To all iPod users – Your overpriced walkman sucks

Brand: A brand is something that takes your attention away from the the value proposition of the product.

The iPod is unquestionably the best brand in terms of the definition above. It has only one plus to its credit, that it rescued Apple from being sidelined for another decade.

The hype created by Apple has made the white headphones so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even have a snob value anymore.

One of our profs told us that the first Walkman used to cost $199. Now the Walkman has become the walkman and costs $5.

When I saw this, I realized that the end of the iPod era was near…

Yes. That is Queen Elizabeth, all 80 years of her, dancing away to the iPod.

And, I happened to listen to one of the Shuffles the other day and didnt find any difference whatsoever between a Chinese model I have and the oh-so-sexy iPod. The Shuffle is supposed to have better audio quality than any of the other iPods. I can imagine what the others sound like.

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15 Responses to To all iPod users – Your overpriced walkman sucks

  1. Metlin says:

    Ummm, I own an iPod and an iPod Shuffle – and the reason is far from brand name. If you are breaking down the success of iPods to merely a brand name, you’re mistaken.

    For one, all of Apple’s products are extremely usable (and this is coming from someone who works on HCI), and the iPods are no exception. They’re extremely intuitive and simple, yet stylish. And of course, they’ve the UI patented, so no other music player is gonna be as usable/intuitive to use, unless of course someone comes up with a better UI.

    Simplicity works – and for some odd reason, nobody seems to get it. Google got it, Apple got it – and they’re successful. Minimalist design is your friend.

    And then comes the thing with iTunes – Apple was not merely trying to sell a music player – they were selling a music player and a service – iTunes is one of the most integral part of the experience, and has contributed significantly to Apple’s success. I know folks with a Creative Zen player who like it, but only after they spent $25 to get decent synch software for it, and it STILL is a pain to use on the move.

    And I think that you’re confusing style and reliability with brandname. I might like a usable, reliable and stylish new product from a manufacturer I can trust (I mean, why should I spend money on a Chinese player when it might just conk out in a week and I’d not know what to do?) – I know people who’ve owned lots of cheap Taiwanese players and they conk out a LOT. Like it or not, Apple did some serious QA on the iPod.

    Apple also realized early-on that style is an extremely important factor – people go for good looking clothes, cellphones and so on – why not music players, as well?

    Moreover, use an iPod and show me an original MP3 player that is as usable, as rugged, as reliable and as stylish. The iPods were conceptually the pioneers in that market, and when they started out, it took them 18 months to sell a million units.

    Rather than find reasons, if you looked deeply, you’d find that Apple’s success lies in coming out with concepts and products in a unique way that draws people to them.

    Yeah, Apple doesn’t give amazing bang for buck if you’re looking for a jukebox, but for people looking to play stuff without hassle, it’s very good. Prices will fall (already the new Creatives are far more usable) but they still suffer from poorer software and occasional Windows Media DRM glitches. Apple by controlling every aspect of the player is simply able to deliver a better user experience.

    And oh, one last thing – I do not use my iPod and iPod Shuffle just for music – I carry around data and do all kinds of other stuff with it. Hence, for me, data reliability is a big plus. No El Cheapo Chinese player is going to guarantee me that.

  2. Madhu says:

    Acho! “Andha pazham pulikum!!”… ever heard of the old fable abt the fox and the sour grapes? Now, why am I being reminded of that…. hmmmm…

  3. Tamizhan says:

    Wow. You gotta give it to Apple. Creating a brand that generates so much emotions is very difficult. Hats off Apple.

    Now, Point # 1. I agree that minimalist design works and is one of Apple’s design strengths. But it is not original Apple. Two lawsuits are pending on this issue. One case by an independent designer and the other by Creative, Apple’s arch rival.

    Point # 2. Synch software is for zombies. I work on a iBook and know how simple it is to connect a removable drive and transfer data on MacOS and Windows as well.

    Point # 3. Please spare me the conking out stories. I have beat up my Transcend, Made In China player a lot and it still works. It is now 18 months old. I have seen iPod batteries conk out in less than half that time. Oh and then guess what, you gotta buy a new battery from Apple.

    Point # 3. Sorry but i dont use iTMS. It doesnt have the songs from Sindhu Bhairavi.

    Point # 4. Style is about perception. It is very subjective and whole industries thrive on this subjectivity – Fashion for instance. If your friends say your belt is very stylish, then to you it is stylish, no matter what your grandma says. And how do your friends think the belt is stylish? They saw a movie in which the hero was wearing the same brand of belt. the belt is not a belt. It is perceived as something more. And the perception can be created, easily. Ever seen the episode on Non-fat yogurt on Seinfeld?

