Why, lookee here-- BBC News is reporting that iPods are so popular in the UK that "demand is certainly outstripping supply" and stores are "selling them almost as fast as they come in." For anyone who still doesn't get why Apple is waiting until after the holiday shopping season to introduce new lower-cost iPods, we've officially done all we can to help you, short of beating you about the head and shoulders with two sticks on which we've written the words "SUPPLY" and "DEMAND." We're game if you are, but we don't make house calls, so you'll have to come out here for that. And bring your own sticks.
Of course, there's still no guarantee that Apple really is planning on introducing $100 miniPods at Macworld Expo, but word of the rumors has now trickled as far downstream as a Reuters report, albeit one that cites Think Secret and (gag) Rob Enderle as sources. For those of you jonesing for an Enderlism, this one might tide you over: speaking about "lower-end iPods which are expected to carry a price tag of about $100 and will hold 400 to 800 songs," he says that "odds are it's a flash-memory-based player, something to position Apple against the low-cost offerings from Creative and Rio." Now, we're not saying that he's definitely wrong, here, but 400 songs is 2 GB of storage, and right now the absolute cheapest price we see on 2 GB of flash RAM is $181. That's retail, mind you, but even if Apple gets a really good OEM deal, we just can't see 2 GB of flash RAM going into a $100 miniPod. But hey, he's the analyst. We're just here to look pretty.
(By the way, Apple's higher-end $199-ish miniPod is said to be a 4 GB device. Not that Apple would have to use a single module, mind you, but we found it interesting that 4 GB of flash RAM costs about $1200. And at four times the cost, it holds only 60% less than a $300 iPod! Such a deal!)
Still, that's not even the crux of the Reuters thing. It seems that all those high-falutin' analysts out there ("Enderles! Enderles everywhere!") feel that what Steve "needs" to do come January 6th is explain why the heck Macs don't come with remote controls and let you watch TV on them out of the box. "One of the things we'll be looking for," says analyst Time Bajarin, "is how does Steve embellish on and extend the Mac into the living room, because Microsoft is already there with the Media Center PC." And you know what? Those analysts are right! Why, if we can't record and watch "Gilligan's Island" on our next Mac without expending the ridiculous amount of effort it takes to buy and plug in an EyeTV, we're just going to buy a Dell, consarn it, and we know for a fact that 98% of Mac users feel the same!
Ooooh, sarcasm. On Christmas Eve. Santa will not be pleased. Seriously, though, we're just not convinced that Windows has a massive technical advantage in the consumer market just because you can buy Wintels with TV tuners and remote controls. When we want to watch TV, we generally want to watch TV. On the couch. With that big screen and a bag of Baked Lays or something. Sure, there are exceptions; it's nice to be able to take recorded shows on the road on a PowerBook or whatever, but it just doesn't seem to us that people in general are really that thrilled about watching TV on their computers-- or, for that matter, hooking their computers up to their TVs just to watch Media Center-recorded shows in comfort. Maybe it's just us, but TiVo seems like a much better way to go about this sort of thing.
Note that we're not saying that Apple won't do this sort of stuff; it's perfectly aligned with the whole "digital hub" strategy, after all, and we've already seen compelling evidence that future iPods will gain video capabilities. Indeed, if Apple and TiVo announced that the Home Media Option 2.0 will allow Macs to transfer TiVo shows over a home network and burn them to VCD or DVD and/or sync them with a 4G video iPod, we'll probably sprain a grin ligament or three. It just irks us when these analysts all band together and say "Apple must do Thing X or the company will surely falter." We remember when Thing X was PDAs; we doubt many of them will still insist that Apple will go out of business if it doesn't rush out a handheld and join Palm at the bottom of the stock barrel. Occasionally Thing X is switching to Intel chips; Enderle, in particular, was beating that drum just a little over a year ago, insisting that Apple would be forced to scrap the PowerPC and ship Pentiums before the end of 2003. Yeah, that's going to happen any day now.
Yes, we're crotchety. Even at Christmas. It's sort of our trademark.
So if Steve does in fact announce that Macs and iPods will soon gain all sorts of TV-type features, fantastic, great, we're all for it, rah rah rah, go team. But if he doesn't, don't go leaping off any cliffs, okay? Show a little faith in Steve. He was right about PDAs, after all. And we're naturally leery of anything those analysts say that Apple "has to do."