Stephen Manes writing at Forbes last week had some excellent points to make about the relative success of both iTunes AND the iPod and how the competition was failing to hurt them.
Also, last week, Creative Technologies announced 1st quarter earnings that were truly bad. (Story from Reuters here). While I couldn't quite understand how lower flash memory prices had actually HURT their profitability, it seemed like they had lots of excuses for losing around $60m on revenues less than $230m. Assuming some of the other Creative businesses are still successful, it is quite amazing to work out what they are losing per music player sold.
So, I think a lot of the reason for the lull in coverage of this area is from those who have been negative towards the iPod phenomenon perhaps deciding to lay low for a while. I was quick to damn the Zen Vision M player announced last December in this post . At that time there had been positive articles in certain places suggesting that there was finally some real competition. I was so disappointed with the Guardian's coverage of it ((and a few other articles too) that I gave up reading the tech section there altogether as part of a NY resolution to focus my reading. Obviously, the consumers haven't agreed with what some of the press had to suggest.
John Gruber at Daring Fireball has noticed the same thing. In this piece he says
"One nice side effect of the continuing growth and success of Apple’s iPod / iTunes / iTMS platform is that we’re no longer subjected to moronic business and tech pundits proclaiming that Apple, despite its initial success, is “making the same mistake with the iPod that they made with the Macintosh in the 1980s.”
In this article, John also links to an article he wrote in 2004 explaining why Apple would not make the (Macintosh) mistake of 1984 with the iPod. Any journalist thinking of writing about the impending failure of the iPod would do well to read that article as well as so much is still relevant and the insights offered 2 years ago have clearly failed to be heeded.
Of course, no sooner had he written his recent piece than he spots an article by a San Francisco Chronicle writer on EXACTLY this subject. His rejection of this again is inspired classic Gruber commentary.
I've no doubt the lull is just that - a lull. They'll be back with their theories when something negative happens. Two obvious triggers for that will be a bad decision for Apple in the Apple Corp vs Apple Computer case and an earnings report showing a drop in iPod sales from the Christmas quarter. (This was always obvious - Apple basically revamped the line for the busiest time of the year, and the growth to 14million units was spectacular; If iPod sales are more than 30% up on the same quarter from a year ago, that should be considered good. But I will nevertheless await the first "iPod sales finally slow" headline.