Thursday, February 03, 2005

Is anybody fighting the Big Apple?

I had a heated debate last night with a friend over the whole PC/Mac thing. Basically, we both agreed that Apple gets to many of the new ideas first, and then Microsoft and other PC folks climb aboard afterwards, yada yada. And clearly from Alex's post today, people are pretty passionate over whether or not this means that Macs are indeed superior. I'm sure many of you have had the same debate before so I'll stop retreading it here.

My question is, why aren't the brands that are beginning to compete with the iPod attempting to enter the ring on the promotional front? Apple's greatest strength is in its branding; to hell with who got to the technology first. They're just incredibly good at making you want their shiny thing. So how will iPod's competitors try to beat them out in the marketing game? Has Sony even attempted to make it known that they've released their new line of Walkman, which is pretty neat-looking and comes with lots of things that the iPod doesn't have? Or how about this crazy video-playing doo-dad from iRiver? Why do I have to go googling around for this stuff? Shouldn't this be in magazine ads and on the sides of payphone booths and on the tops of taxis and billboards, etc.?

I just wanna see some not-so-friendly competition, that's all.


christopher said...

I actually see Creative ZEN ads all over the place. And I think Stefan told me that they're pumping tons of dollars into their advertising campagin.

Still, the iPod's just cooler.

Stefan said...

Yeah. There's a $100 million bucks behind the promotion of the Zen as an ipod killer, but it ain't gonna happen because a) the Zen is just NOT as pretty as the ipod, and the ipod, as prestige product, needs to be beat on the design level and b) the ads are BORING. It's just product shots. Basically, all they're saying is "we exist too." But if it doesn't make you feel like you'll be as envied for having a zen as you do for having an ipod, it's not going to work. People get off on feeling like they're futuristic and new. But having a zen will make you look like you're too cheap to get the real thing.

All this said of course by a guy who's first two mp3 jukeboxes were both Creatives. I like Creative. I just wish their ads were, well, more creative.

Alex said...

Jeff has an internet connection in his cave!

There's been an intense amount of marketing on the part of zen, rio, sony, etc, to chip away at the iPod market. There's been tons of subway advertising, billboards, magazines, buses, TV commercials, etc.

This past Christmas, almost every major news organization had a report on "cheaper alternatives to the iPod mini!"

And, they're releasing new players, and better players every day. There's some problems, though:

1) They ignore (and this is David Pogue of the NY Times talking) iPod's function not just as a music player, but as jewelery. With over 10 million sold so far, it doesn't hold as much status anymore, but the fact of the matter is, Apple has better designers. As Stefan likes to say, "Just because you know how to use photoshop doesn't mean you know how to design." Similarly, just because you make a portable Mp3 player doesn't mean it'll actually look cool.

2) The other players aren't as well designed, technically. Apple's Clickwheel is brilliant and intuitive, pretty much after the first time you use it. Other manufacturers have tried to come up with other ways of surfing through their music, but they're clunkier. Much clunkier.

3) iPod has the iTunes store, which links perfectly together. Rio has various stores, but no straightforward programming to import with ease. I've always been against the dumbing down of our computers, but what made me fall in love with Apple products was that they make everything easy to use without treating you like an idiot (talking paper-clip, anyone?). iTunes, and the music store are the same way. That's why there'll be over a billion songs sold in the store by the end of the year.

The reason iPod dominates is they have a better, more attractive product. That's it.

Sony Walkmans are irrelevant, because they're using CDs, which are on their way out.

iRiver video player doesn't matter, because it hardly works properly.

The next generation of products WILL be a challenge to iPod, but not this one.

Alex said...

Also, just to clear this up: that article I posted below is a joke. A well done joke, but a joke nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

The clickwheel is a HUGE advantage.

This generation's iPod competition worthy of more advertising dollars - Video GoodnessI'd get an iPod in a second if the sound quality was better. Alternately I may just be crazy since almost everyone else doesn't seem to mind the sound quality.

That IRiver product doesn't impress me as much as the Archos AV420 or the stupidly expensive but mind-blowing PMA400. Also I hear Archos' break sometimes.

Jeff said...

Greetings from my apparent cave.

I've read the articles too. I'm not saying I'm unaware that are products out there or in development. I'm just wondering what they're going to try to do to actually have an effect on the market. I'd love to see the competition heat up already, so that prices will drop into my range, and so that sound quality will improve enough to make me want to ever buy one.

Also, the new Sony Walkman is not a CD player. Here.

mjs said...

time out has an article on this very subject - i was reading it on my way to work this morning. according to them, if are an athlete, you want an iPod shuffle - it's durable and light. if you're tech-savy, you want an archos gmini - you can create playlists on the fly and display album covers on its lcd screen, but it's not as intuitive as an iPod. if you're an executive, you want an iRiver h10 - it only runs on windows, has a vertical touch pad, displays .txt docs and has a voice recorder. if you're a technophobe, you want a zen micro - it's totally user friendly, and has a swappable battery. if you're an aesthete, you want an olympus m:robe - it's the "sexy supermodel", with "surprisingly crisp sound". if you're a traveler, you want to philips pss110 - it's got built in speakers, an alarm clock and an FM tuner. if you're a shutterbug, you want a benq joybee - it also only works with windows, has an SD slot, and a 5GB hard drive.
this is obviously not the entire article - it won't be available online until next week - but this blog isn't the only place people are concerned about the iPod innundation.


Alex said...

By "concerned," do you mean "delighted?"

mjs said...

by "concerned" i mean "screw you, alex".

Anonymous said...


Alex said...

By "screw you alex" do you mean "this relationship is over?"

Anonymous said...

and by "geeks" i mean "this is Dusty...and i KNOW geeks"

mjs said...

by "By 'screw you alex' do you mean 'This relationship is over?'" do you mean you love me?

Alex said...

I can't believe we broke up on a blog!

Jeff said...

thanks, marni!

the olympus site says that they'll be unveiling some new ads during "the big game." my question is answered!

alright, iPod, here comes the... m:robe. dammit. why can't they think of cooler names? and why the hell must everyone begin the name of their life-changing project with a letter that's not attached to a word? and don't they know that people are gonna realize they're just trying to sound like Apple's product, which makes them look lame? to make any impact in this industry, they're going to have to clearly state that their product is the ONLY one worthy of purchase. they shouldn't be making references to their competition's product in their fricking names. grah. apple wins again and the battle hasn't even begun.

(somewhere in the East Village, Alex holds a little victory party for himself and all his Apple gear. the world prepares for a neverending stream of Apple-loving blog posts.)

Alex said...

Oh, who am I kiddding... Anonymous revealed himself to be Dusty, I can't be in a bad mood. Marni, let's get back together! I'm going to buy you an iPod (shuffle)!

mjs said...

i prefer to think of myself as an executive, and would therefore prefer an iRiver H10. thank you, though. i'm glad we've gotten over that rough patch.

and screw you, dusty.

christopher said...

This thread has been an adorable emotional rollercoaster.

Anonymous said...

i'd go as far as to call it a tsunami of emotions. what? too soon?


Anonymous said...

this is how microsoft and google take over the world by 2014: