The iPhone Challenge

No sooner had I hit the publish key on my Brand Engagement – Apple Store post, did I see this challenge from Seth Godin:

Steve Ballmer says, “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” Predicting the future of the iPhone is perfect bait for marketing pundits everywhere. How about a pool and we’ll see who’s as smart as they pretend to be? So, I invite you to make a prediction, trackback it here and a year from now, we’ll take a look.

I agree with Seth; the iPhone will be big this year and even bigger next year.  Here’s why:

  1. People, especially young teens, are totally engaged with the Apple brand.
  2. The cell phone and the iPod are probably the most important possessions a young teenager has.
  3. It will be the ultimate aspirational gadget for young teens.  Having the coolest iPod and phone are status symbols for them; they get you attention.  If someone else has a RAZR, you will drive your parents crazy begging for one, even if you have a perfectly good phone (voice of experience talking)

What do you think?

Is This Your Next Mobile Phone???

SamsungSamsung Electronics presented their new three-way foldable combination of phone, personal computer and music player tailored for an emerging wireless broadband technology the company is pushing as a global standard.

The new device was unveiled at a Samsung-sponsored industry conference on Mobile Wi-Max – a new technology delivering faster remote broadband connections.

Its called MITs, which stands for Mobile Intelligent Terminal by Samsung.   It weights about a pound and contains a fold out keyboard, 5-inch screen, 30GB hard drive, and Windows software. 

It is scheduled to be released in South Korea in early 2007 with Intel, Sprint Nextel and Motorola all looking to commercialize it in the States soon thereafter.

Samsung Electronics unveils new communication device tailored for WiMax

Disruption Ahead: Top Rock Manager Warns Labels and Apple

Michael Urlocker’s blog, Urlocker on Disruption, has a great post giving his take on an interview that UK’s The Register did with Peter Jenner, former manager of such top rock bands as the Clash, Pink Floyd and Billy Bragg.  Jenner says record labels are doomed unless they end their flawed approach to music downloads.   And while this most obviously applies to tradition music companies, who have continually demonstrated that they just don’t get it,  Jenner also warns that Apple’s iTunes is out of step with the youth that purchase most of the music.

Despite the success of iTunes, which has racked up 1.5 billion dollar-a-song downloads in the past five years, the model just does not reflect how youth today use downloads.

“The unitary payment doesn’t suit the technology, it doesn’t suit how they are actually using downloads. You don’t want to pay a dollar for each track when you want to explore music.”

According to Jenner, this all ads up to an industry facing disruption. Urlocker comments:

In many ways, the issues Jenner highlights have shown themselves to be critical in other industries that have faced disruption, including telecommunications, newspapers and the auto industry.

The recording industry is awash in incompetence protected by an oligopoly power structure of the four largest music labels, Jenner says. Highlights from the interview:

  • Digital rights management schemes are a scam because they force listeners to pay multiple times for the same product;
  • The music industry has started to give up on these schemes;
  • Music labels should outsource everything except finance and distribution;
  • Within a few years, blanket license regimes will be in place in most countries, despite the early political failure of such a regime in France;
  • The battles over online music downloads are precursor skirmish compared to the bigger battle: Mobile music downloads
  • iPod Owners “Likely to Switch”to Zune

    Who doesn’t love Chocolate? Looks like even iPod owners can’t resist the sweetness of Microsoft’s new player according to a new survey. The poll of American adults and teens, conducted by ABI Research, found that 58 percent of iPod owners were either “somewhat likely” or “extremely likely” to choose Microsoft’s Zune as their next MP3 player, compared with 59 percent for those who own another brand of audio gadget. Only 15 percent of iPod owners chose “not very likely” or “not at all likely” to characterize their Zune-buying interest.What happened to the idea that iPod owners were fanatical about Apple’s player?

    “Our conclusion…is that iPod users don’t display the same passionate loyalty to iPods that Macintosh users have historically shown for their Apple products,” said ABI analyst Steve Wilson, suggesting that Apple is going to have to pull some awfully cute product-enhancement bunnies out of the hat next year to retain its market lead.

    ABI Research

    Cingular Integrates XM into it’s Music Service

    cingular_xm.jpgCingular announced it’s Music Service yesterday. Gizmodo covered it and conducted a poll to get reader’s perspective on the value of Sprint & Verizon’s music services. I personally don’t understand why people would pay the overly inflated prices that the carriers charge and apparently, Gizmodo’s readers are in my camp. The results (here) say that only 1.2% of responders use the service frequently or all the time. So what makes Cingular thing their service will be more attractive? How about XM Satellite Radio.

    Cingular will also be teaming up with XM satellite radio to offer streaming satellite radio content on mobile phones beginning November 6.  Now that’s cool!  I have a Pioneer Inno portable and I love it, but I hate having to carry multiple devices around. Bear in mind that the Cingular service will be a condensed version of XM (no Fred), for $8.99 per month.  Not sure if you can get a lower rate is part of an XM family plan.  The PAD data will be available on the phone, so users will be able to see what songs they are listening to.

