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I’m the Music Analyst, So I Can Post on iPods, Too September 5, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Michael’s our personal tech guru, so his take rules. But he’s going to have to convince me that a couple of casual games and video on a teensy screen will actually bring new iPod customers to the table. I think the mainstream press has the right lede: i.e., the iPhone price cut.

That said, if I were an iPod hardware competitor, I’d be crying in my beer. This is a really solid refresh, and the pricing is particularly aggressive-seeming. I don’t see much of an opening, except for a low-cost, small capacity device with a screen. And music phones. Who cares about video? No one has a video collection yet, and the stores have shallow shelves. Video is not like music, where everybody had MP3s already, and a killer device exploited that.

Over-the-air iTunes is nice, but will be appealing to a small group of impulse purchasers at first. Apple’s synching and pricing strategies are superb. And it appears to have a nice mobile access UI, too, which’ll be critical in the long run. Of course, the WiFi-only store doesn’t feed the real devices, just the iPhone and the curiously crippled Touch (no email? huh? no serious storage for video??). And we don’t exactly have ubiquitous WiFi in the US yet. But everybody does WiFi cuz nobody wants to cut the telcos in. Too many hogs at that trough for anybody to make any money, it seems.

Mobile iTunes has no share-a-song with a friend story. Even though, unlike Zune, these beasties could actually communicate with each other, either aurally or with a text message. To me, that’s cooler than OTA downloads, for the moment, for all the grief the poor Microsofties get. After radio, a friend’s recommendation is still the number one purchase influence (Figure 12) or discovery tool, according to our surveys. And recommendations rate higher the younger you are (Figure 3).

I do like the Starbucks store tie-in, but this is like the Nike exerciPod. Cute, but no game-changer.

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