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For iPod Foes, Cool Matters

Apple definitely has it down when it comes to adding the ‘cool factor’ to its products. From its brushed aluminum laptops to its bright and colorful operating system, Apple knows how to please the eye. But it’s not their computers that the competition can’t keep up with, it’s the iPod.

Despite the fact that competitors are making near copies of Apple’s popular portable music device, no company is profiting quite like Apple. Creative launched a massive campaign in an attempt to take away some of the market, but in the end found themselves in the red. The interesting part is that the technology is really not very different between companies. In fact, many devices operate nearly exactly the same as the iPod.

So what gives? Where does Apple derive its success? They haven’t found a new technology that no one else has and they certainly aren’t the cheapest. It seems that only one factor remains: cool. Until the competition can make someone want to wear their device as some sort of fashion statement, the iPod will likely continue to dominate the market.

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iPods are popular among those with low self-esteem. they seem to think that somehow their flashy white music box makes them suck less. i couldn’t disagree more. it seems to show just how dumb they are. as they flash their iPod, i can’t help but think, "hmm, too dumb to shop around and find a better player, with more storage, for half the price."

i don’t own an iPod, but of course i know people that do. i don’t see the appeal. yes, it works. yes, it looks nice. but why would i pay more when i can get more from another device.

so, markmcb, i think you’re right in that apple has cornered the "cool" market. it’s fairly amazing actually that you can convince a large group of people to spend more money for less features all under the guise of looking cool, when you actually just look like everyone else, thus not cool.

i think the same is true for their computers too, though apple definitely doesn’t have control of that market. you still pay more for less. it just seems dumb.

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The 'x' factor by mikeforbes

>make someone want to wear their device as some sort of fashion statement
Exactly. I see the combined effect of a few important factors as the key to Apple’s success in this market:
1. Quality product
2. Unique/iconic, artistic design
3. Catchy, relentless, pop-culture advertising/marketing

A few scattered others have ‘hit’ with this combination… Volkswagen comes to mind. Apple wasn’t the first into the MP3 player market, isn’t the cheapest, and doesn’t necessarily have the best product or the most features. But because of the 3 factors mentioned above, the iPod has become an icon – like Kleenex, Frisbee, and the Walkman, Apple’s brand name is almost the generic name for any MP3 player now.

Quality + design + trendy = $$ People are drawn to it, and even though they may know that it’s not the cheapest, or the "best", they’ll buy it anyway. Call it what you want – brand loyalty, product identification, brainwashing, whatever – it’s effective.

So since I own both an iPod and a Volkswagen, what does that make me?

I think Apple nailed the MP3 market. I personally own an Archos player. It works great with Windows PCs. Mine is 3 years old, so it has basic features, but it can store all sorts of files, back-up, etc. and is easy to use.

What I see happening in the handheld market however is a transition from the MP3 craze to ripping and storing DVDs (just how MP3s started). As folks learn to use free programs such as DVD Decrypter and DVD Shrink, this MPEG4 craze will soon perpetuate. Personally I am into creating a digital movie library. I have all the music I could ever want since I am an 80s and 90s fan. I download the occasional country single here and there, but MP3s have lost there luster for me. Yes, Apple IPODs are still cool, but MP3s….not so much.

Again, Archos has sort of left the MP3 market up to Apple, in hopes that they can claim stake to an emerging MPEG4 market. As computers begin to handle Video recording and packaging with greater ease, this new market will continue to emerge. If so, Apple Ipods may be put down next to portable cd playes, portable mp3 and dvd players for an Archos AV 700. time will tell.

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