Apple's next iPod: a kid-friendly Nano?

Although Apple's new pink iPod Nano will make the company's girly-girl customers happy, there's another demographic whose demands are going unmet. According to a study from industry group NPD, 30 to 40% of kids ages 6 to 10 already use digital-music players, and many of these are hand-me-downs from parents and siblings. However, kid-centric music players are also popping up with more regularity, such as Disney’s “Mix Sticks,” which come in all kinds of (freaking adorable) designs: Cheetah Girls, the Little Mermaid, and Tinker Bell just for starters.

Apple has no announced plans for a kid-friendly Nano, but how long can it be before they make a play? And what might an Apple Nano Jr. look like? Follow the Continue link for a list of features I would recommend, based on watching my young son and daughter use the many tech gadgets I have around the house:

Drool-proof click wheel: This is no-brainer for the toddlers. As soon as the drool hits that click wheel, it's gonna be a sloppy ride. Some tiny rubber treads could do the trick here.

Blinking-text menus: OK, sure, the blinking text on your Web page wasn't such a great idea. But kids love blinking, flashing lights, even if it slows the music navigation to a crawl.

Nano locater: Without some way to find it when it falls to the bottom of a toy box, the Nano Jr. will spend most of its time AWOL. Maybe those flashing-text menus could have a high beam mode.

Near-unlimited battery life: One of the best things about being a kid is that you never have to turn anything off when you’re done using it. This has to be a high priority concern with any kid-friendly tech gadget.

Oh sure, a few of these features might fly in the face of Mr. Jobs’ too-cool-for-school design principles, but the public gets what the public wants. And that usually goes double for kids.

Via Ad Age