    Point # 5. The ‘Apple can do no wrong’ is not helping. As a hardcore user of an iBook, I can see a lot of places where corners have been cut and quality has not been the focus. My college has 48 iBooks and around 50 Dell Latitudes. There have been more issues on the iBooks. So, please remove the halo around the Apple and take an objective look at what you are getting for your money.

    Point # 6. ‘Apple’s success lies in coming out with concepts and products in a unique way that draws people to them’. Ok, now which success are we talking about? Their 2% share of the personal computer market?

    I can tell you exactly where their success lies. Easy to use software running on standard hardware. the software is built on Unix, so it is more reliable and stable than anything else out there. It still crashes (especially iDVD and iMovie) but handles graphics well. oh wait the graphics engine is based on another company’s concepts, namely PDF. So the strong graphics oriented OS attracts hardcore graphics designers and animators. Thats where Apple’s success lies as of now.

    The iPod is a singularly successful product which has produced a halo effect which lends itself to any product that Apple releases nowadays. Have to remind you, the Mac Mini hasnt really caught on.

    So there you have it. Your turn πŸ˜‰

  4. Metlin says:

    Umm, truth be told – I’m not even a regular Apple user, except for the iPods. In fact, I shy away from using any other Apple produts, so your fanboy statement is quite moot. And neither are we talking about Apple’s other products cutting corners – we’re specifically talking about the iPod and its variants.

    #1. The Romans had minimalist design, that means nothing. All that matters is that in this particular area, Apple has done a good job of having a minimalist design.

    #2. Synch software is usable – period. I’m not trying to prove my uber geekiness by having to do a complex set of tasks – there are far better things I could do to prove that. I want to be able to have the software do that.

    PS – that was such an elitist statement that you put forward, right there.

    #3a. Yours might be the exception, not the rule. I know several people who had Muvo which have stopped working a week later. There’s an Mp3 player at every Walmart or thrift store out here that is cheap and is Made in China, it’ll be a miracle if those last for more than 6 months (and yes, I’ve owned one – it lasted for 4 whole months before sputtering to death).

    #3b. The percentage of people who listen to Sindhu Bhairavi on their iPod is way small for Apple to even care – the majority of their customer base is from the Western world, and there are probably more users that listen to even Tim McGraw than Sindhu Bhairavi.

    #4. Of course style is about perception – but it is also largely universal. You’d be hard pressed to find a human being in the civilized world who does not share some element of commonality with you on what style is good. Good usable style is harder to find than you think – show me the UI and style of an existing music player (your Chinese player, for example) and I’ll tell you both quantitatively and qualitatively why an Apple iPod would kick it in the pants in style and usability.

    #6.Ok, now which success are we talking about? Their 2% share of the personal computer market?

    No – their 75% share in mp3/music players, which in electronics is unheard of.

    And the reason why Apple has a lower share in the computer market is an altogether different discussion, one that is not pertinent to the topic at hand.

    Some of your arguments are fundamentally flawed – Apple does not use “standard” hardware, that would be the PC. Apple is successful because it caters to a niche market where users prefer the hardware and the software to be perfectly compatible (like you said, the designer folks) and made by a single manufacturer. And their OS being based on BSD came about just recently – that in no way has any bearing on their earlier successes.

    You’re mistaking what Apple aims to do – they are not trying to put a computer on every desktop. They’re trying to cater to a niche market and stick to that niche market. Sure, they’d like to expand a little and make some money (and they have done so, sometimes at the expense of their existing customers), but that has largely become secondary to their core market practices.

    The Halo of Apple? Funny thing – people have been saying that about every Apple product. From the Macintosh, Newton, iMacs, iBooks an Powerbooks, people have said that something or the other has been saving Apple and is making people buy their products. And of course, now the iPod.

    Incidentally, you’ve missed out another area that Apple is kicking ass – displays. Apple Cinema Displays are one of the top products sold by Apple, and funny how most people do not even realize that.

    PS – as far as I know, the Mac Minis are doing quite well in the US. In fact, I was thinking of getting one myself.

  5. Madhu says:

    ahem… ahem…. may I come in?

  6. Siva says:

    Hey, did u know that iPods contribute to ‘making’ people turn deaf ??

