Photos for all

What's up with the new iPod model structure?

We live in an odd society where anything or anyone who is successful gets knocked down and casually vilified as a matter of course. And when there is no real reason or justification for the pot shots, people fell obligated to make shit up. Case in point - the iPod. First we had Microsoft issuing a buying guide that essentially amounted to "you should purchase anything but an iPod" ... this despite the fact that The Great Evil of Redmond doesn't even sell a digital music player. Now we have another round of sniping and nay-saying, this time from the dreaded General Internet Community, regarding the simplification of the iPod line and the "elimination" of the iPod Photo.

This latest batch of grumbles and gripes comes in two flavours: The uninformed, and the bizarre. The uninformed view is that the iPod Photo was such a spectacular failure that Apple is now retreating with its corporate tail between its legs, and the whole iPod sales structure is in shambles. This is verging on moronic. If anyone were to take an actual look at the new iPod model structure, they would see that all of the full-sized iPods are now what used to be the "photo" models. The only changes are in name (since all 'Pods do photos now, there is no point differentiating them any longer) and in price - the former iPod photo is now priced where the previous generation of 'Pods used to be.

The bizarre (and, not coincidentally, even more uninformed) view is a spectacularly bizarre bit of logic. The "news" making the rounds is that since the price of photo-capable iPods has dropped, it means that Hewlett-Packard is now making the iPod for Apple. This amazing revelation just happens to ignore the fact that (a) the HP-branded iPods are made by Apple in the first place, (b) the HP 'Pods cost more than the same models from Apple, and (c) HP doesn't have a photo model. Well, not yet, anyway ... since there are no more non-photo 'Pods, you can expect that Hewlett-Packard's lineup will be revamped to include photo models soon. Despite all this, people who are otherwise more-or-less functional members of society will pass along this "news" with breathless excitement.

Sheesh. Get a grip, people. The reason that the iPod photo is now the same cost as the previous "base" model is because the price to make the damn things has dropped that drastically. Dropping the "photo" designation at that point makes sense for two reasons. One, the simplification of the product line fits in with Steve Jobs' philosophy of eliminating potential buyer hesitation based on confusion or indecision. Much like the severe and simple differentiation of the Apple computer line, the "streamlined" iPod lineup makes it very easy to figure out what you want. You have the Shuffle, the Mini, and the regular ol' iPod, and given your budget and usage need, it is insanely simple to figure out which one you want. And two, the "photo" designation was not really a selling point - people were paying the premium for the photo models not for the ability to store images and video, but rather for the lovely 60GB of storage space. As personal digital music libraries get bigger and bigger, the 20 and 40GB models are starting to become cramped. With bigger and bigger appetites for library space, it becomes more and more important to present your "basic" model as being up to the task.

So sit back, ignore the idiots, and revel in the fact that (despite the wankers who wish it were otherwise) the best music player just gets better and better.

Rock on.

Posted: Thu - July 14, 2005 at 03:21 AM