The Wall Street Journal’s Mossberg: ‘iPod mini a gorgeous device, a winner’

“For about a week, my assistant Katie Boehret and I have been testing the iPod Mini. Katie has been toting a pink model everywhere — while walking, riding the D.C. subway and flying. I’ve been using a gold one and a blue one in the house, car and office. We both like these gadgets a lot. In our tests, they exceeded Apple’s claims for both battery life and storage capacity,” Walt Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“The iPod Mini is a gorgeous device that displays Apple’s famous touch for people-pleasing design. At only half an inch thick, and about the length and width of a business card, it feels great in the hand and slips into even a small pocket or purse. It is the first iPod that naturally belongs on an armband for exercising, and Apple will sell such a band as an option,” Mossberg reports. “The Mini is clad in anodized aluminum, and feels cool to the touch. The aluminum finish makes the colors pop, and look different in the flesh than in pictures. They are more like metallic pastels than the saturated shades they resemble in Apple’s ads.”

“The Mini has the same audio circuitry as the larger models. In our tests, sound quality was excellent,” Mossberg reports. “Like the original iPod in 2001, the iPod Mini actually exceeded Apple’s claims in our tests on two key issues: battery life and song capacity. Apple is claiming a battery life of eight hours for the Mini. To test this claim, Katie and I ran three battery tests. In one, the results were just shy of Apple’s claim, at seven hours and 46 minutes. But in the other two tests, with two different iPods, the Mini lasted nine hours and 15 minutes, and a whopping 10 hours and 40 minutes.”

Mossberg reports, “…the latest version of iTunes even senses if you have a Mini, and if your song collection exceeds its capacity, the software can optionally auto-choose a selection of songs that will fit. It builds this selection, in part, based on which songs you’ve played most often or most recently, and which you’ve rated highest in iTunes. Like the larger iPods, the Mini can also display your calendar and contact information and notes, and it comes with a few games. You can also use it to store and transfer data files.”

“The biggest downside to the Mini is price. While Apple deserves some premium for style and design, the price of $249 is a little too high when compared with the prices of larger models. This includes Apple’s own base-model larger iPod at $299, which can hold 3,700 songs. And Dell offers a 3,700-song player for the same price as the Mini. I think the iPod Mini really belongs at $199, not $249… Apple’s iPod Mini is a winner, but would be a true home run at $50 less,” Mossberg reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Walt makes what is becoming an all-too-common mistake regarding iPod mini’s pricing – he’s comparing it to Apple’s own product, the iPod. Compare it to competitors, Walt, and the iPod mini is a bargain. Do you think Apple really cares if you decide to buy an iPod over an iPod mini? Of course not! The money is still Apple’s. And isn’t that the whole idea? The iPod mini makes the iPod look cheaper and entices buyers to step up to iPod. In this case, Apple’s pricing strategy is brilliant.


  1. i have a 40 gig iPod and i only have close to 2,000 songs…. i haven’t even listened to half of those 2,000 songs…. i wish i got the mini… not only because of the price but because of the longer battery life…. plus the fact that i can still have 1,000,000 songs on my mac if ever i had them and still download the top 3,700 ones for today, and the next 3,700 songs tomorrow….

    comparing apples to apples, the mini still wins out ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> (not too hot about the pink one, though)

  2. pricing is a strategy…at $199 Apple would cannibalize the sales of the other IPOD’s because it is so significantly less expensive and 4 gigs is plenty for most people. At $249 they still offer decent value in the marketplace and cannibalization is less of a factor. It’s brilliant. Will you see a $199 mini, yes, and you will see the prices of the larger IPOD line drop correspondingly.

  3. “Walt makes what is becoming an all-too-common mistake regarding iPod mini’s pricing – he’s comparing it to Apple’s own product, the iPod.”

    And the mistake Apple, along with most other people, made is thinking that people would compare the iPod mini with flash players. The NATURAL comparison is with the normal iPod.

