iPod Backlash Articles Ignore Why People Buy Portable Media Players

Sep 18th, 2006 | By | Category: Commentary, iPods & Portable Media Players

A growing number of pundits are taking a pessimistic view about the prospects for Apple’s iTunes/iPod platform, suggesting that it’s doomed because of increased competition (such as the Zune), that people are shunning the iTunes store or that iPods just aren’t cool anymore.

In a article in The Observer, David Smith suggests explains Why the iPod is Losing its Cool.

“Sales are declining at an unprecedented rate,” he writes. “Industry experts talk of a ‘backlash’ and of the iPod ‘wilting away before our eyes’. Most disastrously, Apple’s signature pocket device with white earphones may simply have become too common to be cool.”

The BBC suggest that iPod fans are shunning the iTunes store. They point out that the average iPod owner has only purchased 20 tracks from the iTunes store.

At the Loose Wire blog, Jeremy Wagstaff comments on the long slow death of the iPod:

“It makes a lot of sense to listen to music on your phone if your collection is somehow fed to you by your cellphone operator,” writes Wagstaff. “Subscribe to songs and they are on your music phone when and where you need them, and the whole ripping/syncing thing is going to seem pretty antiquated.”

While it’s easy to point out problems with the iPod/iTunes combination, these commentators seem to ignore an important point: most people don’t buy portable media players like the iPod to be cool and most people don’t buy them because they want to buy music online. People buy portable media players to make their existing media portable.

Early on, Apple established iTunes as a way of using your computer to use digital technology to take control of your music.

Apple’s Rip. Mix. Burn. campaign pushed iTunes as a tool for ripping CDs, with the tagline “It’s your music, burn it on a Mac.”

Apple also early on positioned the idea of ripping and remixing with iTunes as an alternative to radio, with ads like Radio Still Sucks:

From the beginning, Apple positioned the iPod as a way to take the music that you rip into iTunes with you:

iPods have been successful largely because the iTunes/iPod combination makes it very easy for people to take their existing music collections and make them portable. For people with large investments in CDs, an iPod is a relatively inexpensive way to add a great deal of value to their music collection.

To compete successfully with Apple’s portable media solution, companies will have to offer something that is as easy as the iTunes/iPod combination. More than anything, though, a true iPod-killer will need to make it very easy to make your existing media portable.

No Responses to “iPod Backlash Articles Ignore Why People Buy Portable Media Players”

  1. Tim Sadler says:

    The gloomdoomers must be overlooking podcasting too. Its the only content I listen to consistently on my iPod. Oh yeah, I have lots of my music library ripped to the iPod and its handy for shutting out the world during a plane ride, but EVERY freaking day, I listen to podcasts while working out; and that’s easy because Apple recognized the nascent market early and made it easy to subscribe.

    …but these gloomdoom articles do make headlines for their authors; I’ll bet some even have podcasts 😉

  2. byronious says:

    The gloomdoomers must be of the mind set that their observations/opinions/preconceived notions will be shared by the majority- iPods are for rocking out…….. DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Cell phone batteries used to multi task for both phone and portable music players will drain and run out of juice to quickly!

    iPod sales might have partially slowed down do to the cumbersome, challeneging and un-user freindly iTunes software software interface. iTunes newbee’s have a challenging time interacting and using iTunes! i think apple should offer a slimed down version called itunes-lite- which features minimal gui! make it simple to use and navagate!

    Another shock headline grabber…. a buch of fluff!

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