Blog Post

Fired Apple exec behind new iPod competitor

Sansa ConnectSanDisk has launched a Wi-Fi-enabled MP3 player, Sansa Connect, and a central player in its creation is Zing, a company co-founded by former Apple executive Tim Bucher.

Using built-in Wi-Fi, the Sansa Connect can stream Internet radio from Launchcast stations, browse Flickr photo streams, and download any tracks or albums via Yahoo! Music Unlimited To Go subscription service. The software that allows it to connect to Yahoo!’s various Internet services was developed by Zing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As described on Zing’s web site, Bucher previously “headed up Macintosh Engineering, where, among many other things such as creating Mac mini, he managed the core technology groups of Apple’s iPod.” Other hardware products he was involved with include WebTV, UltimateTV and the Xbox.

Bucher took over Apple’s Macintosh hardware engineering division in 2004 after Jon Rubinstein was put in charge of the brand-new iPod division. But only six months later he was mysteriously fired. He then sued Apple for wrongful termination contending there was no cause and that he was denied compensation.

Because of the Sansa Connect’s integration with Yahoo!, the $250 device is being promoted by Yahoo! Music’s Ian Rogers, who justifies the monthly subscription price by attacking iPod users as thieves:

For those of you about to complain about the $12/month to get unlimited tracks (like, um, Steve Jobs), check yourself before you riggity wreck yourself. Labels and artists get paid for every radio play and every Yahoo! Music download to the Sansa Connect, whereas we all know iPods are mostly full of not-paid-for MP3s.

If you think Rogers’ use of the ‘check yourself before you wreck yourself’ phrase was an isolated instance, here’s a list of other hip phrases he uses in the blog post: “It’s pretty fresh, Hells yeah, homey, yo, Word up”

20 Responses to “Fired Apple exec behind new iPod competitor”

  1. Ian,

    I’ll ask again with CAPS since I seem to be getting ignored…

    HOW MUCH DOES THE ARTIST GET PER PLAY / DOWNLOAD USING YOUR $12 / MONTH MODEL???

    Do you know?

    • thomasinno

      I know: this thread has been dead for 2 years, but…

      Since artists only get ~$1.00 per $15.00cd purchase, I would assume that since the “monthly fee” is less than the $15.00 fee of a new CD that the artist probably makes about ninety cents per month…

      You can buy a used cd for less than a dollar to $5.00 and not only is the sound quality is far superior to mp3 sound quality, but with 5-20 songs per cd, you can own better copies than you will ever “rip” or “download” for between 5 cents and one dollar per track…far cheaper than itunes or this new sandisk “keep paying forever” business model…
      And, if your Ipod or PC hard drive ever dies, you won’t need to re-purchase them!

      Here is a good link from an artist telling you to steal her music!
      http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/06/14/love/print.html

  2. master composter

    I don’t think Yahoo! should retain the services of someone who posts inflamatory remarks to the general public. It is bad for business as a music and advertising venue. Does anyone know the best way to let Yahoo! know this?

  3. Reginald W

    I wasn’t on usenet way back when, not even now. My time on usenet was brief in the mid to late 90’s because I found it resembled the forums on the multi-line BBS I used to run in the early to mid 90’s. Way too much crud, way too many fights and way too many people with a broom up their backsides pretending that they had a backbone. I couldn’t be bothered.

    I don’t post too often to comments, it just depends on what was said and whether it looks like something I should comment on. A lot of time I write something and then look at it and say, “nah.. not worth it to hit the submit button.” and I just close the window.

    People trying to ridicule someone continualy, call them names and such even after they have apologized for whatever indescretion just gets to be bothersome for me to read. I’m no saint, and I’ve got my own opinions on stuff, but life is too short to deal with the crud.

    So Ian, if you are still reading this, stick it out if you wish to. You’ve done your apology once, even done it twice and a third. Forget about apologizing any more. Ignore the crud. If you are not one of the paid shills that are only looking for hits, then you choose if you want to deal with however many idiots there are on the infinite World Wasted Web.

