13 April 2006

All quiet on the iPod front

It's been a bit dull in the music player world lately. A couple of stories perhaps pinpoint why.

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.


Charles said...

"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."

Wow. In my book that counts as a supreme piece of cutting-off-nose-to-spite-face. You disagree with one hardware review, and so the whole section is off limits? That's.. astonishing.

So what do you read instead?

Ian Hobson said...

Heh, nothing personal, Charles (making a guess at which Charles it might be!).

As I pointed out, I needed to cut back on my reading which had got out of hand. I was not learning anything from the wisdom that goes by the name of Jack Schofield. I understand where the Guardian's technology coverage is aimed, and it is not aimed at me. It was not just one article that led to this decision - I was learning nothing I didn't already know from what was generally a weekly update, and I disagreed with several takes (and voiced my opinions on some). I don't feel that I want to cause my nervous system to erupt over what in essence are trivial issues in the global scheme of things (my problem, I know).

My RSS subscriptions list is very long and includes many things other than just technology (or even just iPods and macs in case you were wondering). I find the most informed articles come from places like the Ars publications (and discussions - some of the time). I've also referred in my blog to others that do quality in-depth reviews such as anandtech. Links from these also lead to other things to read. On the mac side particularly, I find DaringFireball to be the most spot-on Apple commentator. By the time I've covered the FT and the main digital Grauniad (with both on subscriptions), I've got a living to make too. The blogging is a hobby, and will remain at that.

In order to do all these things, something had to give. Sure, it is one less input but I think I get more stimulus (and challenging views) from the other sources I subscribe to.