When you look at Apple’s “i” product line, you see success. The iBook is a runaway best seller because it is a tremendous piece of hardware that can be purchased for less that $1,400. iMovie, iTunes, and iDVD all represent innovation and affordability. And let’s not forget the mother of all iWare, the iMac that you can buy brand new today for $799.
But the iPod breaks rank with this tradition of reasonably priced Apple iWare. That doesn’t mean it’s not an appealing device. The iPod is close to irresistible.
I have a similar gizmo right now in my briefcase — a 6 GB VST portable FireWire hard drive, and I love it. It’s bus-powered like the iPod, and it copies files faster than lightening strikes, just like the iPod. I paid $399 for it a while back, and the 10GB models are currently selling for $279.
Yes, I know that the iPod is much more than a 5 GB FireWire drive; it’s an extreamly cool MP3 player that can hold more than 1,000 songs running off a 10-hour rechargeable battery and incorporating 20 minutes (not seconds) of skip protection. Plus it looks great, really great.
The problem is that it should be $299. That’s the magic number right now. Top of the line MP3 players run between $249 and $299. Portable FireWire drives are priced about the same. Even 1.3 megapixel digital cameras by the likes of Olympus and Sony can be purchased for $299 or less.
We all know that it’s not what the item cost to make. It’s what people will pay. And this holiday season they will pay up to $299.
If Apple is determined to get $399 for the first release of this device (R&D is expensive afterall), then they should have coated it in pure Titanium and dubbed it the “TiPod” — just like they did with their top of the line PowerBook. Then, at MacWorld SF in January 2002, they could release the real iPod in an ice-colored polycarbonate enclousure for $199. They would sell thousands of them right there at the show.
After giving today’s iPod announcement careful consideration, I’m left with one lingering question: “Where the heck are the branding and marketing experts when you really need them?”
What do you think? Am I missing something here or should the iPod be the TiPod?