    I’m not pointing fingers at anyone. We can all be idiots when we misunderstand someone. Communication through a keyboard is tenuous at the best of times, Being in a hurry, having a zillion things on your mind or personal issues on the boil can lead to brain damaging thoughs where you say ” what was I thinking?” after you read your writings a day or several later.

    Meh. Too much pontificating already. I had only wanted to raise another issue on where the money goes that I’ve seen seldom mentioned anywhere. I don’t yet own an iPod or any mp3 player. If/when I get one, it will likely be at a cross-over point where new units are introduced and I get an older one at a better price. Better way to find out IMHO. And I do have a whack of CD’s I can put on whatever player I get. Might even get me back to listening to music, cause I don’t listen to a lot of it now.

    And BTW Ian. Thanks for the info. Any further info as to amounts? There isn’t a lot to go around for the artists. And does the artist get the full amount or is it their 10 percent with the rest going to the label/media co/rep/whomever?

  4. howaboutsomespecs?

    If the Sansa Connect is the iPod nano killer, it had better get into fighting trim. The specs I’ve found online suggest it is almost 3 times thicker than the nano and slightly taller and 25% wider than the nano. It’s also as expensive as the 8GB nano (the Sansa does have 4GB of flash built-in plus an SD slot for expansion).

    Sansa Connect: 3.58 x 2.05 x 0.63 in @ 2.72 oz
    4GB – $249

    iPod nano: 3.5 x 1.6 x 0.26 in @ 1.41 oz
    4GB – $199, 8GB – $249

    For comparison, here are the specs for the HDD iPods:

    iPod 30GB: 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.43 @4.8 oz
    iPod 80GB: 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.55 @ 5.5 oz

    Jeez, the Sansa Connect is 14% thicker than the 80GB iPod!!! The Yahoo Unlimited service had better be pretty amazing because the Sansa Connect looks gimmicky and clunky to me.

  5. The musician gets paid ‘per listen’ ??

    I know it must depend on the label and licence deal, but please for the info;

    If we are an indie band and get listened to, how much are we talking about?

    Can you place an approx. $ amount on the payback to the artist?

  6. Reginald: to answer your question, the artist gets paid every month you listen to the track, and they get paid per listen. So the payments reflect your listening behavior, not your purchasing behavior. Which you could argue is very fair and could amount to more perennial income for artists long after the album is sold. But this is a debate for another forum.

    All: with both the Perl comment and the weak Ice Cube reference, tongue was firmly in cheek. Sorry for the humor not coming through.

    I think if you read what I originally wrote, and my numerous apologies and explanations, you’ll see I never intended to call anyone a thief for ripping CDs. Again, I’m sorry for the insinuation. I just bought a great CD from Not Lame (Infinite Monopoly) and ripped it to my Mac using iTunes and didn’t feel at all like a thief.

    The whole point of the blog and checking in on a conversation like this is to be a human being, not a faceless corporation using PR speak. I apologize to anyone I might have offended by having an opinion, trying to have a sense of humor, and speaking my mind. I do find it very “usenet circa 1991” to call me an idiot over and over when I’m clearly right here reading every word, but I’ll get over it.

    For what it’s worth, I’m an Apple fan, was a NeXT fan/owner/programmer in the early 90s, and am typing on a Mac right now. Thought maybe I’d find some like-minded or at least understanding folks at The Apple Blog. Clearly I’m unwelcome. Blog deleted from NewsFire. Sorry to have caused a stir. Ta.

    ian

  7. Reginald W hit upon an issue that many artists should sit up and listen to. The $12 per month going to schemes like this means exactly what to the them?

    In my circle of musician friends many are crying the blues for the industry that has made a mockery out of the value of music. The $0.99 cent mentality soon to be $12 for unlimited downloads will only exacerbate the financial ruin of musicians trying to eek out a living.

