Because the only significant story in the tech press today is about Apple (as is true every time Steve Jobs gets on a stage), I have become far too aware of the various iPod and iPad updates announced. I find it interesting that Apple chose to replace the most popular model, the nano, with a version completely unlike the one which sold so well – it now has a touch screen and no buttons. Since the iPod classic was not mentioned, one assumes it is being led out behind the barn for an Old Yeller moment. That leaves the iPod Shuffle as the sole remaining iPod with buttons. Apple has decided that you can either have buttons or a screen, but not both.
I personally use my Sansa Fuze in the car, and the tactility of the physical buttons is the only thing which allows me to jump past a song while keeping my eyes on the road. I’ve heard that people who listen to their music while exercising are also quite fond of physical buttons. Would those people now have to resign themselves to the screenless shuffle (4 gigs of music without a screen? Ick) or does Apple just not care if some portion of their market jumps to a Samsung or Sansa or Creative player instead?
Of course, this assumes that Apple purchasers are sane humans who weigh the balance of features they need and desire against the value proposition they’re offered. I’ve seen no evidence that is the case, so Apple is probably safe in betting that everyone they’ve already hooked will wander into an Apple store in a hypnotic trance and buy the latest doodad that Steve says they want.