iPod Differentiation

with 7 comments

When Apple introduced the iPod mini, it became an instant mega-success. It was one of the main reasons for Apple’s surge in mp3 player market-share from 30% to 50%. A brief look at the feature list of the mini gives us the main gist of the player: 3.6″ tall, 2.0″ wide and 0.5″ thick. It also had 4GB of capacity and an 8 hour battery. But the iPod mini wasn’t the only player out at that time; so was the 3rd Generation iPod (my iPod :D). It’s features were: 4.1″ tall, 2.4″ wide and 0.62″ thick and it came in 15GB, 20GB and 40GB models. Other differences included weight and screen-size. However, the most important common feature between these products was capacity. Capacity is what ultimately defined iPods then and defines them now.

The introduction of the iPod mini saw the beginning of Apple catering to the “lower-end” market. I use lower-end with quotation marks because, in essence, there was very little about the mini that was really all that worse from the 3G iPod. Sure, it’s screen was smaller, allowing for only 6 lines of text instead of the 3G’s 7, and yes, it didn’t have any sort of recording capabilities, but these were quite minor differences. In the end, the only reason most people would have wanted to get the larger, less scratch-resistant 3G iPod would have been to have more space for music. However, even though many more people bought iPod minis instead of 3Gs, there was still a large chunk of people buying buying the 3Gs. These people bought the larger iPods not because of the extra space they would gain, but because the mini did not have all the space that they wanted for their music. For most of these people, 4GB was just not enough. Even these days, most analysts are saying that it isn’t the 1GB or 2GB nanos that are the best-selling of the model, but the 4GB. This shows that 4GB of capacity is pretty much just the right amount of space for many people.

This being the case, once the nano/mini category of players gets to roughly 3G capacities, the main differentiating factor between both the “high and low-end” product lines, capacity, will become an ineffective way of getting people to upgrade to the higher-end, more costly models (this is all assuming that nanos gain video functionality, which really isn’t all that crazy of an idea). And this is exactly why Apple will release a “true” video iPod, as shown here:

The main benefit of such a player is obvious: You get a nice big screen to watch your shows instead of the significantly smaller one currently used on the 5G iPod (or whatever video-enabled nano is out at the time). Initially, Apple will introduce their product at the high-end, decreasing the price every several months until it simply replaces the standard-sized iPod. In the end, Apple will differentiate their products based on the user-experience; The iPod nano would be really small and portable, but it’s video capabilities would only make it ideal for a quick sports highlight. However, this true video iPod would be ideal for watching feature-length films on the go, or just about any video, due to the larger screen. But you lose the size and the portability of the nano. And this sort of product lineup would be completely legitimate too. Apple won’t be able to make the nano similar to the high-end model, otherwise it would have to become larger, and they won’t be able to make a higher-end model similar to a nano, because the screen would have to get smaller.

Of course, none of this is actually the case at the moment. There is no “true” video iPod, and there is no video-enabled iPod nano. I very well could be wrong, and Apple might go in some different direction with their players. However, I think this is the most logical way of both furthering the iPod while still maintaining separation between product lines.


Written by Kumaran Vijayan

June 12, 2006 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Responses

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  1. Hey, I’m right after all. I just discovered this proof right now. Hover your mouse over the ‘true iPod video’ pictures and take a look at the URLs.

    Rasengan Zero

    June 12, 2006 at 8:38 pm

  2. Btw, I’m only partially right because I was half-convinced after seeing those pictures that they were fake.

    Rasengan Zero

    June 12, 2006 at 8:39 pm

  3. … That thing would drain batteries like a b**ch…

    I believe that the biggest challenge Apple would encounter when designing an iPod such as this one would be creating a battery that would actually last an entire movie, while powering a large screen, while still maintaining a small size. Possible? Not at the moment.


    June 13, 2006 at 1:57 pm

  4. Rasengan, I knew that they were fake. I thought everyone already knew that.
    Jesse, you make a good point with the battery life. I’m thinking that maybe by next year battery techonologies will have improved enough to make such a product viable.


    June 13, 2006 at 2:08 pm

  5. That would be cool. Then I can power my 19″ CRT with a AAA.


    June 13, 2006 at 6:46 pm

  6. Oh my god I’m an ass.


    November 17, 2009 at 6:01 pm

  7. Alot of bloggers not very pleased with this new iPad.There was just 2 much hype over it and lots of people got turned off.Thing is, I actually see lots of the cool potential of this gizmo. Third-party apps for playing tunes, games, newsprints and magazine and FFS books, tons of good stuff, but IMHO they failed to sell it very well (excluding the books). It feels sort of not finished

    Johna Mcfolley

    January 31, 2010 at 5:07 am

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