    The labels only wish to foster bands that are one hit wonders and condone throw away hits that have no ‘album’ support. With this model, the music is a toss away and merchandise becomes the money maker. We trade our albums in so we can wear t-shirts.

    When you consider that the average band get 10% to 12% for the music that is licensed by the record labels, the prospect of making a decent profit to support your career is only going to suffer, unless you adopt a better model such as creative commons.

    I’d sure like to know how musicians are going to make money on the continual devaluation of their music. Eventually people will start to tire of the trite crap that is sold in today’s pop world. Look at who’s #1 – Justin Timberlake? This music is total crap. Rubbish. The Beatles and EMI have it right. Screw the downloads and start buying the bloody album for which it was intended to be sold as.

    Better start going to places like cdman.com and start making CDs so you can at least sell off the stage and make a decent profit.

    B.

  8. @sjmills: I don’t know… I know of many 12 year olds who could make better decisions than calling potential customers thieves for using a device that they don’t promote. I also know of a few who would act much more professionally (See “Check yourself before you riggity wreck yourself,” “Homey” and “Word up”) when speaking on behalf of a group of people…

    @ian: I, as well as many people I know, don’t consider myself an idiot, but I also don’t consider myself someone who knows Perl — Another time you should have watched your tongue fingers. Oh, and I believe that you (You as in mankind, or more specifically members of the music industry, not you as in you as in Ian C. Rogers) can strike a balance between consumer and record label. I also think that Jobs is doing just fine as far as that goes — I don’t expect him to be a god though, he is just a human and humans tend to have imperfections.

    @all: All in all I think this device actually looks promising… Granted, I’m not big on subscription services, but I could see having a low-end subscription for a device like this. I couldn’t have this as my sole device though, I’m too in love with my current iPod/iTunes setup.

  9. Reginald W

    I think that money is the big issue between buying tracks and getting a subscription. You have to look at where the money goes for what you get.

    When you buy a track, it is the same as buying a portion of a CD, meaning that it is measurable, trackable and with artist contracts, means that the artist should get a portion of the sale, whether there is a management company or not.

    When you buy a subscription, you are not buying any particular track. If you download a thousand tracks, how much does each artist get of the $15.00? I would venture to say that the service gets a cut, the management company for the artist gets a cut, but the artist gets paractically nothing.Also, Yahoo may say that the artist gets paid, but how much each month goes to the artist for the same track that was downloaded several months ago? Does the artist get paid ONCE for the download or do they get paid every month?

    In transitioning over from physical media (CD’s, Records, Cassettes, etc.) to a digital format, the artists, music companies, management companies and recording societies are having to completely change how they do business and justify their staying in business in some cases. Each wants to at a minimum maintain what they make and preferably wants to make the others lose so they gain more of the pie.

    iTunes allows the artist to jetison some of the management companies and still be able to make some decent coin, even if they are not a huge superband. The stores that “licence” the music still requires a management company in the middle to ensure that they get their fair share so they can give the artist their slice – after expenses.

    Time will tell of course how the industry changes, but those who will lose from the changes will be the most resistant to the change.

    This is just my view of the industry and the fight for the money as I see it. YMMV. Industry images in the rear view mirror may not be as big as they seem.

  10. DBL, we’re actually trying to offer something easy, reasonably-priced, and convenient for the music lover that also works for the record industry. I acknowledged that this isn’t an easy deal to strike, but do think it’s worth the effort. But music subscriptions aren’t for everyone, and I acknowledge that in my post. If it’s not for you that’s fine. Many people love it. Personally I can’t imagine buying my music for $0.99/track. To each his/her own.

    It seems to me you’re saying that you’re *either* for the consumer or for the labels, and that there’s no point in trying to strike a balance. If Steve Jobs believed this, we might not be where we are. He was instrumental in bringing the labels together and creating a new model.

