Soon: iPods For The Poor (12/9/03)
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Okay, so iTunes Music Store sales may be shrinking a bit; don't let it bum you out. Remember, Apple probably loses a little money on every song sale-- it's only peddling tunes in the first place so that it can sell more iPods, which do make money. And get this: according to a new Jupiter Research press release, "U.S. shipments of MP3 players will almost double in 2003 to over 3.5 million, and will continue to grow almost 50% per year for the next three years." Growth of 50% per year? Sweet. Considering that the iPod is already the market leader in both unit sales and revenue, provided Apple doesn't screw it up in some epic and monumental way, it ought to keep bringing in some serious moolah, iTMS performance notwithstanding.

Of course, one surefire way of "screwing up in an epic and monumental way" would be to stand still. The iPod is finally just starting to get a little decent competition, most notably in the form of the Dell Digital Jukebox, which doesn't have half the style or elegance, but it does have three-quarters the cost-- and twice the battery life. With demand for digital players expected to skyrocket over the next few years, it's absolutely crucial that Apple not get complacent about that "number one in market share" thing and sit around daydreaming until that Number One drops to Number Twelve.

The good news here, of course, is that Apple has never stood still with the iPod. The company had improved it (well, mostly improved it) multiple times and in substantial ways long before anyone else had even managed to catch up to the first model, so there's every chance that the iPod will continue to evolve with new innovations that'll continue to keep it at the head of the pack from technological and ease of use standpoints. Of course, even that won't guarantee continued success, since demand continues to grow while the wealth of the population doesn't. Let's face it, most of the people willing to shell out at least $299 for a portable music player probably already have. This increasing demand for MP3 players that Jupiter Research is talking about is going to be showing up among people who just aren't going to want to blow that kind of cash.

So if Apple's going to compete, it probably is going to have to figure out a way to sell at least some iPods at a much lower price. MacRumors recently reported on unconfirmed rumors that a "low-end/cheaper 5 GB iPod" might appear "as early as the November 28th, 2003 In-Store Apple event." Of course, that didn't come to pass... but we've got a strong feeling that a modestly-featured and modestly-priced new entry-level iPod is indeed in the offing. Furthermore, we've got a strong feeling that Apple doesn't want to introduce it until after the holiday buying season, since existing iPods are already selling like disposable razors at the annual Covert Werewolves convention and it'd be just plain dumb to sabotage high-margin sales by shipping a lower-cost option now. But if there's some sort of largish Apple-related trade show or something taking place shortly after the holidays, we've got a strong feeling that it might be a good venue at which to unveil this conjectured low-cost wonder.

Disclaimer: we also had a strong feeling that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever would be box office gold, so don't hold us to anything.


 
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The above scene was taken from the 12/9/03 episode:

December 9, 2003: Goofball analyst Rob Enderle's at it again, this time claiming that Apple's doomed because it doesn't make tablets, PDAs, or cell phones. Meanwhile, the iTunes Music Store has a long way to go before it comes close to overtaking sales of traditional CDs, and even as demand for portable MP3 players gets set to skyrocket, Apple may have a low-cost iPod waiting in the wings...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4379: And They PAY Him For This? (12/9/03)   Great jumpin' lobotomized tree sloths, it's Enderle Time once again! Yes, Enderle Time, that joyous periodic occasion on which we celebrate the latest anti-Apple ramblings to spew forth from analyst Rob Enderle, who at this point is clearly just poking Mac users with sticks in hopes of stirring up a little web traffic-- but hey, since his drivel is so gosh-darn amusing, we see no reason not to give him what he wants...

  • 4380: Someone Get A Slide Rule (12/9/03)   Say, it's been a while since we last checked in with an iTunes Music Store sales update, and that used to be a mainstay in the Apple-flavored melodrama biz, so what say we scope the skinny on the millions tip?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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