    Check this out…

    http://www.defeatingdeafness.org/'ipods+can+make+you+deaf'+page2716.html

  7. Hi sudarshan,
    I think the best brands through out the world are the simplest in terms of their design. Take SONY for eg ….the first thing tht is striking abt it is its simplicity(outside), but it is strongest at heart. Similarly i think apple products attract ppl for its sheer simplicity in usage with the best technology around. Sharing my personal experience, I always tot windows media player was very efficient compared to ITUNES, but now that i own an Ibook, i have realized tht ITUNES is much better. Using window based laptops are a real pain, because they take a lot of time to start, moving files takes a hell lot of time etc etc. I guess i have already started taking apple’s efficiency for granted. When considering products like iPods, mobiles and laptops, a small improved feature makes a hell lot of difference.

  8. well…i agree that Ipod is only ad hype. Maybe theyve won on the design category…but the sound quality on a SOny Network walkman is amazing. And for metlins info, even Ipod is made in China.

    Go for sony because the battery ‘really’ last long. Go for a creative Zen playe for its functinality. Go for ipod if you want to show off.

  9. Tamizhan says:

    Back from Pondy! I gave time a break…had an awesome time…Details later…

    @ GP, thanks for your support. But i have some issues with the Sony players as well. They dont use mp3, the syncing software totally sucks and there is no other method to transfer songs. We’ll reserve that for another post.

    @ Madhu, no you may not come in! Seriousa pesindrukkom, ipdi comedy panna nalla illai.

    @ Metlin, Apple does use standard hardware my friend. From the Samsung NAND memory chips in iPods to the Matshita DVD writer I find both on my iBook and the Dell Latitudes on campus.

    I am not mistaking what Apple aims to do. Apple does try to do several things. But what they are essentially doing is reacting to customers. Thats what strategy is about. Planning a course of action and being ready to take another course if market realities demand it. Oh, and Apple has 92% of the mp3 player market

    http://news.com.com/Its+all+about+the+iPod/2100-1041_3-5406519.html

    You misunderstood my point about Sidhu Bhairavi. It is about the milions of artists out there who are not in iTMS.

    so there.

  10. If I may just butt in at this point – I hate iPods. Period. Waste of money I call em (and yes, I sometimes do think that might be because of the sour-grapes factor, but let’s assume I have some valid reasons).

    However they do have that undeniable Oh-they’re-so-cool-I’d-kill-to-have-one-of-them charm, which, is the first thing that turns me, in particular, off. I’d rather be in that so-called niche market using some obscure player, not available to the rest of the market because I was clever enough to actually spot the thing when it was in its infancy and recognized it for its great qualities. The iPod wouldn’t go into that category at all. Their marketing strategy had all the subtleties of Laloo making a political statement.

    Let the iPod users use them and pat themselves on the back for doing so. Let us, the rest of us I mean, get on with our lives, knowing we missed the fad bus, and hope that buying the Nintendo Controller and being satisfied. Don’t forget to check out the comic for that date. Sums everything up I suppose.

    Some people like em, some people don’t. It’s like George Bush. Some people are in denial about him, the rest hate him to death (awesome jab @met, if I may say so myself).

    Let’s stop the discussion here before Chris Rock gets into the picture and starts talking about WHY Apple’s designed the player in White. Kanye West couldn’t be far behind too. πŸ˜›

  11. Metlin says:

    Ghost Particle: Errr, that Made-in-China was a figure of speech, not a literal statement. Of course I know they are made in China, duh.

    Tamizhan: I was talking about standards purely from an architecture perspective of their computing platforms, i.e. their not using the IBM PC architecture.

    Of course they are reacting to customers, my friend! Else they’d have been out of business long ‘ere you could say jump.

    And I had said 75% as a conservative estimate, wasn’t sure of the exact numbers – thank you for more-ammo ^W^W the new information! πŸ˜‰

    And yes, I got what you mentioned about Sindhu Bhairavi – my point again is that if they are not on iTMS, it is not a large enough market for Apple to care, especially when they are making millions through the rest anyway.

    PS – you still haven’t said anything to counter my statement on why Apple iPods rock.

    Dr. Almonds – Man, as much as I like the iPods, comparing them to Bush is an insult to Bush! What’re you, some sort liberal hippie?! Geez. Next thing you know, the man would start singing praises of Clinton or any of the Dem. retards.

    *shakes head*

    “Dubya is mah homie, and we likes it!”

  12. Metlin says:

    And oh, Dr. Almonds – every iPod comes in two colors – one that’s white and one that used to be white. πŸ˜‰

  13. Madhu says:

    waaaahhhh… me’s deeply hurt…

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