    Speaking of which, forget NPD. The fact I was stating can be found in Steve Jobs’ anti-DRM post:

    “Today’s most popular iPod holds 1000 songs, and research tells us that the average iPod is nearly full. This means that only 22 out of 1000 songs, or under 3% of the music on the average iPod, is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with a DRM.” – Steve Jobs, Feb 6th, 2007

    Again, my mistake was in adding the “not paid for” line, when clearly many many of those songs are from absolutely paid for MP3s. For this I apologize.

    sjmills, your post has a typo in it. s/in/is/ (that’s a Perl regular expression, as any idiot would know).

    ian

  11. sjmills

    If Ian actually speaks the way he types, he’s an idiot for sure. What is he, 12? And yes, monthly fees to listen to my music in insane. I don’t pay monthly fees for CDs I buy.

  12. You’ve missed the point, Ian. Your entire approach to your potential customer base is backwards. It’s not the insult that was the dumbest thing about your statement; it was that you were essentially telling your target market: “Up until now, you’ve had it too easy, and we’re going to fix that.” That tells everyone where your loyalties lie, and it “clearly” isn’t with your customers.

  13. OK. Our Santa Monica offices are easy to find. See you there. I’ll buy you lunch. Warning: there might be an aptitude test. ;)

    For what it’s worth, I wasn’t calling you a thief. It’s actually a well-studied fact that on average (you and the others on this thread may very well be the exception) a very small percentage of files on iPods are purchased from the Apple Music store. Again, folks like NPD can share the exact stats on this. But you’re right, many many many of those “other” files aren’t stolen, they’re from ripped CDs, which is perfectly legal. Regardless, they don’t represent any incremental revenue for the music industry, where the files downloaded to our device from our subscription service (and played on our radio streams) do. That’s the point I was idiotically trying to make. Sorry again for the flippant and oft-misunderstood comment.

    ian

  14. Josh, David, and Gordon,

    Apologies for the flippant remark. Here’s my original clarification/retraction, which I posted to the comments on TechCrunch yesterday morning:

    “Damn. Apparently I can turn any news item into an argument about file sharing! This was supposed to be about this rad new device! :)

    Anyway, Michael is at least partially right to criticize my comment, which was made flippantly, as an afterthought to the blog post, and wasn’t buttoned up for a debate such as this one. Any conversation about where the music on an iPod comes from needs to take legally ripped music into consideration. Groups like NPD study this and you can talk about this on an actual percentage basis if you do your homework.

    I, however, was looking a little further out. There’s no question at this point that CD sales are declining and digital sales aren’t growing fast enough to make up for the gap. I’d like to work to create a new paradigm (or a set of new paradigms) that works for music lovers as well as music creators. Do I think the model we have today with YMU and this device is perfect? No, I don’t. But I think it’s a step in the right direction and many music lovers are going to dig the freedom of unlimited portable music discovery and the piece of mind of knowing that Yahoo! is paying for every track they listen to.

    We will get there. It’s my job to make sure we do.”

    Apologies to anyone I insulted directly. It clearly wasn’t my intent.

    Thanks for the name-calling, though. Next time lets do it in-person.

    ian

  15. Gordon Anderson

    Same here. Not a single not-paid-for song on my iPod. Way to go insulting potential customers. or maybe not, as it is probably unlikely any iPod using, iTunes shopping portable music lover would look twice at this thing.

    The target market seems to be peeps who are currently stealing their music, and starting to feel a little guilty about it.

  16. David Bailie

    I agree with Josh.

    This guy is a complete idiot, I for one (and I’m no angel) can honestly say there is not 1 single stolen song or video on my 80Gb iPod. Not a single one. There’s not a lot bought from iTunes either, I’ve just bought a lot of CD’s in my time.

  17. “…we all know iPods are mostly full of not-paid-for MP3s.”

    I’ve convinced some people really are just born idiots. That’s the only way I can possibly justify how comments this stupid come out of the mouth of a human being.