Apple launches all new iPods. Reduces iPhone rates!

9 09 2007

My feature predictions came true! The new iPod Touch from Apple now features the revolutionary touch interface of the iPhone and it also features wifi. The iTunes music store is now wifi enabled so users can purchase music directly on their iPods… thus bypassing the computer. Sweeeeet 🙂 The iPod touch is even slimmer than the iPhone and includes Safari for full web browsing. Prices are $299 for the 8GB model and $399 for the 16GB one.

ipod family
The iPod Nano and an iPod classic were also launched but not much to report there besides upgraded specs, sizes and prices. Who would want to go click-wheel when the Touch option is there. 🙂

The biggest surprise of the Apple event was Steve reducing the rates of the 8GB iPhone by $200! It now retails for $399.. right in time for the holidays. This price cut could well make the iPhone the holiday best seller this year. Although current iPhone users were irked with the massive price cut just weeks after they stood in line and splurged on the handset. Poor things.

Good Ol’ Stevo came to the rescue of his faithful customers and handed out $100 rebate coupons. How nice. I don’t see the real need for Apple giving in to price cuts so soon. The whole point of technology is that gadgets get cheaper and have double the features in less than a year. Some analysts are guessing that Apple did this to make sure they’re on track for the target sales figures. With a major price cut, volumes should make up for it long term. By the way, the iPhone is on track to ship the millionth unit by this month.

All in all, I’m dying for the iPod touch to come to India reaaaaal soon. I want one now! Greater chances of that coming here before the iPhone does.

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Apple all set to launch new iPods today! So will you buy the new iPod or go for the iPhone?

5 09 2007

ipod family

Apple is all set to launch new iPods today. You might think that after the runaway success of the iPhone, why would Apple be interested in the iPod platform anyway? After all, wasn’t the iPhone touted as the best iPod yet? The UI was way slicker than a hardware click wheel AND it’s a phone too.

My view is that this is a very smart move. What would make the new iPods worthwhile of a launch? For one, there are still millions of users who would prefer to stick with their current phone and network and yet be able to have the new UI experience on their iPods. The unique UI and navigation style of the iPhone is a sales magnet. Combine that with the cult status of the iPod and you’re golden.

Most users are still content with carrying two devices – a phone and an iPod. Simply because battery life issues wont haunt them. If I listen to hundreds of songs and watch video on the iPhone daily, how much juice is left for 3 hours of talk time on a daily basis? Keeping the multimedia companion separate as an Ipod solves this vital problem.

Another feature that might be a reality today is Wi-Fi iPods. Allowing users to download content from the iTunes store directly would be an excellent step forward. Since the Microsoft Zune already has wireless digital music capabilities, this seems like a feature Apple wouldn’t want to ignore anymore.

Low pricing for an all new UI experience seems possible going by Apple’s history. They typically launch updated and fresh products at the same rates or even lower ones. So we might see a sub $200 iPod featuring the radical iPhone UI and bumped up hardware specs.

Frankly, the ultimate thing would be if Apple launches an iPod with ALL the features and usability of an iPhone with just the phone module missing. So with wifi, we could see youtube, google maps, browse the web, download and purchase digital music and video, store hours of content and still have a very small form factor besides having great battery life. Phew!

All in all, I do see a lot of possibility in keeping the iPod platform alive and fresh with new announcements despite having the iPhone in the same stable. Let’s wait and watch!





Amazon to sell DRM-free MP3s. Will it make a dent in iTunes sales??

4 09 2007

Amazon LogoYou read that right. Amazon.com – the giant (we’re not just books anymore) web store announced earlier this year that it’s going sell DRM-free MP3s. What that essentially means is that you can I can ‘legally’ burn CDs with the purchased music. We can copy and listen to the music across multiple computers/devices be it Desktops, laptops, iPods etc (provided the devices all belong the same user). Amazon’s music catalog will include music from EMI as well as from 12,000 independent music companies.

What’s not clear is the pricing model as yet. Some industry insiders are speculating that they might have a variable price-point model. Users can vote for the price on a song and then settle on a bid. I’m not sure whether this is the best idea to start with since people have different views on creative content like songs. You and I will have different opinions on whether a particular song is worth a dollar or more or less.

What will work is a flat fee system like iTunes. Maybe even go the Apple route and charge a flat 99c per song. Apple currently charges a flat 99c for all songs in the iTunes store but they’re all DRM bound. Currently, if you want to purchase DRM free music from Apple iTunes, you have to pay a premium of $1.29 per song. Read the official press release. *

If amazon can set a very aggressive pricing system of 99c (or less) across the board for all DRM free music, they might be able to make a dent in iTunes sales within a year. Apple does have the head start however. It recently announced the crossing of the 3 billion song mark on iTunes! Plus, Apple is a brand which is intrinsically connected with digital music thanks to iMacs, iTunes and of course iPods. Make no mistake…. it was digital music which resurrected the mac in the late 90s. The iPod saved the entire computer company as a whole.

And for my money, I feel iTunes certainly offers the slickest way to buy and enjoy digital music today. It’s integrated iTunes software (browsing, shopping, jukebox) keeps getting better and more solid with every version.

Amazon needs to create a cracker of a shopping experience and set “easy on the pocket” prices for it’s DRM-free music. THEN, the battle will truly begin. Whatever happens, we consumers will anyway have more choice so that’s always a good thing!