Apple’s taken iPod+iTunes to an entirely different level; iPhone will be like supertrain

“In the longstanding tradition of the Mac, Apple has done an absolutely brilliant job demystifying what is otherwise a complex technical process [with iPod+iTunes]. It is only in recent years that some of the competing products have managed to catch up to the usability of the iTunes/iPod duo. But, by the time they did, it was basically too late. Apple controls 70 percent of the portable digital audio player market and, in the US, 88 percent of sales of downloadable music. Not only that, Apple has successfully bridged a usability story into a fashion story which has taken the attraction to the iPod to an entirely different level that no other technology vendor will be able to duplicate,” David Berlind blogs for ZDNet.

Berlind writes, “Recently, at Gartner Symposium, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked about Microsoft’s stick-to-it-iveness with the message that once his company commits, it has the resources to keep at it until it wins. Only, in the portable digital audio space, the company didn’t stick to it. Instead, after it’s PlaysForSure ecosystem barely made a dent in Apple’s momentum, it went back to square one with a brand called Zune that, except for a few minor details, will pretty much mirror Apple’s strategy (where the content comes from the same source as the hardware does). When Microsoft about faces, this is a sign that Apple is in charge.”

Berlind writes, “And just when all of Apple’s competitors are turning to plan B, and just when a few cell phone vendors are getting hip to the idea of including iPod-like functionality in a mobile phone (something that no smartphone maker has quite figured out how to do very gracefully), Apple is about to swoop in and show them all how its done because you know that Steve Jobs would never let an iPhone see the light of day unless it’s absolutely perfect. Nokia, Ericcson, Sony, Samsung, Motorola and the rest of the lot of them (as well as Microsoft and the other portable audio manufacturers) will be left so stunned by Apple’s entry into the market that it will feel as though a supertrain with a wild party on it just left the train station while they were left standing on the platform say ‘But,…but…'”

Berlind writes, “Here’s a good question. With Apple Mac sales going up (on the coattails of iPod sales), what happens when Apple decides not to make a Windows version of iTunes?”

More in the full article, including Berlind’s prediction that eventually some government somewhere will force Apple’s hand under antitrust law and how Apple will profit immensely regardless here.
This is an excellent article — even if the concept of Apple pulling the Windows version of iTunes is way out there — that’s full of interesting points and ideas; highly recommended.

Related articles:
RUMOR: Apple iPhone features leaked – October 19, 2006
Zune: Apple cannot lose. Microsoft cannot win. – July 26, 2006

More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Tower Records liquidated – October 09, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Dell’s ‘DJ Ditty’ flash-based MP3 player is dead – August 22, 2006
More blood on Apple iTunes Music Store’s play button: MyCokeMusic is dead – June 20, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver gives up on digital media player market – May 23, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Sony’s Walkman Bean is cooked – February 13, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Dell dumps ‘DJ’ hard-drive MP3 player line – February 04, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver pulling out of Europe? – February 01, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Thomson gives up on MP3 player, CE markets – December 12, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: BenQ withdraws from MP3 player markets – November 28, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Olympus halts production of portable digital music players – November 09, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Rio is dead – August 26, 2005
Apple’s iPod has blood on its Click Wheel: Virgin Electronics is dead – March 08, 2005
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has blood on its play button: is dead – March 28, 2004


  1. Guess I ought to address the article, huh.

    MS and others are going to be playing nothing but a game of catch-up. Mr. Ballmer thinks the Zune is gonna be the hippest thing in music since the guitar pick, and Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ives are already working on projects for five years down the road.

    Good luck, Mr. Monkey Boy!

  2. And so in about March of 2007 Apple publishes the following statement:

    “We regret to inform our Windows iTunes customers that despite concentrated efforts Vista is so unstable and problematic that we just can’t get iTunes and iPods to work with it reliably. Please be patient. We’re working on it. We might have something for you in a year or two.”

  3. Arnold Ziffel: It’s Jonathan IVE – note the lack of the “S” at the end!

    AS for iPods driving Mac sales, thats a big maybe. Like Micro$ofts mi$$teps, or Dell’s crappy product and service, etc. had nothing to do with it?

