Friday, January 13, 2006

Manufacturing Desire

A few days ago, Steve Jobs announced Apple's latest and greatest notebook, the MacBook Pro. Set to replace the PowerPC-based PowerBook, this machine boasts a brighter screen and a super fast Intel processor, among other goodies. It looks pretty sweet.

This Macworld also marked the first Macworld in recent memory that didn't include a new iteration of the iPod. I was somewhat surprised, since it seems like a Macworld without a new iPod is like a day in Seattle without rain. Let's take a look at the iPod's history (thanks Wikipedia!):
  • October 2001: iPod released
  • March 2002: 10 GB iPod released
  • July 2002: PC compatible 20 GB iPod V2 released
  • April 2003: iPod V3 released
  • June 2003: 40 GB iPod released
  • January 2004: iPod mini and HP co-branded iPod introduced
  • July 2004: iPod V4 released
  • October 2004: iPod Photo/Color released, iPod U2 Special Edition released
  • January 2005: iPod shuffle introduced
  • February 2005: 40 GB iPod Photo discontinued, 60 GB price drop, iPod mini V2 released
  • June 2005: iPod and iPod Photo lines merged, prices drop. U2 iPod gets color
  • September 2005: iPod nano announced
  • October 2005: iPod V5 (iPod Video) announced, Harry Potter iPod reintroduced
Lately, it seems like Apple has a new iPod announcement every month or two. I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get "iPod fatigue." Perhaps it's a good thing that we didn't see a new iPod this January, since I'm probably not the only one.

Apple's continued ability to generate desire for each iteration of their iPod is impressive. The past two years have seen iPod sales nearly doubling every other quarter, give or take. It's not stopping either. Apple's Q1 2006 iPod figures account for one third of all iPod sales to date.

I have an iPod. Two actually: an iPod Photo and a Shuffle. My Shuffle has found new life accompanying me on my snowboarding trips and I listen to my Photo every day. They're pretty nifty little devices. I don't think that I'll be replacing them any time soon. I'm happy with what I've got.

Am I the only one? Do others replace their iPods the minute a new one hits the shelves? I don't think so. It takes a certain kind of person to keep up with Apple. The obsolescence curve on these products is pretty steep, and it's just too pricey to stay on. My bet is that people will continue to use their old iPods for as long as they continue to work. There will be exceptions of course, but it's hard to justify dropping another $300 on a new iPod with video when I don't use the photo features on the one I've got.

So when will it end? So far, Apple has sold just over 41 million iPods. How many more need to be sold before they saturate the market? I don't have an answer for that, but it'll probably be the day my grandma gets an iPod for Christmas.

Come to think of it, we've still got a long way to go.


Blogger Blo said...

When you say "saturate the market", I think "that's already been done!" If you really need your Grandma to have one before you think Apple's accomplished that, then let's just buy her one and get it over with.

Fri Jan 13, 10:58:00 AM PST  

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