Is McNealy right about the iPod? Maybe

Obviously, anyone with an eye for history has to take Scott McNealy’s comments about the future of the iPod (i.e., there isn’t one) with a large grain of salt. After all, Scott has been pushing the whole “network is the computer” vision since I was in junior high — or maybe it just feels that way — and we all still use desktop PCs rather than the “thin client” computers that Sun would like us to use.

In a sense, Scott’s requiem for the iPod is just another cog in that particular wheel. The iPod will die, he says, because we will all have devices — phones, PDAs or whatever — that stream the music we want from a server somewhere. Is Scott just jealous of the success being enjoyed by Apple, the company Sun almost merged with three times (according to co-founder Bill Joy), while Sun’s stock continues to bump along the river bottom?

Perhaps. But could he be right? It’s possible. When Sun was pushing its initial vision, broadband speeds weren’t anywhere near as advanced as they are now — and EV-DO and other wireless advancements are starting to bring that to cellphones and PDAs. I’ve streamed my own Mp3 files to a cellphone, an iPaq and a desktop using Orb as well as other services such as Streampad, and you know what? It worked pretty well, all things considered.

Maybe the iPod will turn out to be like the answering machine after all — or maybe it will sprout a microphone and a stylus and become a cellphone/PDA. After all, Apple has apparently filed for trademarks on the phrase “Mobile Me.”

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