Why is iPod doing for Apple what the Mac couldn’t?

“Some pooh-poohed the assorted colors of Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod mini as frivolous, but the digital music players are a smash hit and have become fashion accessories in and of themselves. Beyond being just a nifty way to listen to music while riding on a bus or working out at the gym, the iPod mini’s eye-pleasing design in five metallic colors has made it a reflection of the user’s personality, analysts said,” Duncan Martell reports for Reuters.

“‘They are a point of differentiation for the individual and they’re almost a status symbol,’ said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies. ‘Because of the colors and its small size, it really is an expression of personality.’ Phil Leigh, an analyst at Inside Digital Media, says: ‘Even though those white ear buds aren’t really that great, people want to wear them with an iPod so others know that they’re carrying an iPod,'” Martell reports.

“And while the larger, white iPods that are about the size of a deck of playing cards have been a huge success, it’s the smaller business-card-sized iPod mini that has resonated with the digerati and could spawn design innovation in other compact digital music players, analysts said,” Martell reports. “‘We can only hope,’ Bajarin said. ‘I would hope that Apple’s innovation in industrial design spills out to the rest of the industry.’

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Why are the Mac and Mac OS X not recognized by analysts as innovations that they would hope would spill out into the rest of the personal computer industry? Why is the iPod achieving for Apple what the Mac can’t seem to do? Perhaps because the general public has not been shown effectively by Apple what Mac OS X is and what it can do? Hopefully, the iPod’s halo effect will open more eyes to Apple quality and lead people to consider buying a Mac for their next computer. If Wintellites like their Apple iPods so much, they’d absolutely love Apple’s Macintosh computers running Mac OS X. Unfortunately, Apple is treating Mac OS X as some huge secret for some unknown reason. Will Windows computer users/iPod owners make the leap on their own without Apple giving them a push to Mac OS X?


  1. When was the last time you saw a TV Ad advertising the various solutions available on OS X and a Mac? Apple Retail stores are divided up into solution centers. It works. And, Apple needs to advertise how well the digital liestyle integrates with OS X. It burns me whenever I see a HP comercial showing how easy it is to connect a digital camera to an HP notebook. Hello Apple!

  2. The reason the iPod is so much more successful (in terms of market penetration) than Macs are is that people tend to buy what they’re familiar with. With respect to MP3players, they’re not familiar with anything, so they’ll look at all the options, and Apple has done a good job of developing a product that competes well in that market. With respect to computers, almost everyone *has* a wintel machine (and most have a sizeable investment in software that runs on that platform), and they well therefore consider only wintel machines when they’re shopping for a new computer.

    I suspect there aren’t that many people who have comparable MP3 players who ‘switched’ to an iPod. Getting people to switch from a wintel computer to a Mac will require more than just having marginally better hardware, a kick-ass OS and great software. It’s going to take brilliant marketing. The switch campaign was a good try, but it doesn’t appear to have worked very well. As much as I hate to admit it, I think they should spend some of that 4 billion they’ve got in the bank on a marketing blitz to coincide with the release of the G5 laptops. In general, I like Apple’s low-profile marketing, and their focus on just developing insanely-great products that sell themselves, but to get some of the vast herd of wintel-using sheep to consider the Mac (and enormous numbers of them would find current Macs much better computing platforms than the systems they’re used to), Apple is going to have to overcome some serious mental inertia.


  3. If Apple’s like BMW, then the iPod is like the MINI. Selling MINI’s hasn’t helped sell more BMWs, but it has helped make BMW some more money.

  4. Posted this already but this thread is more appropriate: Concerning switching, people face a psycological problem common to a variety of similar issues.
    Some of “us” have invested a lot of effort in learning about and struggling with the steaming heap of dung that is Windows in all its flavors, and I think that it can be very hard to accept that such a huge amount of suffering was almost completely pointless and avoidable … so “we” hold on to the belief that Windows is essential, in order to keep the illusion that our suffering has brought us to some position worth being in, so that we can maintain “our” sanity. In the meantime “we” drive others insane by forcing them to share “our” continued suffering.

    This does not and has not happened with a music player: if it was bad you put it in a drawer and forget about the all issue because you’ll listen to the music otherwise.

  5. Nothing even comparable: the Mini sells because it is a BMW. If it was a Peugeot it would not sell.

    The iPod does not sell because it is Apple. Some has to look twice and realize it is not a brand by itself: “wow, Apple does that?”

  6. The mini sells because hairdressers make enough money to buy them and because retro is in. Same for the Beetle. If it was a Pug, it would sell. Maybe not in the US, but in Europe it would. In the UK, it sells despite being a BMW. Many who would drive a Mini wouldn’t dream of driving a brash cock of a BMW. They betray the ethos of the original cars.

