Are You Sure This Is Apple? (2/1/05)

These days it seems like everyone you see is sporting an iPod of some flavor-- that is, unless you happen to live in Korea, where white earbuds are reportedly about as common as forehead tattoos of the haunting visage of the late great Jim Varney. And we know it seems like we're singling out Korea even though (given the Asian market share numbers that have been kicked around) we're sure there are other technically-developed countries on that continent where iPods are about as popular as suppurating lip sores, but really, it's just because it's the only country that's consistently mentioned in the press as a real iPod dead zone-- and not in the cool Christopher Walken way. So just for giggles, how about we take a quick peek in on one market in which the iPod isn't sitting victorious on a enormous bloody throne lashed together from the bones and entrails of its many competitors?

You may recall that just a couple of months ago, we noted that Apple's stated goal for the iPod in Korea was to work its way up to third place by the end of this year-- which sounds deliriously unambitious to anyone living in a country where Apple chews on two-thirds of the market, but which represents some seriously hard work in Korea where, as we mentioned, the iPod accounts for less than 3 percent of the portable player market. Well, we've got some clarification on that "less than 3 percent" figure: faithful viewer Tuner Equalizer sent us a JoongAng Daily article which indicates that the iPod's share of the Korean market is actually "less than 1 percent."

That puts us in a touchy situation, because while we enjoy many aspects of Korean culture-- the food rocks, Tae Kwon Do is nifty in its way, and some of the horror movies are top notch-- and we certainly would never want to disparage any nation or race for its cultural differences (especially when said nation or race is responsible for producing nearly all of our beloved animated television series-- Go Team Venture!), we find ourselves at a loss as to how to describe any society in which the iPod holds less than 1 percent market share without using the unfortunate phrase "endemic and catastrophically pervasive lack of good taste." So we just won't go there at all and we'll move on to what Apple is actually doing to rectify this terrifying scenario.

In a nutshell, it's waging a price war. Yes, Apple.

In Korea, Apple has reportedly slashed prices of its non-shuffle iPod models by roughly 13 percent as one prong in its year-long strategy to claw its way up into third place; now the 20 GB iPod costs the same as some of its competitors' (admittedly fuller-featured) 5 GB models. And perhaps embarrassed to be resorting to such base measures, apparently Apple reps have "even asked the media to 'keep quiet' about the price cuts." Zowie, iPods with less than 1 percent market share? Apple instigating price wars? No doubt about it, folks: foreign lands don't get much more foreign than this...

SceneLink (5164)
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


The above scene was taken from the 2/1/05 episode:

February 1, 2005: Word has it that Microsoft employees are all about the iPod-- and management is none too thrilled. Meanwhile, availability of iPod shuffles and Mac minis is even worse than we could have possibly imagined, and Apple Korea attempts to bring the iPod above its less-than-1-percent market share by slashing prices and inciting a price war...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 5162: Look Who's Buying What (2/1/05)   Oh, my my my-- how do you solve a problem like Maria? Or slightly more to the point, what do you do if you're the world's most powerful software company desperately trying to unseat your competitor from the digital music catbird seat by forcing your own proprietary music format on everyone through sheer market ooomph, but even your own employees opt for your competitor's tech instead of your own?...

  • 5163: Where Da Tiny Things At? (2/1/05)   So much for things being different this time around, right? We know we've already raised the subject of the iPod shuffle's demand exceeding its supply by insane degrees despite Apple's valiant attempts to avoid repeating last year's iPod mini debacle, but we'd really hoped it was just a launchtime bubble that would flatten out in a week or two...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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