As usual, Paul Thurrott gets most of this wrong…
Incremental. It’s official, folks. The iPod market is now mature. There wasn’t a single major announcement at today’s event
Which is what most who knew what was going on suspected. And yet there was actually great stuff there if you cared to pay attention.
If you think that’s bad, though, look at the Zune: They had Apple right where they wanted them (i.e. with nothing cool to announce) and couldn’t even pull a new device out of its hat.
Let’s take a closer look at the Zune announcement. They have WiFi to use at home and maybe the office (where you don’t need it because you have a computer), but not in public hotspots that require a browser that the Zune doesn’t have. It’s an embarrassing joke. What’s amazing is that Steve Jobs stated WiFi in most CE devices doesn’t work because they have no browser, yet MS did their stupid marketing bullet-point update anyway. The rest of the Zune announcements went downhill from there.
“New” iPod nano. Or as I call it, the second-generation iPod mini. Or the second coming of the first generation nano. Or Apple’s version of the flash-based Zune. Whatever you call it, one thing is clear: Last year’s “fattie” iPod nano was clearly not the success they were looking for. Back to the drawing boards. Oh, I do like the colors though. And the accelerometer is interesting. Why isn’t it in the classic?
Is putting the word new in quotes supposed to fool us? No one can compare today’s nano to the last generation and not see that it’s indeed very new. As for slamming last year’s model, I didn’t see any dip in iPod sales for the holiday season or the rest of the year. Still 10-11M a quarter. Not bad for something supposedly not a success.
Back to the drawing boards? Apple simply utilized the very design they perfected along with an accelerometer they helped to popularize. This was a natural progression.
Oh, and an accelerometer isn’t in the classic because there’s little reason to rotate it (rotation’s mostly for wide-screen video) and because you probably don’t want people shaking your hard-drive based player.
“New” iPod touch. OK, they lowered the price. And they added back iPhone features like a speaker and external volume toggles that quite frankly should have been there in the first place. Do we salute Apple for that? No. No, we don’t.
Again with the quotes. This is where Paul is the most lost. Then again, he needs to be because the touch is where all of Apple’s competitors are so far behind it’s laughable.
First, at the time of the touch introduction the iPhone dropped to a new price of $399 and required a two-year contract. The touch was $299 with no contract. Do you think your extra $100 and two years of data/voice plans couldn’t buy you a little something like hardware controls and a speaker? The idea that the touch should have had these on Day 1 at its price point just goes to show how suckered Paul is by Microsoft’s belief that you should sell your hardware at a loss.
Now, with millions of iPhone and touch sales Apple can get more aggressive. They added the #1 most requested feature, and also a speaker (which was my #1 requested feature), made it lighter and better sculpted for the hand, refined the interface and dropped the price of the 8GB model by $70, and the others by $100.
I don’t salute Apple for anything, but those are terrific improvements to the touch line and, as I wrote about earlier, the most important update of the day in my opinion. Anything Apple does to get its mobile OS into more hands is great news.
Finally, while we’re on the subject of the touch, there is nothing out there that can even touch (heh, pun intended) the first generation units. Not only the hardware, but Apple’s multi-touch interface and mobile OS X, the iTunes integration, the beautiful screen, and the app and WiFi stores (with WiFI you can actually use). Nobody has anything even close. And yet, today, Apple just rendered it old hat. Remarkable.
NBC shows are back. I love this one, and it’s another example of Apple being the bad guy. A year ago, NBC left iTunes because Apple wouldn’t give them the variable pricing they wanted. Apple claimed (and its closest iCabal fanatics parroted) that NBC just wanted to sell TV shows for more than $1.99. But that wasn’t true: They wanted to sell older shows for just 99 cents per episode. And longer, mini-series-type shows for $2.99. Now, in the words of the New York Times, “both sides now say they got what they wanted.” Put another way, Apple caved to NBC’s reasonable and customer-centric demands and NBC got what it wanted. Bravo.
This is utter nonsense. First, if NBC was “customer-centric” they wouldn’t have pulled their content from the #1 store on the market. In the middle of the season, no less! They gave their customers a big “FU” and now Paul tries to re-write it as some sort of act of courage? The fact that they pulled everything tells you that this was an act of pure greed, stupidity, and hubris on NBC’s part. Much like the record companies providing DRM-free music elsewhere, NBC thought they could put a dent in iTunes’ universe. They were wrong.
What you saw today, Paul, but will not admit because you’re a FUD-spewing Apple basher, was NBC acknowledging defeat and coming back to a store they never should have left in the first place. It hurt them. It hurt their customers. It may even have hurt their stockholders. They’re back now because they know they’ll make $$$, and also realized their little temper tantrum and ego trip did them no good.
The NYT is right, though. Both sides did get what they want: Apple held the line on pricing, and NBC is now back on the #1 online video store. Smart move by NBC to swallow their pride, but they should have done it six months ago.
Oh, and one more thing. There was no one more thing. And that stinks. Because these announcements don’t amount to much more than a cheerleading session for continued dominance.
Stop acting as if the mainstream iPod (the nano) has to sing and dance at each announcement. It simply has to offer the strongest overall product in its category (it does), provide great value (it does), and keep improving (it did). Thinner, longer battery life, accelerometer, improved interface and features, beautiful curved design with great colors, and twice the memory — all at the same price point. Why would anyone pay the same price for, say, a year-old Zune design with WiFi you can’t use and an online store with half of iTunes’ content and horrendous DRM on each track? Not to mention paying for those tracks with “points” that Microsoft collects up front. As for the touch, Microsoft and others are years away from getting there…
The new nano and new touch are incredibly strong announcements, and position Apple very well not just for the holiday season but beyond. The touch, especially, is untouchable by the competition.