  7. Perhaps Apple is holding back on advertising the Mac until it feels it has a compelling case that Wintel users/Wintel IT would appreciate? For substantial switching, Mac desktops need to be competitive on price (Mac servers and latops already seem to be), the lower-end models need to be competitive on speed/bus (except for dual G5s, they’re often not), and there needs to be a headless low-price model. Only THEN will Wintel users even listen to arguments re quality, experience, security, etc. I switched from Wintel to my PB for the security, the software, and the portability of the 17″ notebook, but I am not typical of Wintel users. For example, I don’t care about minor speed differences since all I really do is work with text, spreadsheets, iLife, and surf the web (though MS Word on the Mac is, annoyingly, MUCH slower, probably due to the software). Apple absolutely CAN do what is necessary. Maybe they don’t want to waste money until they have the pieces in place–my sense is the speed issue will be addressed by G5 gains over the next year.

  8. Man, I didn’t know that minis were made by BMW. I just figured a Brit car maker had finally done something right. Silly me. Now I know, mini driver = more money than brains. I just suspected it in the past.

    And, can I get an editor? “Why are the Mac and Mac OS X not recognized as innovations by analysts that they would hope spilled out into the rest of the personal computer industry?”

    Perhaps because MDN and apple share copy checkers? I dunno.

  9. Did anyone else find that Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings) was incredibly powerful in the prepared video during the last major Steve keynote, when he was describing iPhoto passionately and wide-eyed? It was all genuine, too. Maybe if Apple created a few OS X commercials with that sort of thing, along with a few other celebrity endorsements and accolades from people with high credibility they could make a little more headway with this largely undiscovered gem. I’ve always considered the majority of the consuming public to be sheep; they either do what everyone else is doing, or they need to be lead by celebrities or the superficial heroes in their lives to try something new.

  10. ipod is a fad and apple is not being able to take advantage of it because of lack of products. competition is bringing out new products – may not be as good- but one non-puchase of a mini ipod because of no pods available is bad news

  11. I think it was seeing iTunes on a Mac that drove iPod sales to Windoze users, then the iPod itself. And before these came the collections of mp3 files accummulated during the Napster era. My guess is that the latter inspired Stevie to make insanely great products.

    I’d trade my bimmer for a Mini, but I need that 5th seat. Anyway, the MX5 drives better’n both.

  12. Reason Number One and Two as to why iPods sell like crazy and iMacs don’t.:

    1.) If you wore your computer as a keyfob, more iMacs would be sold. Especially when the first ‘candy colored’ iMacs were announced. No one at school, work, or the gym KNOWS you have an iMac. So you get no ‘instant cool’ factor from it. If you bought a BMW but everyone SAW a Chevy instead BMW would sell a lot fewer cars.

    2.) Money… someone else brought this up.. Anything under $500 is an impulse buy for a lot of people. Especially if its a video or audio product. Almost everyone can splurge on in iPod. It’s a cheap luxury. iMacs are over $1000. More than a grand is a psychological barrier, even if the iMac has more value. This is a factor I’m not sure that Jobs or Apple understands. Probably because he is rich and doesn’t worry about a few hundred bucks. I have male friends my age who have had computers for over a decade, Wintel computers. They don’t have firewire, and are not sure what it is. The fact that an iMac has that and many other things built-in doesn’t cut any ice with them.

    They look at the megahertz and the price. If it’s over a grand it’s a hard sell. They don’t look at iPhoto, iMovie, the ports, the ease of use, the FABULOUS OS X.. these are not considered. Unless of course they SWITCH and then rave about it, when they get it.

    If Apple kept the quality, but stripped out a lot of these values (free software) and offered an iMac at under a grand I think it would make a difference.
    Then offer the same iMac with these features over a grand. Believe me, they will walk into an Apple Store thinking they are going to buy the UNDER a grand model, and walk out with the more expensive one.


  13. Apple should do more advertising showing PC users all the things they can do so simply on an Apple with included software that even if they are able to do them on a PC will be very complicated to do and often involve purchasing more software to be able to do so. A quick demo so to speak that showed things like:

    1. downloading digital photos to iPhoto and editing them
    2. downloading content from a digital movie camera and editing it
    3. purchasing songs with ITMS and putting them on an ipod
    4. Pop up blocking and spam filtering
    5. Expose’

    The digital photo element is key I think. This is an incredible growth area in the PC industry and many potential first time digital camera purchasers are frightened off because they don’t think they will be able to understand the complicated process. I set my mother up on an eMac and showed her how just hooking up the camera autolaunches iPhoto and there is just one button to push to download the pics and she is now fully confident she can perform this operation ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> (She is 77 years old by the way)

    Apple commericals are great and artistic but I think even just a few “nuts and bolts” examples would sway a lot of customers to the Mac platform.

  14. The cool video with Elijah Wood that “ed” was referring to is located at http://www.apple.com/ilife/video/

    I made a demo CD that I give to friends that don’t know anything about the Mac. On it, I have this video, the OS X demo video ( http://www.apple.com/macosx/video/ ) as well as the latest PC versions of QuickTime and iTunes for them. I also have a folder of previous Apple commercials… most are still very relevant today.

    You can talk and talk and talk all you want about Macs, but nothing hits them as hard as these videos.

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