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Old 09-10-2006, 04:51 PM   #1
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Why the iPod is losing its cool

Why the iPod is losing its cool


Apple has added ever more extras to its digital music-player in a bid to stem falling sales. But fears are rising that the device is now too common to be cutting edge

The Mermaid, Puddle Dock, is not the first place you might go in search of the cool and cutting edge. That will not stop an expectant crowd gathering at the conference centre in London's Blackfriars this week for a live satellite broadcast from San Francisco that could make or break one of the consumer icons of the Western world.
The iPod, the digital music player beloved of everyone from Coldplay's Chris Martin to President George Bush, is in danger of losing its sheen. Sales are declining at an unprecedented rate. Industry experts talk of a 'backlash' and of the iPod 'wilting away before our eyes'. Most disastrously, Apple's signature pocket device with white earphones may simply have become too common to be cool.

On Tuesday the eyes of iPod-lovers the world over will be on Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, when he seeks to allay fears that it could follow Sony's tape-playing Walkman into the recycling bin of history.

Jobs is widely expected to announce the most ambitious iPod service yet - the sale of feature-length films via the internet for viewing on the devices, which may receive an expanded 'widescreen' and improved storage capacity. If downloading movies from a computer to an iPod proves even half as revolutionary as it did for music, the multibillion-pound DVD industry could be quaking. There are rumours that Jobs will also announce a long expected 'iPhone', combining the music function and sleek style of an iPod with a mobile phone.

Industry-watchers warn that the iPod could soon be regarded by teenage cynics as their 'parents' player' because a mass-market product rarely equates with edgy fashionability. Although it has sold nearly 60 million actual iPods and a billion downloaded songs worldwide, cracks have begun to appear in the edifice. The Zandl Group, a New York-based trends forecaster which regularly interviews a panel of 3,000 consumers aged 25-35, recently picked up its first significant criticisms. 'The iPod is far and away the most popular tech gadget with our panellists - however, for the first time we are hearing negative feedback about the iPod from some panellists,' said the organisation's spokeswoman, Carla Avruch. 'Panellists cite that the batteries are not replaceable, so when they die the entire player must be replaced,' she said. 'We have heard from some conspiracy theorists that the batteries are made to die soon after the warranty ends.

'Other complaints are that iTunes [Apple's online music store] is overpriced and the format is not easily transferred on to other players. In our ethnography interviews, some long-time iPod-users told us that they have stopped updating their iPods because it's too much work, while other consumers who had bought iPods more recently had not even taken theirs out of the package to set it up.'

She added that the iPod is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success: 'Some backlash is against the ubiquity of the iPod - everyone has those white headphones on the train.'

Analysts warn that the iPod has passed its peak. From its launch five years ago its sales graph showed a consistent upward curve, culminating in a period around last Christmas that saw a record 14 million sold. But sales fell to 8.5 million in the following quarter, and down to 8.1 million in the most recent three-month period. Wall Street is reportedly starting to worry that the bubble will burst.

Tomi Ahonen, a technology brand expert and author, said: 'For the first time the iPod has had two consecutive falls after 17 quarters of growth. If I were the manager, I would be wanting my people to explain what is going on. The iPod is wilting away before our eyes.'

He cited new mobile phones with improved MP3 players as the cause of the iPod's dwindling appeal. 'In 2005 all the big phone manufacturers released phones that play music. Phones are outselling dedicated MP3 players by six to one. Apple had the market for MP3, but they lost it.'

Ahonen, author of Communities Dominate Brands, predicted that in the long term the iPod will have only a narrow audience. 'It will continue to dominate a niche at the top end: if you're a musician or a DJ you'll use it because it's the best, like a photographer with his Nikon camera. But the average mobile phone user gets a new handset every 18 months, and a quarter of mobile phones sold this year will have an MP3 player. In the same way as camera phones have pushed cameras to one side, this is an automatic replacement.'

Apple is famously tight-lipped about plans, but its invitations to Tuesday's event show an Apple logo in front of crossed searchlights and the slogan 'It's Showtime'. Sources in Hollywood, where Jobs sits on the board of Walt Disney, suggest Apple has been trying to secure deals to sell films through iTunes for around £8 each. Apple added video downloads of television shows such as Lost and sporting events to its iTunes service last October.

The company is facing growing competition on every front. Last week Amazon launched a digital TV and film download service in the US, and the supermarket giant Wal-Mart is in talks with Hollywood studios about a similar website. Later this year a new online music store, SpiralFrog, will undercut iTunes by offering a huge catalogue of music for free while relying on advertising for its income. MySpace, the immensely popular social networking site, also poses a threat.

Three out of every four MP3 players sold are iPods, but the device could be challenged later this year by Zune, the contender from Microsoft, whose billionaire founder Bill Gates is not used to losing. Samsung is also betting heavily on its new K5, which has the option of built-in loudspeakers.

But commentators argue that the iPod's status as a 21st-century fashion symbol is assured. Leander Kahney, author of The Cult of Mac, said: 'I thought they would become passé last year but they haven't, and I don't see much sign that they will."

James Beechinor-Collins, editor-in-chief of T3 consumer gadgets magazine, added: 'It's cool across the board: everyone from my seven-year-old niece to my 60-year-old uncle has one. But as the leader Apple needs to keep innovating, not resting on its laurels. We haven't seen a new product for a year, so Tuesday's announcement had better be bloody good.'

So what do you think will happen?

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Old 09-10-2006, 04:58 PM   #2
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I hope we go back to the CD. I love the CD.

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Old 09-10-2006, 07:07 PM   #3
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Do these MP3 playing phones have miniplug jacks?

I'll need to hook it up to the car stereo or home stereo.

