You iPod fanboys (fanboys not users) never cease to surprise and amaze me. Apple just announced a price drop on the screenless iPod Suffle. From reading your over hyped reader comments on Digg and Engadget you would think that your fascist leader crapped another bar of gold. But what you fanboys are missing aside from the basic reasoning skills are the other players that do not cloud your minds with a barrage of marketing; in other words, MP3 players that are smart consumer choices.
So with this news, I thought that this would be the best time to put the iPod in the ring with a smarter choice and show you that despite the price cut, the iPod Shuffle is still an overpriced shiny object.
There are a few hundred different players with a few hundred different features on them. Consumers are getting used to this choice. So naturally, when a new player is released, users are request companies to add the features they want. MP3 player makers include many popular ones so as to “cover all the bases” and appease as many users as possible. This is the way that anythingbutipod manufactures have tried to compete with the Apple- offer just many more features at a much lower price, while Apple offered simplicity at a premium. Both strategies are viable since there are many types of consumers.
While Apple’s strategy has worked well, they are now feeling the pressure in the market and are slowly absorbing the jack-of-all-trades approach. It is not as profound since it has been very gradual, but if you look at the history of iTunes, you will see how cluttered it has become by having to accommodate the many features added to iPods over the years. They also continue wow us with petty but impractical ones like “cover flow” as if we were a bunch of attention deficit two year olds.
Apple is on the verge of creating a void in the market where a simple media centric device once stood. This void is now being filled by the Zune, so I write this in hope that Microsoft will continue to offer the Zune as a simple media centric device and not cave to the people screaming for clocks, games, web browsers, and other add-ons. Time, energy, and recourses are better spent improving the users’ music experience.
Researchers say that 58% of current iPod users who are planning on purchasing a new MP3 player say that they will consider the Zune as their next player. The interesting part of this pointed out by one of the analysts is that iPod users don’t show the same brand loyalty as Mac users. The survey showed that only 15% of iPod users would not be likely to choose a different brand.
The study was conducted last in October of 2006 before the actual availability of Zune. Not to mention very little mass Zune marketing has taken place. Survey participants were only shown a photo and description of the Zune when asked the questions.
SanDisk has signed deals with 40 companies to produce accessories for the Sansa line of MP3 players, according to their press release. These companies will join SanDisk’s “Made for Sansa” licensing program much like the “Made for iPod” program. The third party accessory manufacturers are already showing an impressive line up of goods found on their Made for Sansa landing pages: Macally, Altec Lansing, Griffin, and DLO to name a few. These products include a vast majority of the same types of accessories iPod owners have been enjoying for years, including several different kinds of speaker docks, chargers, FM tuners, cases, cables, headphones with built-in docks, and the list goes on.
SanDisk is moving forward in building an ecosystem for their players. I hope that other manufacturers will very soon follow suit.
The notorious patent dispute has been settled quietly behind closed doors. I am happy that Creative got some extra dough in the bank to spend on R&D and marketing, because I really do think that Creative makes some outstanding MP3 players. However, I am not happy that the American patent system is extremely flawed and has again been exploited. You can read about my opinion on the case in this post titled “Apple Copied Creative, Who Cares?” from a few months ago when the case first broke.
On a different and slightly twisted note, according to this deal, Creative will begin to sell iPod accessories later this year. Yeah, that might be a big double-yoo tee eff, but for Creative, why not? Why not tap this extremely lucrative majority market share? They have nothing to lose and everything to gain with this deal.
…and bravo to you Mr. Jobs and Mr. Sim for settling out of court. Keep up the nice clean fight.