Re: Rewriting history again, Like iPhone
Mage, you've written this stuff before, and you've been corrected before. With links and evidence. Please pause.
At the time of the iPod's release, solid state MP3 players were prohibitively expensive per MB, especially compared to Minidiscs (£1 per 700MB disc from Richer Sounds). These MP3 players were a clear proof of concept, but they could not be called a 'tested market' as you call it. It was clear to everyone (even us then Product Design students) that solid state would one day rule, but that time was not then (Sony had refined concepts dating back several years, of the hardware and of UIs on the device and host computer). We were also aware that IBM, prior to merging with Hitachi, had a micro hard disk (1" not the 1.6")- it was being touted in the trade press. It was a given that a HDD MP3 player would arrive at some point.
At the time, most PCs did not yet have USB 2, so there was no easy way to transfer music quickly. Those of us with Minidiscs (we were students, a key market demographic for such gizmos) used TOSLink to copy CDs. The graphic design students had Macs with FireWire ( for high resolution scanners, soundcards and MiniDV camcorders) which was plenty fast enough for music.
The iPod was released, and it was good. Not that we bought it - it was bloody expensive and only worked on Macs. However, it was a very well designed product. It charged and synced over a single cable, and whilst being comparable in size to a MiniDisc player it was far smaller than a sock full of two dozen Minidiscs. Whilst my Sharp MD722 had a big scroll wheel, it wasn't used for track selection (no need for a single album). It offered clear advantages to the user over what had gone before - capacity, size and user interface. That prior Creative Jukebox based on a laptop HDD and styled on a CD player was just horrible.
If course in time similar products emerged, usually using the same Toshiba HDD. I had the Creative Nomad Zen (poorly made, the 3.5mm jack soldered directly to the PCB), returned under warranty for an iRiver H320 (superb, more flexible than an iPod, could record line in and mic, could have used a scroll wheel for navigating big libraries though!). The Sony Music Vault - nice hardware but hampered by not being able to play MP3 players, only ATRAC ( this probably resulted from pressure from Sony's publishing wing, and indeed is probably why we aren't now discussing the Sony iPod - they had all the parts they needed from a technical perspective). Etc etc.
All the while, the cost of solid state memory was falling, as all people au fait with computers knew it would, and Apple could see their portable music lunch being eaten by mobile phones (the word 'convergence' had been bandied around Product Design circles since around the year 2000, probably best personified by the Palm-based Sony Clie PEG NX60, in contrast to Steve Jobs' 'Digital Hub' presentation), and Jobs was persuaded to explore an Apple Phone. Hehe, he didn't like having to present a 'Motorola ROKR with iTunes' on stage!
Oh, I repaired my iRiver by giving it a hard disk from a dead iPod, a straight swap - so what's this you're writing about ZIF connectors? A later generation, I assume?
The iPod was a very well thought out implementation of other people's technologies - but hey, a good implementation is important and a skill not to be underrated.