Wednesday, September 5, 2007

New iPods! Are we still excited?

Up in the sky! It's an iPod! It's an iPhone! It's iPod Touch. Huh? Even Apple has their moments of branding clumsiness, but perhaps it's just hard to get excited about a new form-factor iPod that's really just an iPhone with no phone. But like the name, this is either a great moment of marketing savvy, or a fill-in-the-gap product that means more for what it isn't than for what it is. What do I mean by this bit of confusion?

My first impression of the phoneless iPhone had to do with my eldest son, Timothy, whose music library expands to fill any available disk space. Great, I thought, a "cool" new interface for his next iPod. But then one notices that the iPod Touch is only available with 8gb or 16gb, one tenth the capacity of the updated iPod Classic. There are modestly updated Nanos and Shuffles, as well, which is nice, but not really the big news here.

So who is the iPod Touch for? Answer: all the people writing to Apple to say they'd really like an iPhone, but don't like or can't use the AT&T Wireless network that iPhones are wedded to. If I'm right, then this is not a key, long-term market, merely a stepping stone in a mysterious strategy for ubiquitous electronic media branded by Apple.

I choose not to join into this guessing game, but Apple TV, which is not exactly a revolutionary hot potato, and the iPod Touch, want to lead somewhere. The question in my mind is if, like two parallel rails vanishing in the distance, they will come together at some point? I'm in no particular hurry to find out, but I like to think that Apple knows what it's doing and that these pointers, place markers, interim solutions, whatever you want to call them, will all make sense in retrospect.

At the same time, Apple gets to collect huge amounts of genuine market research on everything it sells, and make money at the same time. It doesn't matter that the iPod Touch looks disappointing to me or that it feels like just another new flavor of cereal in the marketplace, it's almost as if Apple can't lose these days. So I'm see today's "big news" as further indication that Apple is staying ahead of all who would copy their success and at the same time plotting moves well ahead of any possible response from its would-be opponents. 


Anonymous said...

First paragraph:
'there' should be 'their'
-a well-wisher

Anonymous said...

oh, and also "todays" should be "today's" in the last paragraph.
-another well-wisher