Desperately seeking iPod insight

I’m puzzling over some iPod questions.

One of the people I’m working with has the lovely, generous idea of giving several hundred iPod Nanos to his clients. What makes it relevant, and not just swag, is we would load the iPods with: an example of his podcast, his audiobook, a playlist he has chosen and perhaps some music he performs (he’s an accomplished musician).

Two issues have come up. First, is there any way to simply load similar content onto several hundred iPods? Second, and looming as more important in my mind, will all that content be wiped out when the recipient takes it home and associates it with her or his iTunes. We can get all the content in straight MP3, no AAC or whatever, I’m sure. But my experience with iPods is that the infernal things just love to wipe out everything given the opportunity.

Any helpful hints from readers?

17 thoughts on “Desperately seeking iPod insight

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  2. Jon

    Load the iPods with the music but also give them the same material on CD or a flash drive so when they associate the iPod (and essentially wipe it) they can reload it. You could also give a link on a business card to re-download it if you have the bandwidth.

    Hopefully they will use the iPod and listen to some content before wiping it, and if it is good stuff they will reload it.


  3. Patrick Fitzgerald

    Load the content onto the iPod, but also stuff the same content into a folder of the iPod’s flash drive. You could also add other non-audio content to the flash drive.

    Of course this assumes the user will be sophisticated enough to pull the content off again, so you might be better off giving them a web site to download it.

    As far as loading the content, I doubt you’ll find an easier method than just using iTunes to synch each iPod.

  4. Rex Hammock

    I asked a similar question on behalf of someone last Christmas. Several commenters had ideas and may help, but not likely. (And the person I was asking for only wanted to give away one pre-loaded Nano.) Too many moving parts to this challenge with the most important being the need for the recipient to synch the iPod w/ their computer.

  5. Zack

    Load the music on the nanos normally through iTunes, then turn on Disk Mode, and copy the music as data files to them. They can then associate the nano with their own copy of iTunes, and drag the music files from the nano to their own iTunes library for future syncing.

    Additionally, Apple formats it’s iPods in either Mac and PC format (HFS+/FAT32), so for best results, you’ll need to have both kinds of nano and ask the user which one they want. Or you could do them all FAT32, which will work for the PC people, and slightly annoy the Mac users.

  6. Michael G

    I believe this is what is keeping anyone from selling flash based players in a kiosk. It would be a one time listen, or till the battery dies and you have to charge it.

  7. steven v

    if the recipients use iTunes version 7, and don’t already have iTunes and an iPod, then when they first connect it they’ll be asked to reverse-sync – i.e. from the iPod into iTunes – which means the iPod won’t get wiped. It means that you’ll need to give the recipients real clear instructions (and hope they follow them).

  8. Dave Winer

    Lance, the Scripting News readers should know the answer to this one. My guess is that you’ll do better with another kind of MP3 player, possibly one of the Sansa products. They don’t synch, it’s a simpler design, still easy to use. Intriguing project.

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  10. Adolph

    I second the double-load suggestion. Load music w/ iTunes and also as files w/ instructions for importing into their own iTunes library.

    To make it work across several hundred, use SuperDuper (if on Mac OS X) or other backup software to make an image of the iPod and restore it to the rest. You should be able to set it up to do many at once.

    Apple also has a “Corporate Gifting” program. Maybe they would work out a deal to do this for you?

  11. Paul Guinnessy

    The U2 ipod came with their entire album collection on the ipod, so Apple must know how to do it without wiping all your files automatically. I think this is one reason why iTunes 7 allows you to sync various computers with an ipod. However, I don’t know if it works with non copyrighted material.

  12. mal

    There’s a couple other things I thought of too since my first knee-jerk post. iTunes 7 allows you to utilize multiple libraries now. Although getting users to do that would be tricky. And also Newsgator/Feeddemon’s potcatcher FeedStation has promise ( If you got them an account on that in addition to the ipod you could concieveably, potentially give them an iPod and a link to your content as a podcast… It sounds like some people are downloading content to their home computer while accessing Newsgator over the web from elsewhere. I haven’t tried this personally yet so I can’t speak to the feasibility. I just intuitively think the solution lies somewhat in a pie- in-the-sky solution.

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