Analysis of Apple's "It's Only Rock and Roll" iPod event

By Mark Sigal
September 10, 2009 | Comments: 5


This one had the feel of a paint-by-the numbers session. All tactics and little magic.

Phil Schiller (re) citing the litany of bullet points that make the iPod Touch such a compelling device, educating us on the import of specific price points and offering "low-cost gateways" to the App Store.

A wow fest of big numbers to set the table:

  • 20M iPod Touches sold

  • 30M iPhones sold

  • 100M iPod nanos sold

  • 225M iPods sold

  • 100M credit cards on file (with one-click activation)

  • 75K apps (21K gaming titles v. 3.7K for Nintendo DS v. 600 for Sony DSP)

  • 8.5B songs sold

  • 1.5B app downloads

In this respect, it felt closer to a trial attorney stating their case (or worse, a cabal of economists) than the usual dazzle and spectacle we expect from Apple.

But here's the rub. While they more than set the table, this was one of those rare cases where it truly felt like Apple either failed to wow us with the meal, or maybe, the main course never made it out of the kitchen (based on last minute rumors of technical issues on the much anticipated camera/video cam add to the next gen iPod Touches).

Either way, the net out is that the revs to the iPod nano feel like a valid, if uninspiring, effort to squeeze more life out of the aging iPod line (versus driving users to a converged iPhone OS based Touch/iPhone product matrix).

Specifically, the nano gets video (but not camera stills); radio; pedometer and voice recorder, all of which allows it to be positioned at $149 (for the 8GB model) as akin to baking a Flip Video device into an iPod for free.

By contrast, the iPod Touch gets cheaper but not better (other than a storage/processor bump), requiring no less than Steve Jobs to make his triumphant return to the big stage (and a coincident timed interview with NYT's David Pogue) to explain that people want iPod Touch for gaming, they want it cheaper and they don't want to pay for extras, like a camera.

I don't buy it, and am holding off buying iPod Touches for my family as a result, but that's the story and they are sticking to it. For now, at least.

Netting it out: the magical return of Steve, combined with Schiller spending way too much arm-waving time presenting the Touch as if we weren't already familiar with it for two years running. Candidly, it felt like filler, a by-product of something having gone wrong.

That said, maybe it's not that complicated. Maybe Apple has read the tea leaves, and for the time being is pushing price as a 'WHY NOW' differentiator, and saving gee-whiz features for a rainy day; namely, when a serious competitor emerges or the buying consumer demands more from Apple to open their pocket book.

In the mean time, if you care, check out iTunes 9. It's loaded with a slew of new features (iTunes Extras, Home Sharing, Facebook/Twitter sharing, App Organization, App Genius Bar, Genius Mixes). Me personally, not so much.

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It is amazing to see how much of an impact the Apple brand has made not just in the business community but the general public also. It is interesting to see that the amount of iPod Touch units is not that far off from the phone.

Agreed. Many people wondered just how big of a market the Touch would be, not understanding that this was a platform play and/or the built in leverage that Apple has via iPod. I expect the same surprise when their Tablet computer re-defines that market.

Hmmm...I would say I agree that it wasn't shocking but I was pretty thrilled with the changes to iTunes, specifically the added ease with Apps...Definitely looking forward to something ground-breaking though!

@Ryan, fair comments, and I am perhaps being too hard on Apple, but what hit me the wrong way about the event, beyond a sense that some part of Plan A didn't come together, is that Apple is a company that has made its mark (and secured its premium) by being bold and executing on same, and this event felt safe.

It's like something my old English teacher said to me in giving me a B- on a paper in response to my comment that my paper was better than such and such student, who got a higher grade.

Her counter: "You are an A student, and FOR YOU, this was B- work." That's how I felt about this event. Apple is honor roll and this felt like a B- deliverable for them.

Is it possible to use photo gallery in this blog??? Thanks

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