  4. Isn’t it funny that Apple’s now one of those third party developers Monkey Boy was going ape over in his infamous speech? What would happen if they withdrew support for iTunes? Frankly I think it’d be a disaster since a lot of Windows users would see it as another excuse to hate Apple.

  5. Talking about the halo effect is far too simplistic.

    Apple has an approach that is whole. The iPod selling more Macs is far too simplistic.

    – The iPod introduces millions to Apple’s engineering (mechanical and software) prowess, and design interface mastery. This results in an acceptance to Apple, and can move some to buy Mac’s. The “iPod Halo Effect” in full.

    – Apple launches it’s own stores, delivering top cabin service, and environment conducive to selling Macs in a low-pressure approach. Windows folks who stumble into the stores (for iPod or just being curious) start to become comfortable with Apple, learn more over time, and buy Macs.

    – Apple moves to Intel processors, and launches Boot Camp allowing Windows to run natively on Mac-Intel hardware. Virtual Windows OS options become available. The acceptance of Intel moves the Mac brand from creative to mainstream. Apple sells more Macs.

    – Apple delivers agressive PC vs. Mac ad campaigns, consumers check out the Macs. Apple sells more Macs.

    iTunes, iPod, retail locations, OS X, Intel, iTV, HDTV’s w/iTV built-in, iPhones, it all builds engergy around itself and in the end, increases Mac sales, which increases the Mac OS X install base.

  6. The idea of Apple pulling iTunes for Windows is totally ludicrous & bordering on complete insanity. The only reason iPod+iTunes is such a hug phenomenon is *BECAUSE* of the fact that they work with Windows. If Apple were to leave the Windows market, it would only open up the door for Zune or some other competitor to sweep the Windows market. This guy doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

  7. Dumb – most sales of iPods are to Windows owners. iPods make Apple more money than it´s computers. Microsoft and every other company would love it if Apple cut support for Window´s computers. The iPod would totally stagnate and die away.

    Apple would need a computer market share near 50% before thinking of something like this.

  8. I agree that MAc sales being lifted solely by iPod is far too simplistic. As you say there are a combination of factors at work.

    Apple: Think Different ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    Microsoft: Think Worse ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool grin” style=”border:0;” />

  9. “will be left so stunned by Apple’s entry into the market that it will feel as though a supertrain with a wild party on it just left the train station while they were left standing on the platform “

    Kinda like that German MagLev train, Everybody thinks maglev’s great technology but nobody uses it because it’s not as practical as the alternatives. The sample train kept endlessly going over the same small piece of ground trying to convince people that the technology was viable and eventually crashed killing a lot of the people on board.

    Good Analogy

  10. “Apple would need a computer market share near 50% before thinking of something like this.”

    Even then Apple probably doesn’t want to throw away 50% of it’s iPod sales.

    And why stop supporting a little used OS?
    After all, today Apple bothers to produce iTunes for a little used OS called Mac OS X which has about 2.8% market share.

  11. “Steven – Apple’s Approach is Synergistic”

    I agree, but may I expand as I believe is more than engineering involved here.

    Apple is building up what the accountants call ‘goodwill’. Currently Apple sales and share price reflect only the engineering and ‘bricks and mortar’ value – goodwill is only seen in the Mac fanboys’ loyalty and so is always underestimated. With brand loyalty moving beyond the Mac to the iPod, iTV and hopefully iPhone, Apple’s valuation and sales will begin to reflect the goodwill held by these new markets.

    Now that MS, Dell, Sony and HP are throwing away their goodwill, there is a vacuum in the consumer market who want a goodwill company to purchase from. If Apple don’t muck it up, they can provide this goodwill. Let me explain:

    Many consumers who are not technically literate listen for the goodwill expressed by their friends or colleagues. It is the ‘No one got fired for buying IBM’ mentality that helps ignorant IT Managers choose systems. If Apple can deliver the ‘No one gets disappointed for choosing Apple’ mentality to the market, their goodwill will explode in the consumer market, and remember it was the consumer market that enentually forced IT strongholds to allow PCs into the corporations – they didn’t want PCs to begin with.

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