The Nano, The Camera and the Steves
May the iPod nano rest in peace. Apple finally but to bed arguably their most colourful device, in the shadow of the technology that has overshadowed it for a while now. Sure the iPod shuffle shares the demise, but it’s the nano that will be missed. You know, not from a useful-tech perspective, but from a sentimental perspective. If you didn’t have one, you knew someone who did. It was arguably the most colourful leap forward in tech of its generation. Something Apple would do well to bring back into their repertoire (have you seen the pathetic pastel offerings of cases and devices of late?).
But all this got me thinking. It’s crazy how fast things can change. In my business, it’s very evident that the latest technology is already dated the moment you leave the shop. A quick think back to my first ever computer reveals either how fast things can change or just my age. One of the two.
I remember going to PC World with my family as my Dad discussed specifications with the salesperson. I was far too young to know what he was talking about, but if I were to go back as a fly on the wall, I think the PC’s specifications would be laughable by today’s standards – but – back then, it was top of the range.
I remember the giant CRT monitor, that would take up the majority of the desk for a relatively small image size. I remember the giant horizontal CPU, complete with floppy disk drive and the brand new ‘CD Rom Drive’ that was only included on the newest of machines. Complete with Microsoft 95 operating system, this bit of kit was world changing for little me…
And aside from the fact that it didn’t have an internal modem, DVD technology or even enough memory to save a single video file – this machine was something special. Probably because it was the first PC my family had ever purchased. It also meant that I could load up and play Microsoft Hover at home, rather than sneaking into Dad’s work to play on his office machine.
But for me, the thing that really dates the machine isn’t the above, but the peripherals that accompanied it. Dad’s negotiating skills landed us another piece of kit, a brand new Digital Camera. Unpopular and rarely heard-of at the time, the thought of a camera that downloaded to a computer was thrilling, at least at the time of purchase.
The Fujifilm Digital 1 Megapixel camera was top of the range. But a memory card 1/3 of the size of a floppy disk, the data cable with a connector adapter as long as my mouse and a battery life that was literally ten minutes of snapping – it didn’t make a lot of sense to me once it was home. I mean what was the point of taking photos and downloading them to a computer? I knew scanners existed, although I’d never used one, so why not just scan better-resolution hard copies? The computer could barely handle to low-resolution images, let alone collect multiple shots.
As a result, the camera quickly became a permanent resident of the bottom drawer beneath the computer alongside unopened Windows manuals and startup disks. It wasn’t until years later, where I would learn the value of a digital camera when my university professor uncle showed me a camera that put mine to shame.
By this time, the Internet age had truly begun and digital camera megapixels had increased dramatically. Suddenly the point of a digital camera became more apparent. Sharing, saving, duplicating, editing! The possibilities were endless!
But it made me think back to the person who considered the first digital camera. Steve Jobs is always referenced as the ultimate visionary in technology – but I think there were so many more. The inventor of the digital camera technology did so prior to the Internet age. So either he envisioned where it would go, or he stumbled across the greatest fluke in camera history. Maybe it was the latter, but I prefer to imagine it’s the former. The guys’ name is Steve Sassoon. That’s a fun name to say. It’s also further evidence that Steve’s rule the tech world.
Having the ability to have the foresight into where trends will run is actually what separates a business from a booming business. I’m not stating either of these Steve’s are the be-all and end-all for tech, but I am saying that their foresight paved the way for new avenues that were previously unimagined. Except they managed to imagine it before it existed.
And much like the digital camera that took crappy 1mp photos paved the way for the stunning displays of excellence of Canon’s today, the nano continued the path from the iPod into the smartphone and tablet market today.
And that’s how I want to remember the Nano. Sure, all the happy memories too – sneaking the Nano into my Sainsbury’s uniform, plugging it into the youth sound desk, slipping it into that tiny little pocket in your jeans – you know the one (The pocket in the pocket? Seriously – what is that for now that the Nano ceases to exist? I digress). All of this is great and will be fondly built into the Nano memory – but the most important memory will always be the the value of forward thinking it played a part in.
So as we look back fondly on the iPod nano as it’s framed firmly as part of technology history, let it be a reminder of bright forward thinking. Perhaps a colourful inspiration to do the same, not only in tech, but in all of life’s opportunities.