Pete Mortensen over at the Cult of Mac recently wrote an excellent article about how the “Get A Mac” ads have run their course. I enjoy a chuckle as much as the next guy, but it’s getting a little stale. What else is rotten in the state of cupertino? iPod updates. Or should I say Zune clone renderings that have made my stomach turn a little bit.
I’m all for innovation, and working on product lines continuously to make them better then their predecessor models, but these stark updates from one year to the next are a little bit too much to handle. We went from the traditional nano to the fat nano to the…long nano in the matter of a couple of years. That’s a major shift, and not to many product lines undergo that kind of shift from one year to the next. It’s a little bit dangerous, and a little bit smart all rolled into the music player.
The little bit dangerous is that people are getting iPod fatigue, much like many of us are getting “Get A Mac” fatigue. For a while every time a new iPod came out, the changes were drastic and prolonged enough that I immediately felt the need to pull out my credit card and buy one on command during the Stevenote that was underway. It’s natural consumerist behaviour. New is better, it makes us better than our neighbour–in our minds. But, two hundred dollars a year to get that updated model is starting to eat away at that college fund we’ve set up for the kids. Two hundred dollars amortized over two years, or better yet three years makes more sense. It becomes more of an impulse buy.
The little bit smart is that people who are on the cusp of updates have been holding out for new models, and their dreams are likely to be answered on September 9th. Introducing a new model is a great way to increase sales, and that’s something that keeps the stock holders happy.
My concern is that these model turnarounds run a little bit deeper than just keeping stock holders happy. It’s that iPod sales on the whole are beginning to stagnate, as people probably have two or three functioning iPod models kicking around their houses. As you can see by the aforementioned dangerous and smart comparison paragraph sizes it looks like it’s more dangerous than it is smart.
How many iPods do you have kicking around your house, and more importantly, how many of them work just fine? I’ve got 3, and the iPod: Zune edition won’t be one of them.