Mini? Really?

I know there’s been lots of talk about the new iPod mini Apple introduced yesterday. Price-point aside for a minute while I focus on marketing/branding: Is it just me? If we’re speaking in relative terms, shouldn’t the name of this new device be iPod Slightly Smallerâ„¢? Ok, so it doesn’t have the same ring as Apple’s dubbing. But let’s be honest. There’s not much difference in physical size between the new mini and the full-size iPods. The problem everyone is decrying: not much difference in cost either.

I walked over to MacWorld yesterday afternoon in hopes of seeing somethinganything — that might recover from the uneventful keynote earlier in the day. I stayed a full 20 minutes. “Disperse, there’s nothing new to see here” was what I wanted to yell out loud. I found nothing interesting, at least for my taste and needs. There were certainly plenty of people milling about, but so many of them just looked lost. Like they still hadn’t found what they came looking for. We’ve certainly become accustomed to having MacWorld wow us with shiny new products that instill a lust that can’t be described. This year, that didn’t happen.

Despite my rants among friends, I will note a few positive thoughts about the new minis now that I’ve seen them in person.

After holding them in my own hand, I will say that they feel pretty nice. The current full-size iPods suffer from extremely sensitive buttons. The mini’s solve this with the “enhanced durability and sensitivity of the iPod Touch Wheel” which seems to function really well. You still loop your thumb (or whatever finger) around the wheel to scroll, but then actively press in to click one of the four buttons. Sort of like the directional buttons becoming so popular on phones and PDAs. A nice touch that minimizes how much you have to move your thumb around when you’re navigating menus and playlists with one hand.

The other thought I had: Why not back the full-size iPods with the same anodized aluminum of the minis? I don’t care about the colors, but from the very get-go of the original iPod, I thought the chrome backing was ridiculous. You could track a criminal with the fingerprints it draws.