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February 17, 2005

Comments

Matt McDougall

I personally think that Apple is just hitting its stride.

Everyone seems eager to point to the "coolness" of Apple's design aesthetics, and the trendiness of the iPod, but Apple's strength is more than skin deep. Yes, the iPod sells because it is cute/trendy, but also because it works so well.

Long-term, Apple's strength is in the user experience it provides. There are better digital music players than the iPod, that have more features, cost less, etc. But none of them offer a complete digital music solution as tightly integrated as the iPod and iTunes. I think that the ease of use is a major factor in the iPods success.

And, it will be a major factor in Apple's continued success. The iTunes Music Store just announced its 300 millionth download. THREE HUNDRED MILLION. Those are songs that will only play on the iPod. What we are seeing here is lock-in. When the second and third generation iPods start fritzing out, people will buy new iPods, because they don't want to give up their music libraries. That, I think, is excellent insurance against the possibility of Apple losing its cool factor.

I won't even get started on the Mac Mini, or the next logical step in Apple's consumer electronics evolution - a movie equivalent of the iTunes Music Store...

Ankesh Kothari

>Apple will lose its cool factor now that it's hit mainstream with iPod

I've heard that a lot of times.

The coolness factor doesn't entirely depend on scarcity. Apple won't lose it's coolness just because every one is using their products.

If that would be the case, Virgin would never be cool.

I think, as long as Apple finds a way to be different than other companies and products, it'll be cool.

The bad thing is, product designing is easy to master and any other company can come up with a better looking music player or computer tomorrow. So Apple will require more than just design innovation to get an edge over others.

Rob

People have been pegging the end of Apple forever, and somehow, even with only a 4% share of the computer market, Apple has maintained its customer base and outlived its pundits. If we are to judge the success or failure of any business by the over-reaction to one lawsuit, Microsoft would have been in the ground years ago.

Apple has learned the importance of marrying the aesthetics (the 'cool' factor) with products that work and that people want to own. (IPod is the perfect example). Heck, if they didn't work, do we really think they would be the world's leading MP3 player?

I enjoy it when there seems to be a bandwagon of so-called 'experts' predicting the demise of Apple. And yet, the predicted end never seems to come.

Jake

The real question is not "is Apple loosing its cool?", it's "Why are we still asking if Apple's lost it's cool?"

I remember this with the iMac, OSX, the G4, and the iPod... just to name a few.

As mentioned earlier, so long as Apple has something cool in the breach, I'm sure they'll be just fine. The way they're cranking out cool stuff (the iPod isn't the only thing that have that's smokin cool), I'm not at all worried about some big bust.

Aleah

I believe your suspicions are correct - If Apple is wise, they will tout the smaller products (such as iPod) for the mainstream consumers (i.e. who don't want to break the bank to buy trendy) and continue to pander to the Mac addicts who are willing to spend a lot for their favorite toys.

I don't think they are going the way of Nike with respect to their core offereings. That is, I hope not.

hugh macleod

Oy vey. "Cool" is annoying.

I prefer uncool. What's more uncool than a bespoke Savile Row suit? Nothing. Which is what makes it compelling.

I see Apple going the way of the Nike Swoosh i.e. a scabby little blight on the cultural landscape.

Ward

Cool is important but so is easy and cheap. They need to keep all three going in the coming battle for the home network.

Mark J

Agreed. Apple looks at computing and says "better design enables you to work faster," rather than just giving you the same old computer 10% faster than last month's model with the same buggy software.

Although I agree that the iPod's star rose independent of influence from Apple's name, there has likely been influence going the other way. That is, the popularity of the iPod has made more PC users aware of Apple and their excellent hardware and software capabilities. The one thing that could hold them back is an anti-freedom approach to their business model. Already the copy protections on iTunes files have drawn criticism, and the "iPod only" nature of the service has soured would-be customers. Apple needs to keep that groovy "free-love" Apple vibe going and not turn into stiff corporate "suits" like their competitors as they gain market share on them.

Oliver Thylmann

Very good point. I had the argument with some other people too and there are some other things that play in. What Apple has succeeded in is that nobody really talks about the Mhz of the CPU, or the RAM, ... it's just a feature. A lot more of the decision is taken on the design and ease of use and those are customer needs and wants that somehow remain untouched (as clearly) by other companies. The Mhz race is over and suddenly Apple is ahead of the pack. They need to continue to focus on that and especially the more emotional part of the product mix.

Mike Wagner

I was going to comment on co-creation from an earlier blog of yours. My mind is racing. But the iPod is a bit of cocreation it would seem to me. Computer brands are invisible most of the time. I know if you drive a Ford - I see you in that Mustang! But I don't know what computer you use. The iPod makes the Apple corporate brand visible by creating a self expressing brand experience with their product. You wear it. Of course the ad campaign tells this story instantly; iPod against the outline of the individual. Will this translate branding value to the computer side of the product line? Not sure. But moving into retail like Apple has certainly brings the customer into contact with the bigger Apple brand story beyond the iPod.

Joshua Allen

I suspect that iPod's star is separate from Apple's. People are buying iPod because it's hot, not because it's Apple. And people will buy the next Apple hotness even if iPod has jumped the shark (as long as the new hotness isn't called iPod at that point). Just like Sony with Playstation, Microsoft with Xbox, etc.

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