Neil Young sang, “Rust never sleeps” and true enough, he’s never allowed himself to stop dreaming. Tomorrow he’s unveiling his possible iPod killer, called Pono, at the SouthbySouthwest festival in Austin, Texas. The MP3 player will cost $399, and comes with a website called Ponomusic.com for buying music a la iTunes.
A press release went out this morning with links to Ponomusic and to Kickstarter for ordering the product. Unfortunately, the links don’t go anywhere– that’s a bad sign. The link to Neilyoung.com brings you to an editorial by Young about pollution in Shanghai.
Also, the press release came not from Pono but from Young’s label, Warner Music Group. It’s unclear what involvement the company has or if its owner, Len Blavatnik, is an investor. The idea of Pono, with a 128 GB capacity and potential for expansion, is to bring high end audio to portable music players. (Of course, you’re still not really going to get that using earbuds or Beats headphones. But that’s another story.)
Frustrated music fans and audiophiles will wait and see what happens next. The iPod (I’ve got a refurbished one) has a miserable sound. The company that I used to like for its sound, Creative Labs, gave up. So Pono piques our interest. But from the pictures already the shape of the thing– a triangle– looks worrisome.