January 06, 2004

small size, big price

Apple blew it. They had a great new trick up their sleeves, a cute new mini iPod, small enough to slip into your pocket and in an array of shiny new colors, and they blew it by overcharging. What were they thinking? Is Steve Jobs so out of touch with a normal sized bank account that he thinks everyone considers $250 pocket change, impulse spending money? What the hell?

If the point was to compete with the flash MP3 players (and according to his comments during the keynote, that was exactly the point) then why price the thing so much higher? If you offer iPod quality and a much bigger capacity (4 gig rather than 256 meg) but at a similar price point, you wipe the floor with your competition. And you stand strong even after your competition comes out with 4 gig models of their own (which sounds like it'll happen soon). But if you offer the cuteness that is a mini iPod but demand just $50 less than a full-on 15 gig model for ELEVEN GIG less room, well, your customer base suddenly shrank to the people who think a Hummer is a smart car to drive. People more interested in what looks macho than what's good.

I'm also dismayed for Apple that they upped the capacity of their low end model from 10 gig to 15 but didn't touch the middle model. Let's see, I want to buy an iPod. I can't afford/don't need a 40 gig at $500. I now have a choice. 15 gig at $300 or 20 gig at $400. Five gig difference for a hundred dollars? Um, why bother? I can think of other things to do with that hundred bucks, y'know? And I bet a whole lot of other people can too. What Apple just did was boost the sales of their low end model, losing themselves handfuls of those C-notes in the process.

I'm glad I bought that 30 gig iPod last week. Glad I didn't wait. I'm a Mac aficionado from, would you believe, my first Mac Plus, back in 1987, back when a hard drive was always external and was such a relief because it meant no more floppy swapping. I will probably always buy Apple products because they're elegant and intelligent. And the iPod is no exception. But what were they thinking when it came to price? I'm not happy that I have to pay for the iPhoto upgrade either, but that's different. It makes sense. Bundled with iDVD, iMovie, and GarageBand (also iTunes but that's still a free download), that's a lot of bang for your fifty bucks. That makes fiscal sense. Why give it away if you don't have to? But the mini iPods? Two hundred fifty dollars? Come on.

On an unrelated iPod note: does anyone know exactly what the advantage of the dock is? I've got one, comes with the 30 gig, but I can't figure out why it's any better than just using the firewire cable to go directly from my iPod to my PowerBook. Is it just for people with desktop computers who don't want to fiddle with the connections behind their computers all the time or is there something else I should know?

Posted by Tamar at January 6, 2004 10:13 PM

I just knew you'd be on this. When I caught the item in the NY Times, I remembered what you said before and said: "Oh! let's see what Tamar has ro say!"

And as one who you introduced to the Mac, thus inaugurating a 15-year relationship, I feel free to say: Apple's one of those flakey lovers you can'r resist but *boy* do they break your heart. I'm glad yours came out, in this case, less busted than perturbed,

Posted by: Chris at January 8, 2004 05:57 PM