    1) Go to iPod mini webpage and check out specs.
    2) Go to online Apple Store to check price.
    3) Notice the normal iPod and decide to check price.
    4) Notice that you get roughly 4x the storage for $50 more.
    5) You don’t care because you want the smaller one for size reasons and have the cash to throw around or you think the iPod mini is overpriced.

    That, to me, seems like the logical progression for most people. The only way the mini looks like a good deal is if it were in a store player line-up set next to other high-end flash players. Inevitably, though, it will be placed next to a normal iPod… Anyhow. I’m not saying it isn’t a good deal when you look at the figures for high-end flash players. I just think it’s a joke to expect people to NOT compare it against the normal iPod.

  4. Joel makes good points, but if you take it one step further, it makes sense:

    6) You go to other web site to get a “cheaper” flash based unit and find that the prices on those are not better than the iPod Mini.
    7) You now realize that the iPod Mini is actually priced pretty well
    8) You buy the iPod Mini
    9) You love that iPod Mini!! All is good!!!

  5. The big issue is that it’s SMALLER, only 59% of the volume and 64% of the weight. To me this is a big deal, after I held the 20gig and 40 gig iPod together, I wanted the 20gig since it was just a bit smaller.

  6. Why would anyone compare it to a flash player when they could compare it to the number one, most popular, coolest, best-selling player of all time? *Every* music player gets compared with the iPod. *All* of them. Of course the mini will be compared with the iPod, too.

    We will soon see if the pricing was set wisely. Setting it too cheap and then not being able to meet demand is not wise.

  7. I think Steve missed an important target market.
    The low end iPod and the mini are too close together in price. Apple says that most of the iPods they sell are the larger ones. Good, stop selling the 15G pods, sell the large disk iPods to those who want massive storage, sell the mini at $249 to those who just want some comfortable storage, but sell a flash based (iTunes compatible) player at $160. This then hits all 3 portable player demographics. They would have to cut their margins to do the flash players but it would provide a market to all users via iTunes. This is necessary to truely own the market (flash based is still 1/3 of the users but a smaller part of the $$). How many flash players are now iTunes compatible? Those with them or in the market for them are barred from using iTunes. It is the users they must draw, not just the $$ they represent that is important.

  8. I think the pricing is brilliant. It’s just low enough to be a better deal than high-end flash players. So if you were considering one of them, you’d opt for the iPod Mini instead. Of course, once that decision is made, many people will shell out the extra fifty clams to get a bigger iPod. Many will not. Apple probably doesn’t really care one way or the other, as long as your money is green.


  9. There is a huge constraint problem associated with the hard disk in the mini. It doesn’t make sense for Apple to take hundreds of thousands of orders at $200 knowing only a limited number can be made until the beginning of Summer at the earliest – nothing like pissing off a huge number of customers with a 4 to 6 month wait.

    It makes more sense to get 15GB iPods into the hands of people (with some trading up) and only those who are willing to pay for style going after the 4GB

    Remember that the 5GB iPod started at $399 and stayed there for about 6 months.

    simple supply and demand and Apple has it figured out

  10. The Hitachi 4gb Micro-Drive used in the Mini is selling on Digital camera sites for over $400.00 by ITSELF! Retail is 600 bucks!

    FYI: The Mini is ranked in the top 100 best selling products at The 15 gig iPOD is somewhere in the mid 8000 range of sales ranking. So much for that tired argument eh?

    There are fortunately a lot more people out there who GET IT than those who completely miss the point of this cool product.

    Only a few more days to go before we receive our two Minis! Can’t wait! :o)

  11. What’s betting that Apple’s margins on the 15GB iPod are larger? Just think about it. Those miniature drives in the mini are really new and bloody expensive. Heck, those who go for the bigger numbers instead of form factor (ie, the geeks) are probably giving apple MORE profit!

    Of course, the age old argument I’ve mentioned before is still true. the iPods are CE devices! People don’t compare specs like they do with computers! Style and form factor play a much greater role! And I will continue to use exclamation marks until people get that inside their skulls!!!!

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