Apple’s stock is down on the announcements today, and someone has done a neat job of tracking the price and movement on each announcement. Interesting stuff.
“That thudding sound you hear is the Zune.
‘But we dropped the price of the 30GB Zune to $199!’ says the Zune team.
Alas, they may have brought a sharper knife to the fight, but as the amazingly apt Andy Ihnatko said, Apple brought a cannon. That’s the difference between being an innovator and a wannabe. I think Microsoft may want to rethink that Zune strategy which seems to be ‘make shitty versions of great products, and hope the people making the great products never improve theirs again’.
Thus far, it’s not working real well. “
“Here’s more evidence of Microsoft’s lack of leadership. Less than a year ago it introduced a $299 Wi-Fi enabled music player. Microsoft knows a bit about operating systems and browsers. It has developed a mobile operating system for years. Yet the Zune has none of the interesting features of the $299 iPod Touch.”
As Bynkii put it on Twitter, “That’s why they’re Apple and Microsoft is your lame uncle harold in a leisure suit and penny loafers hitting on college chicks.”
“The Starbucks gimmick may be the start of something important too. Take your iPhone or iPod Touch into a Starbucks store and it will add a new button to the front screen. Push it and it will tell you what song is playing in that store and allow you to buy the track. Starbucks can be first with this sort of application because it is already wired for Wi-Fi, and the music application is a natural. But of course your phone or other wireless device will start to ping you with information — wanted or otherwise — as you move through the commercial world. Vendors have been talking about wireless coupons, etc, for years, but here it starts.”
Oh yes. Other companies have tried this kind of thing before – I seem to remember there being a radio you could buy in the US which let you press a button when a track was playing and download it later – but you know that when Apple does it, it’s going to be seamless and simple and just work the way you expect it to.
First the iPhone and now this. It’s been a long time since Apple has done things which make me drool like a fanboy.
“Bottom Line – I believe Apple once again met and exceeded increasingly high expectations. It now has a very deep and complete product line for going into the holiday season, at amazing price points and feature sets that will drive different customers into different purchase funnels. While Apple could easily have kept price points on some of these models higher, they wisely chose not to do so. This is not about a re-fresh of the products aimed at the existing market.
Apple is NOT preaching to the choir here, they’re looking to get a whole new customer into the house of worship and that’s exactly what’s likely to happen this holiday season”
“One more thing… iTunes Wifi music store. Free previews, works on iPhone not sure if it works on iPhone or not, same pricing, same selection. Buy a song, and it syncs back up to your computer when you get back.”
Strangely, I started writing a post predicting exactly this yesterday, but couldn’t be bothered to finish it. My pundit days are over, obviously.
But it was, in fact, entirely predictable. The pieces have been in place for a while – ever since that little “transfer purchases back to your iTunes Library” feature popped up in iTunes, and WiFi was added to the iPhone.
“YouTube, Google, and Yahoo builtin as well. Wow. It literally is iPhone without the phone. Thanks for playing, AT&T.”
Yes, it’s an iPhone without the phone. Neat. I’ll be buying one of those then…
Some of you may have already heard, but tomorrow we’re dropping the suggested retail price for Zune to $199. It’s part of the normal product lifecycle, something we’ve had on the books for months. We just got some research back and customer satisfaction with the 30GB device is really high (around 94%) and we expect even more consumers will now want to discover the Zune experience at the new lower price.
Oh sure, this is nothing to do with what any other company might be doing on the 5th. Nothing at all.
Actually, a more interesting observation is on the language. There really isn’t any passion in the way the poster talks about his product. It’s all about "some research", "the product lifecycle", and so on.
A simple proposal to anyone blogging about their product: before you type, think "how would Steve Jobs say this if it was his product?" Then write that. It will sound a lot better than this kind of bland corporate-speak.
Looking at the decisions of some of the TV companies, it makes me wonder if they aren’t determined to live up to one of the stereotypes of movies: the smart, doomed character determined to undermine their own success and destroy themselves.
Take, for example, NBC’s decision to dump the iTunes Store in favour of Amazon. This has been described by some as a power struggle, with NBC determined to curb the power of Apple as a distributor. Yet it also reflects unease with what the TV companies see as Apple’s “lax” DRM:
“‘Protecting content’ is a tip of the hat to NBC’s concerns over DRM. Amazon and Apple both use DRM for video, but Apple’s DRM policies are considered to be ‘too lax’ by many players in the TV and movie business. Apple’s terms allow for authorized for playback on as many as five different devices. Furthermore, Apple-approved devices can be authorized to play content purchased from five different accounts.
Compare Unbox: Shows bought from Unbox can be kept on two computers max and can be stored on up to two different (approved) media players. Users cannot ‘mix’ accounts, meaning that a PC cannot have authorized content purchased from two different accounts accessible at the same time. As you can see, Unbox is more restrictive.”
The mistake that NBC is making in this context is two-fold. First, it is making the assumption that the reason for iTunes Music Store’s dominance is down to its compatibility with the iPod. This is a a massive error.
Flexible pricing is attractive to marketing teams at companies, which is one of the reasons why NBC sees it as attractive:
“While Amazon is still working to determine pricing, Unbox typically charges more for newer releases than for older ones. Unbox also gives consumers more options, including whether to rent a movie for $3.99 or buy a download for $14.99. Amazon agreed to offer promotions, including a 30 percent discount when buying full seasons of television shows.”
However, all these things have been offered by music services in competition with Apple – and all of them have failed when compared to iTunes. While iPod compatibility is important, the number of iTunes Music Store songs on each iPod is, on average, very low – Forrester estimated 22 songs last year, and it won’t have gone up too much. While there’s undoubtedly a degree of lock-in between iPod and iTunes, for the majority of users switching would not be a big issue, if other stores offered something compelling.
The prime reason why the iTunes Music Store has been a success is that the DRM system it uses doesn’t get in the way of the consumer. I’ve used both Windows Media DRM-based systems like the PlayForSure-based Napster and Apple’s, and Apple’s is far, far more friendly.
In fact, it’s effectively invisible to the majority of users – the only time you notice it’s there is if you try and use an unsupported platform (ie Linux) or really do want to try giving away your music to someone else (which is a legal no-no.)
Secondly, it is forgetting that the competition includes torrent sites and other which will distribute its content, for free, in higher-resolution and better quality formats than it’s expecting consumers to pay for. These sites offer a greater degree of “friction-free” consumption than any DRM-based store, for less money. Unless your DRM system is as invisible as Apple’s, or better, you will fail.
The video industry is forgetting the lesson which the music industry is only just beginning to learn: treat your customers as friends, no enemies. If you want to sell content online, this should be the first thing on your mission statement.
Dave Winer doesn’t like synching:
“I think synching is a bad idea, but Apple’s mobile technology is built around it. I dislike synching. I want my devices to go straight to the cloud, both ways. My podcast player should have a built-in podcatcher. And my podcast recorder should also be a publisher.
Seems unlikely that Google’s phone will depend on synching. It will be more Dave Winer-compatible than the iPhone is.”
The thing is that it’s not an either/or. There’s no reason why you can’t have multiple machines synching local copies of cloud-based resources, allowing you to work online and off without any issues.
Think Plaxo. Think Google Gears. Yes, even think some of Apple’s technology. The iPod was a winner because synching was seamless and largely faultless.
Synching done right can be a major plus on top of cloud-based computing. Done wrong (and I’m looking at you, ActiveSync) it’s a major pain in the behind.