Apple Runs Out Of Ideas, Exclusively Courts Existing Fancy Pants Customers
POSTED ON 2/28/2006 | PERMALINK |4 Comments | BOOKMARK
Today's rollout: $100 ipod case. $350 iPod boombox. Updated Mac Mini that costs more and ships with insufficient system memory and zero video memory.

Apple is stuck in an environment they've created for themselves. This environment can only thrive if they come out with amazing new products every 15 minutes. They dropped the ball today. Big time.

I feel very sorry for people with a need for $99 iPod cases. I shed a tear for people who will pay $350 for a giant clock radio just because Steve Jobs made it shiny and white. And, the Mini, well...Steve-O needs to come out with something between an $800 laptop sans monitor, a fancified TV-Set, and a $2000 dual-core air conditioner. If he does, I'll buy it. Until then, people like me are going to grow increasingly weary of Mr. Jobs deciding what we want, instead of following the rest of the industry--hell, all industries--and letting us choose.

But then again, the "switch" campaign ended a long time ago. Apple doesn't seem terribly interested in getting my business, anyway. And that's fine. Steve Jobs has done a remarkable job of going against the grain. He's the G.W. Bush of computers. There's a whole lot of secrecy, "trust me"s and a genuine lack of interest in what anyone else thinks. It shouldn't work, but it does. But, as has been the case with President Chimpy, his style will ultimately backfire. Anything as popular as Apple/iPod will suffer from a backlash. Often, these backlashes are driven by no specific incident. But a $100 iPod case is just begging for it. And not even the iBook G4 12" (which is an excellent machine at an appropriate price) can save them from it.

And that's not to say that Apple's demise is imminent. Apple users are very devoted, and Jobs couldn't care less about being the dominant player. He loves being a boutique. He doesn't care how many people out there would be willing to pay a reasonable price for a reasonable computer. Remember, this is a man who wanted to ship the original Mac without a keyboard and who cared more about shipping the Cube than about shipping a machine that wasn't in danger of cracking...or melting. He keeps positioning the Mini as a machine for those of us looking to replace what we already have, but there's nothing in the Apple lineup that resembles what I'm looking to replace. Steve does what he wants, and it works for a lot of people. But it's time for the rest of us to stop waiting for him to come around.

I'll keep trying to get OSx86 running on my WinTel machine, though. And if I succeed, I'll be
happy to send Steve a check for the full retail price.

Update: Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Update 2: Someone dug up this very recent writeup from, bashing Intel's integrated video. It's particularly delicious that this comes from the old Mac Mini page:
Or one 3D game. Go ahead, just try to play Halo on a budget PC. Most say they’re good for 2D games only. That’s because an “integrated Intel graphics” chip steals power from the CPU and siphons off memory from system-level RAM. You’d have to buy an extra card to get the graphics performance of Mac mini, and some cheaper PCs don’t even have an open slot to let you add one.

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Blogger Shiggy said...

Call me an Apple apologist, or whatever. But I fail to see what's wrong with Jobs' strategy. Granted, the masses want Apple to come out with life changing, different-thinking products each week, but that's not going to always be the case.

Today Apple came out with a branded product that allows their iPod to be played as a stereo. How different is that than Sony coming out with a new surround-sound system for their flat screen tv? Or Toyota coming out with a new set of foglamps for your 4Runner?

I'm under the impression you're mad at Apple for going with Intel chips. Personally, if they had to make that switch I would have been behind AMD.

What do you think Apple owes YOU? What would you say (civilly, not like your rant) to Steve Jobs if he were standing right next to you in a black turtleneck and black jeans? As a loyal customer, if you have something to say, they're generally good listeners there in Cupertino.

Tue Feb 28, 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Mortensen said...

while this was a big rant, i'm not mad at apple. they can do as they please.

i'm glad they went with intel. good move. i'm annoyed that while every other computer company increases power while reducing price, apple cranked up the price of the mac mini.

i'm offended that they had the nerve to roll out $99 ipod cases. that suggests that they're a bit delusional.

and the $350 boombox is WAY overpriced, and the *very* limited specs on the apple page suggest that it's not quite so hifi. seems like a bose ripoff, but for even more $$ than bose charges.

my point in all this is that steve jobs has backed apple into a corner, and now they're announcing ipod cases. it's just silly. look at the stock price drop today.

steve's strategy is at odds with the industry. and that's fine. apple does GREAT business. but apple's model almost NEVER least not for long.

jobs can do whatever he wants. he's not catering to people like me, which makes me sad...but that's ok. but i think his model is unsustainable.

if i met him today, i'd be impressed. i think he's a visionary, *maybe* even an artist (business art?). but running purely on ideals ultimately doesn't run a computer company any better than it runs a country.

now THAT'S a rant!

Tue Feb 28, 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Shiggy said...

steve's strategy is at odds with the industry. and that's fine. apple does GREAT business. but apple's model almost NEVER least not for long.

I take major issue with this comment. Not because I've never heard it before, but Apple is not "The Industry" as it is generally construed.

"The Industry" thinks most people want to buy new computers every four years. "The Industry" thinks that everyone is going to want the latest version of every software application and acquire it legally. "The Industry" thinks that Windows ME was a good idea. Apple is trying to be a technology company, not a computer company.

Sure, we all love Apple for their iThings. But design is the big part of it. Nobody wants to buy a BLAND computer every four years, but if Apple remakes the iMac like Ford remakes the Mustang, people are going to want the new model. Give customers a REASON to buy. And buy computers that will always work with the software provided. This model is sustainable,

As far as the comment on being delusional, although I might agree with you in theory, people seem to **WANT** Apple-branded thingamabobs. And are willing to pay a premium. In much the same way people want designer clothing, or Lexi (is that the plural for the car), people will spend the cash on the 'delusional' products. I personally could find a lot of better things to spend my $100 on. But to each their own.

Say what you will about Apple, but I would bet that Steve Jobs would be more than annoyed at your comparing him to our esteemed Commander-In-Chief because Jobs has the capacity to "Think Different" and Bush doesn't have the capacity to think much at all.


Thu Mar 02, 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Mortensen said...

i'm apparently coming across as more of an apple-hater than i really am. my point isn't so much that jobs is wronb, as it is that he's going against the grain (you seem to agree with me on that). my argument is that this could all backfire on him.

i totally get apple. i get that design is important and unique products, rather than computers, are their focus. and that's very smart. i just wish they would make something for me. i'd be happy to pay for a model that's somewhere between the mini and the imac, but apple has fazed these systems out over the years.

as i said, they fazed out the switch campaign. and they fazed out the machines that people like me would switch to.

Thu Mar 02, 11:32:00 AM  

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