How many songs can I carry on my phone?


What's the battery life like on a MP3 playing phone?

It can't be great, as it'll be doing double time. I would hate to grab my phone in order to make a call, and see the battery is dead from playing music all afternoon.

Why don't the make an electric shaver with a built in MP3 player?

Crock Pot?


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Old 09-10-2006, 07:09 PM   #4
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Originally posted by phillyfan26
I hope we go back to the CD. I love the CD.
I love getting all the album art and everything with it. I miss that, downloading sucks! I want my cd player back!
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:39 PM   #5
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maybe sales are declining because everybody already has one?

and they said sales took a sharp drop after Christmas season, well duhhhhh, everything takes a big drop after xmas
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:59 PM   #6
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^ hahah that's exactly what i was going to say. how can they expect to keep selling if everyone and their moms already has one? (well, except for me....i think i'm an endangered species). i've been looking for an mp3 player, but can't seem to fall for the iPod. even though the U2 iPod is mighty tempting just because it's U2, i'd still like an mp3 player that's more compatible, that can do voice recording and also has FM tuner built in, without buying expensive iPod accesories. i think the iPod is too complicated in the fact that if you want more than just music, you have to pay for it with 3049859045 accessories that are quite expensive themselves.
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:03 PM   #7
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Wait until Tuesday when they begin to roll out their digital downloads of feature films....followed in January by the new full screen horizontal iPod.


And I wouldn't discount Steve Jobs...he's the most innovative CEO out there.

Apple = cool.

Though I do admit that I am digging my new Sony Vaio laptop.
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:04 PM   #8
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Originally posted by partygirlvox

I love getting all the album art and everything with it. I miss that, downloading sucks! I want my cd player back!
Then buy a walkman for like, 14 bucks.

I'm willing to bet iPod sales started really plummeting the day I got one.
Anything I touch loses around 100000 points in all atributes.

A couple people I know have MP3 Phones and apparently the battery goes down fast or something. They might just fail at charging their phone, though.
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:08 PM   #9
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iPod batteries don't last very long. i have to turn the backlight off if i want to use it for an extended time. and the battery display is even worse! i remember watching the first half of Goodfelas, seeing the battery go all the way down to the red, then stopping the movie to listen to music and having the battery bar go up to halfway full again

a radio would be nice too

btw i think one of the coolest things about the iPod is how the 'i' is lowercase but the P is uppercase, and everyone always types it correctly. it's like when people always put the ! after Panic! for Panic! at the Disco. except the iPod doesn't suck.
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:42 PM   #10
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I noticed Ipods tend to be expensive and if you're on a tight budget as I am MP# players are the more sensible purchase.
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:50 PM   #11
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My prediction is that iPod and iTunes will dominate the market compared to other mp3 devices up until 2008. There´s a lot of flaws, but they will not hurt the overall "hip" image for the general music buying public.

People don´t like to listen to music on their cellphone. Which isn´t a surprise, given the quality and the operating systems.

It´s not as big as Sony´s walkman, anyway the branding works fine.
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:56 PM   #12
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So let me get this straight. An amazing invention that fulfills a need comes along. We all get them. We all love them. Now you are telling me we don't like them anymore?
Why wouldn't I need my iPod anymore?
Why wouldn't I like my iPod anymore?
Bc my mom has one?
That's stupid.
My mom has a car too. I love my car.
I'm not getting rid of it.
My iPod enable me to carry over 2000 U2 songs with me. I've been on the road for work for over 2 weeks now. I don't need to carry a crate of cds or wish I had one with me that I left at home.
I can carry it on the plane, watch videos and listen to music at my convenience.
Now I don't like it bc of this article?
Boy, our attention spans ARE short.
This is like saying refrigerators are out of style.
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Old 09-10-2006, 11:11 PM   #13
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I think you are missing the point from most people who've replied to this thread, it's not that we don't like them anymore of don't use them, I take mine everywhere, had it for year and a half and fortunately I haven't had problems with the batteries like a lot of people do after the first year.

However they really can't expect for their sales to grow every single year, like Chizip said most of their market probably already has one, this things aren't cheap they've sold over 58 million, my brother and some of my friends have 1st and 2nd generation Ipods that still work, mine is a 4th gen photo and even though I want the 5th gen I won't purchase another one until my current one gives in
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Old 09-10-2006, 11:18 PM   #14
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Well, what did they expect? It's not like the iPod is the only kid on the block anymore, and there's tons of other MP3 players out there that cost less. Most people don't require their MP3 player to be capable of making a cup of coffee for them. They just want something they can play their favorite tunes or maybe their entire CD collection on, and that's about it.
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Old 09-11-2006, 12:11 AM   #15
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Originally posted by discothequeLP
btw i think one of the coolest things about the iPod is how the 'i' is lowercase but the P is uppercase, and everyone always types it correctly. it's like when people always put the ! after Panic! for Panic! at the Disco. except the iPod doesn't suck.

As for me and my iPod.. I bought it to play music. It's outdated as hell (I have a Mini) but it still does what I bought it to do: It plays music. It holds all of my music and goes in my pocket, and even has solitaire. I don't need my iPod to watch videos. That's what I have a TV and a computer for. I don't need my iPod to function as a phone, because.. I never talk on the phone, I don't have a mobile, and I don't need one. If they invent an iPod that could make pancakes or something, well then maybe I'd upgrade. But eh, for now my iPod still does exactly what it's supposed to do: It plays music. As a plus, the battery hasn't given me any problems, and I've had it a year and a half. By the time my iPod finally gives up and dies... Steve Jobs probably will have invented a pancake making iPod (or something almost as awesome). I'll look forward to that.

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