Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Latest Apple Hype

I wasn’t going to comment on this but I think the completely let down feeling resonating through the tech/blog community is worth mentioning. As everybody knows Apple had one of their much hyped press events yesterday resulting in the release of a more expensive but Intel based Mac mini, an expensive leather IPod case and a hugely expensive speaker/dock for the IPod. Since this announcement the web has been ablaze with comments criticizing all three products both for their excessive cost and the fact that there really isn’t anything special here, certainty nothing requiring a press conference.

Apple is put in something of a hard spot here, while they have always had a group of devoted followers the overwhelming success of the IPod, ITunes, Music Store combination has put them clearly at the front of “new media revolution” and made them the focus of massive media and community attention, and given amzing goodwill (and thus high expectations) from “tech savvy” consumers rivaling that of Google’s. In just the last year these events have be used to release some remarkable, market changing products such as the nano and video IPods, ITunes with podcast and video support, Intel Macs and Front Row so understandably the tech world seems to stop for the week preceding these events, totally dominated by rumors, predictions and speculation.

In this case the rumors, such as a true video IPod, a PVR Mac Mini, and even movies on ITunes all seemed realistic and proved far more interesting than the actual products released. I think Apple must have realized this and was trying to stoke their own fire a little here and keep their name in the headlines, attached to products that probably will be released something in the future, and get some publicity for a products they must have realized where never going to grab much consumer attention. Unfortunately for them consumers were expecting something remarkable and they have end up being slated by everybody and seen their stock price take a slight slide. This announcement clearly didn’t need an event, the new Mini, while necessary, offers nothing new, a simple press release would have been sufficient and many would argue the case and speaker should never have been released at all as there are numerous third party products doing a better job at far better price points. The problem with basing a company heavily on goodwill and premium products is that most consumers are very fickle and I know many will approach the next Apple event with lower expectations.

Interestingly in a total role reversal it seems Microsoft’s Origami has managed to steal a lot of the Apple hype. Given that Apple seem reluctant to move seriously into video, if the Origami delivers on expectation and is coupled with a reasonable online store for content Microsoft could quickly move into a powerful position in the portable media market.

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