car?!

Zyx's avatar

I know stuff, damn man. And just recently I asked the flying car question myself. I blame capitalism for everything except capitalism.

jerv's avatar

I think that this particular issue has more to do with economy of scale.

Many people don’t need much storage space since current tech (like 32GB players) is good enough for them. Most people stream anyways; you don’t need storage to stream, and you definitely don’t if you are using The Cloud.

You are correct about Capitalism playing a role here, but look at it from their point of view; why make something that won’t sell? Sure, if they sold a few thousand and then geared up for mass production, prices would eventually plummet once the R&D and re-tooling costs were recouped. But as it stands, they are having a little bit of a hard time selling 128GB laptop SSDs because many people prefer cheaper things. Why pay more money for less storage? (Many of these people also do not understand the difference between a Core i3 and a Dorito; they are both chips…) Sadly, I don’t see portable mass storage really being a priority for companies or for most consumers either.

Look on the plus side though; modern MP3 players have better screens than ever before :D

gorillapaws's avatar

@jerv ” Sadly, I don’t see portable mass storage really being a priority for companies or for most consumers either.”

I think having HD video in 3d or hologram or some other data-intensive form will probably be the next technology to start driving the push for more storage capacity. I think until that happens, it is as you say. Who knows how far off that will be though.

jerv's avatar

@gorillapaws Why? I mean, with on-demand streaming, is storage really needed?

gorillapaws's avatar

@jerv I can think of lots of times when on the go that streaming video (especially high-def) isn’t very practical. Not to mention that data plans from mobile carriers are abusive at best, and completely unreliable at worst.

jerv's avatar

@gorillapaws That doesn’t stop people from snapping up smartphones though. If we were talking about knowledgeable people with a healthy dose of common sense, I would agree. We aren’t, so I can’t.

Bigdawg1013's avatar

Hell, Ill settle for 250–300 gigs, Ive just about filled up my 160g ipod, and Id rather reload as much as possible as FLAC and ALAC, if I can..anything costing less than 2000 bucks out there?

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