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Apple Watch: iTunes/iPod Announcements
Saturday, 2003 October 18 - 1:02 am
Apple introduces iTunes for Windows, an iPod media reader and photo storage, voice recording, audio books, iTunes gift certificates and allowances, celebrity playlists, and partnerships with AOL and Pepsi.

Here's a breakdown of the new Apple iTunes announcements:

iTunes for Windows: Everyone saw this coming, and it's finally here to give Apple a crack at the Windows-based music download market. As I've talked about before, this is a critical part of multi-pronged approach to cornering the music distribution system. I looked at iTunes on Windows briefly, running on Windows 2000... it was sluggish to start up, perhaps because it couldn't contact the music store through the firewall at work? I'm not sure... Apple will have to work to make sure the user's first experience is a good one.

iPod media reader, photo storage: This seems like a pretty clever idea, but 256MB flash cards are awfully cheap these days, and they hold several hundred pictures. I've never come close to filling up my 340MB IBM MicroDrive on my 4MP digital camera. There would have to be a lot of picture taking, on a trip where I don't have access to my computer, for this to become useful. That said, advances like this do tempt me to trade in my old dockless iPod for one of the new dockable ones. There's planned obsolescence at work for you.

Voice recording: I can see where lots of folks, students particularly, might want this. One could put a whole semester's worth of lectures on an iPod! I'm curious to see how good the microphone/speaker combination is.

Audio books: A good idea and a logical progression, though something of a limited market. Personally, I can't imagine spending ten hours listening to a book that I could read in two.

iTunes gift certificates and allowances: Always a good idea. For Apple, it can lock in sales, earn interest on the "float", and pocket any unused amounts. For users, this represents a really easy gift-giving opportunity: send some Apple iCards and iTunes gift certificates, and you've got your Christmas shopping done in ten minutes.

Celebrity playlists: Celebrity tie-ins help establish iTunes as a serious player in the market; they give the service credibility. The playlists themselves may help introduce people to more music. And, this may be the beginning of a review/feedback system for the music, to help people find the really good stuff. This is a little thing, but with Apple, it's always about doing the little things right.

AOL partnership: An important tie-in, perhaps a glimpse of the future. I have some doubts about the future of AOL as an ISP, but given that AOL is tied to Time Warner, this could be the start of something big. And besides, the vast AOL user base is nothing to sneeze at.

Pepsi promotion: This is a clever trick; this promotion will force people to download iTunes and use the music store, to redeem their prize. It's the old "the first one is free" idea, popularized by cocaine dealers all over the country. I found it funny that Pepsi was the choice of partners here, given Apple's history.

All in all, these events seem evolutionary, not revolutionary; but the real revolution is just around the corner. Stay tuned...
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch


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