The Guardian: Steve Jobs needs ‘a charisma download, Apple risks being left behind’

“Apple is losing its hip and unpredictable edge as it risks being left behind by the very technology it helped to proliferate,” Victor Keegan writes for The Guardian.

“It looks as though Steve Jobs, boss of Apple, might need a charisma download after what many people thought was a lacklustre performance – by his own high standards – at the company’s much hyped developers’ jamboree in San Francisco yesterday,” Keegan writes. “Actually, since he had hardly anything new to say, he didn’t make a bad fist off it. What other company announcing a series off minor upgrades to an existing product (the iPod), a film download service with an initial library of only 75 films, plus a new home entertainment product for next year, could have attracted such headlines around the world?”

“Make no mistake, these are going to be difficult times for Apple,” Keegan writes. “The iPod is still a wonderful product and will continue to have a big army of devotees but it has largely saturated the market of people who need 5,000 songs in the palm of their hands.”

MacDailyNews Take: It was a media event, not a “developers’ jamboree.” Now, do you have any proof of iPod market saturation, Mr. Keegan? What, you don’t have anything factual to offer? We do: On May 23rd, Credit Suisse analyst Robert Semple wrote in a report to clients, “We believe Apple is still in the early stages of its product expansion and that the company can grow its iPod units at least 20% for the foreseeable future.” Peter Kang reported for Forbes, “The analyst’s prediction comes from what he sees as the low penetration rate of the iPod, estimated at about 10% of PC users, or an ‘active installed base’ of about 40 million units worldwide. One region looking ripe for growth is Europe, which has an estimated penetration rate of 7.1% compared with 15.5% for the United States, according to Credit Suisse. In addition, customers appear to be replacing their iPods with new models quicker; Semple estimates the current ‘lifecycle’ of the iPod at approximately 1.5 years, down from two years. The Credit Suisse analyst compared the current pace of iPod shipments to that of the Sony Walkman and Discman portable music players. ‘We believe that over time Apple’s iPod can easily exceed Sony’s 309 million cumulative Walkman and Discman shipments,’ he said. ‘For comparison, it took Sony over 10 years to sell 50 million Walkmans, while Apple reached the same milestone in half the time despite lower market share and stiffer competition.'” Full article here.

Keegan continues, “Apple is hoping that downloaded films will take over from music as a big revenue driver. They might but if all that Mr Jobs can rustle up to start off with is less than a hundred films all related to Disney, of which he is the biggest single shareholder…”

MacDailyNews Take: Apple launched TV shows via their iTunes Store with just one network, Disney’s ABC, and only five TV shows. Take a look at how many other networks, cable outlets, and TV shows there are now, less than a year later: 40 networks and 220 shows. Mr. Jobs won’t have to rustle up studios. With history as our guide, the studios will come to him soon enough.

Keegan continues, “Finally, Apple announced a forthcoming device called iTV, available next year, that among other things, will be able to transmit video from a computer to a living room television screen. Leaving aside the question of why we need an extra intermediary to get films to our television sets, the mere fact that he announced it at all, was a sign of weakness. It was done to prevent people buying a rival device from Microsoft.”

MacDailyNews Take: Turnabout is fair play. Microsoft is the King of Vaporware; announcing products just to freeze the market. Unlike many of Microsoft’s products, we bet Apple’s will actually come to market when they say it will, with at least the features they’ve promised. Keegan’s wondering “why we need an extra intermediary to get films to our television sets” shows a startling lack of even rudimentary imagination.

Keegan continues, “The only people who will definitely clean up are the lawyers. Apple’s decision to call its new device iTV may just possibly produce a thundering legal letter from a certain television company in the UK.”

MacDailyNews Take: “iTV” is a code name, not a final product name. This fact was made extremely clear by Steve Jobs during his preview of the device both verbally and in large text on his Keynote slides and in the iTunes 7 press release: iTV is the project’s internal code name and will not be the final product name. As a seeing and/or hearing human being, and certainly as a journalist, Mr Kegel, er… Keegan (what’s the difference, really?) should easily have known this information before writing his piece, but then that wouldn’t have allowed him to take yet another unfounded, baseless swipe at Apple.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: First The Observer this past Sunday and now The Guardian. Is something in the UK water supply lately that’s negatively affecting their tech writers’ cognitive abilities?

Contact info: victor.keegan@guardian.co.uk

Steve Jobs gives sneak peek of Apple’s “iTV” wireless set-top box:

Related articles:
The Telegraph: Steve Jobs’ genius making people desire gadgets for which they have absolutely no use – September 13, 2006
The Observer’s iPod FUD: Apple iPod is ‘wilting away before our eyes’ – September 10, 2006

Mark Cuban: Things that are special about Apple’s announcements – September 13, 2006
Apple’s ‘iTV’ strategy – September 13, 2006
How will Apple’s ‘iTV’ work? – September 13, 2006
Apple eyes living room market with device codenamed ‘iTV’ – September 12, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV model ‘the gold standard for the digital home of the future’ – September 12, 2006
The Motley Fool’s Lomax: Apple news ‘mostly underwhelming, with some potential future bright spots’ – September 12, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV ‘will be hard for other players to match’ – September 12, 2006
Apple gives sneak peek of ‘iTV’ set-top box to debut Q1 2007 (with images) – September 12, 2006
Apple’s QuickTime stream of Steve Jobs special event now live – September 12, 2006
NFL and Apple team up to offer 2006 NFL game highlights via iTunes Store – September 12, 2006

68 Comments

  1. Both newspapers are owned by the same company (the Guardian Media Group). The Guardian is traditionally anti-Apple (at least in my opinion). This is a shame, as it used to be a good newspaper. The crossword is still the best in the UK, IMHO; but if you want an intelligent, well-written newspaper here, you’re off with the Independent. They had much more balanced coverage of the Apple announcements.

  2. Left behind by whom? Of course apple need to continue to improve their offerings but just because each increase isn’t this amazing technical revolution offered at a minimal price, available for immediate sale with a selection of media a mile wide, doesn’t mean to say it isn’t good. Especially when the competition is currently barely worthy of the name.

  3. Mr.Keegan you are blind, deaf, and dumb. You have no clue what Apple is doing or has done apparently. Apple is in the for front of technology beating every PC manufacturer out there hands down. Apple has the best operating system and interface that combines it with it’s hardware. That equals the most easiest to use interface on the planet and makes computing a pleasure instead of a nightmare unlike Windows.
    The iPod and the iTunes Media store is the best in the world and with an 80% market share your comments are rediculous and full of FUD!

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