Integrating the iPod

Buzz Delano
Delano Associates

There are over 220 million iPods out there, just waiting for an electronic systems contractor to spec them into a system and make some money. The iPod economy is huge and growing.  Cases, chargers, screen shields, table radios and a myriad of charging and playback docks have all created a huge revenue stream from Apple’s innovation and of course, The App Store has changed the usage and buying habits of everyone who has downloaded even one App.

The iPod began as a portable music player and seemingly overnight went podcast, photo, video, phone and gaming on us.  Today the iPod, especially in the form of the iPod touch, is a lovely device to use.  And for you, the custom installer, it’s even more lovely if you get to know it and install control systems for it.  You need to design your systems to accommodate not one but multiple iPods in your clients’ homes.

Your first order of business must be to know how an iPod works.  If you don’t know how to sync, manage libraries, adjust settings and maintain its firmware updates, then you’re lagging in your knowledge.  The iPod is now “AV 101.”

Contrary to popular belief, the iPod can sound quite good.  It just requires adjusting certain settings in the associated iTunes library so that when CDs are ripped into iTunes and synced to the iPod, they retain their full bandwidth and are not compressed.  For a client with a huge CD collection, providing them with the service of ripping those CDs into their iPod is a great idea and one that can be easily accomplished over the duration of the job. For those of you interested in a reportedly good, lossless audio ripper, you might want to check out http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/ I have not yet used it but plan to and I’ve seen it referred to a few times by serious music collectors.

Learn the iPod interface.  The iPod classic menu is pretty straightforward and offers tons of cool features like the variety of EQ settings and the ability to create playlists, either manually or through the “Genius” application.  You can perform most settings on the iPod itself or at the iTunes interface on your computer.  Get to know the iPod touch and iPhone interface, too.  It’s sleek and fun and remarkable how intuitive it is.

Your clients depend on these devices to always be convenient, synced with new movies and music and charged up.  So, a few strategically placed iPod docks in the home is a great design solution.  And have we got the right solution for you – iPort.

The iPort team has been living the iPod life since 2004 when Sonance broke all the rules (again) and put the iPod in the wall in the original SonaPort.  Now, the iPort range of In-Wall (IW) and Free-Standing  (FS) series is way more veratile, elegant and priced across a suitable range for all needs.

Let’s start with the iPort IW.  In-the-wall cool-factor makes it a requirement for family rooms, bedrooms and fun spaces in the home.  A favorite of mine is an IW in a rack-mount panel with the component stack with its standard white faceplate swapped out for a black one.    Looks killer and sets you up to sell a compatible two-way control system to access the iPod content from remotes and touch screens around the home.

Configuring the iPod for two-way (RS-232) control is really easy with iPort as they’ve collaborated with just about every control company to provide modules so that iPods docked in a two-way iPort (IW-22, FS-22) can be controlled around the home.  The iPod stays charged docked with all the other components so it’s always ready to be called up for action.  You can even distribute videos stored on the iPod if you add the iPort balanced video kit to each whole-house iPort.

When an iPod is being controlled from a third party device (such as a touch panel) it enters what is called “Extended Mode.”  This is Apple lingo for “you can’t control the iPod from its front panel.”  The scroll wheel and touch screen functions cease and you use the other device to navigate the menus.  The iPod touch and iPhone show a white screen that says “Accessory Connected” when it is in this sub-conscious state of control.  Simply docking the iPod into a properly installed iPort IW-22 or FS-22 places the iPod into extended mode.

Now serial communication is taking place between the iPod and the control processor thanks to the innovation inside the iPort so you can sell more hardware and customized programming to your clients.

The iPort FS-22 can also be integrated in the same manner, placed on a shelf in the rack or just about anywhere this cool-looking block of aluminum and acrylic makes sense. The other opportunity you have with the iPort FS is to design the system to include an FS-21 at each computer location so the client can easily sync their iPod with the library on the nearby computer.  Just dock the iPod, press the iPort front panel “jewel” to sync. The FS-21 makes a great personal listening device when you plug in ear buds to its rear panel audio jack and listen.

And, to make things even more interesting for iPort dealers, the highly anticipated FS-23 with on-screen menu navigation is now available.  Now you can also design an iPort to be installed with one or more TVs in the home and show your clients how they can navigate their iPod on their TV with just a simple remote control.  Easy, fun and definitely a gorgeous visual interface as you’d expect from iPort as everything they do is class and styling to the nines.

So, with just this one leading brand of iPod docks, there are just a few ideas on how you can sell iPod integration to make happy clients and improve your bottom line.  Design, sell and integrate more iPod + iPort systems to help your business grow.

If you want to ask a question about iPod or iPort, please feel free to email me at buzz@delanoassociates.com or contact techsupport@iportmusic.com

Delano Associates have been serving as business development consultants for iPort since 2005, working on all aspects of the business, branding, sales and product strategy.