    <image via Gizmodo>

    RunAway = Nike + iPod

    For anyone who wants to get running with the Nike+iPod Sport Kit but is disinclined to drop a hundred bucks on a new pair of special Nike+ kicks, comes the RunAway AnyShoe adapter. This $8 weatherproof sensor holder attaches to your running shoe’s laces and has an easy-to-access button to turn the sensor’s wireless signal off for air travel—which is a slight improvement over the Nike+ shoes, which require you to remove an insole to get at the device. The RunAway is available in five colors to match even the orangest of sneakers. Get your training groove on this way for $30. It is an investment that’ll reap rewards in more runs and a new-found appreciation for leggings.

    <reblogged from Gizmodo>

    DVD Jon, DoubleTwist crack Apple’s FairPlay

    Jon Johansen (a.k.a. DVD Jon), the 20-something hacker widely known for helping crack the piracy protections on DVDs several years ago, is taking on Apple Computer again. He has reverse-engineered Apple’s FairPlay, the digital rights management technology used to make iPod and iTunes a closed system.

    He has started DoubleTwist Ventures to license the technology which will make other online music stores work with Apple’s iPod device and let iTunes songs play on gadgets other than the iPod.

    In an interview with ZDNet, Monique Farantzos, Johansen’s business associate and DoubleTwist co-founder provides details on the company, the technology.  It’s easy to understand why the start-up has been profitable since day one:

    When you buy a DVD, you know that the DVD will play on your Toshiba or Sony or Philips player, but when you buy music or video online, you don’t have that. It is kind of like the zoo: Every animal is singing a different tune. We hope to make sense of that, and we have developed a technology to enable that.

    No matter how much you wall in your garden, people will find a way to make things simpler.

    Hand On the Zune

    The old gamers at 2old2play got their arthritic hands on the Zune and offer a full report. The most important detail?

    The top of the Zune had a clear glass layer while the exterior had a tactile feel to it, nothing like the hard metal and plastic of the iPod devices. The ‘skin’ of the Zune was a ‘rubberized’ material that had a smooth seductive feel to it. I found myself unable to stop stroking the device, so much that the demo assistant asked me to put it down.

    Read the detailed review here: Hands On The Zune [2old2play]

    MobiBLU Cube 2 Now Available – Ditches Walmart?


    The MobiBLU Cube 2 is officially out in the US. The MP3 playback is improved with WOW HD sound enhancement technology from SRS Labs (for whatever that’s worth). Also, the Cube 2 features a 65k color OLED screen that can playback WMA movies at a massive .5-inches and supports PlaysforSure.

    The Cube 2 comes in 4 colors (collect them all). Sizes range from 1-2gb ($100-$120), while the battery life is still only rated for 10 hours audio playback (5 for video). Even with a better screen, we would like to see a longer lasting battery.

    But the big surprise? The new version is available on the manufacturer’s site, Amazon, and NOT Walmart. The original MobiBLU was Walmart exclusive, so this is shocking news.

    <via Gizmodo>

    The Music Store in Your Pocket

    Seems that I am on a Zune kick lately, but I am not alone. Wired has an insightful story on the new content models that are emerging from Microsoft and the satellite radio guys. The big deal is that these models allow you to bypass the centralized store to get content wirelessly from other users (in the case of Zune) and from hundreds of channels of programming over satellite. The article discusses the Sirius Stiletto model, but XM has a similar offering. Regarding Zune, the article points out that it…

    gives you another way to discover music without hunting and pecking through a multimillion-song, computer-based catalog on your lonesome. Users can beam songs directly to each other using the devices’ ad hoc wireless connections, significantly reducing the friction between a friend recommending something to you and you acquiring it. The beamed song will play three times before asking you to buy it — or, if you’re a Zune subscriber, you can keep it without paying an extra dime.

    All of these new approaches are attempting to gain traction in the Apple-dominated digital music market through simplicity. An MP3 player with a music store and hundreds of music channels built-in could make the iPod seem unconnected, which is rarely a good thing to be.

    Zune Coming Soon…. to Wal-Mart??

    Wal-Mart is prominently displaying the new Microsoft Zune on its website, announcing that you will be able to get it at as soon as it is released. Interestingly, I cannot find any reference to Zune on the major CE players sites (Circuit City and Best Buy), or even on Those three are heavily touting the new “remastered” Apple products while Wal-Mart appears to care less. Perhaps that says something about supplier/retailer relationships. It also speaks volumes about Wal-Mart who is stepping up to the plate with what looks to be a very cool item from Microsoft. It is clear from their latest marketing, that Wal-Mart wants to dominate the CE business and taking the lead on new products like Zune helps to establish credibility in that arena. CE retailers would be well advised to remember what happened to Toys’R’Us when Wal-Mart set their sights on the toy business.

    It’s Offical, Microsoft Zune is Announced


    If Tivo3, Apple Movie Store, iTV, and Wii weren’t enought this week, Microsoft ham made official what most of us have known for a while by announcing their new “Zune” multifunction thingy (more pictures at the bottom of the post).  The player will have a 30GB hard drive, built-in FM tuner, 3.0-inch screen, and 802.11 wireless. It will also come in three colors, black, brown and white. 

    You can share content with other Zunes across the wireless network.  You can listen to a track from another person for up to three days, after which you’ll have to buy it from the Zune Marketplace store—their official name for the store.  Zune Marketplace has two purchase options:  per song like iTunes, and unlimited download subscription like Napster.

    And while the Apple fanboys have been speculating for months about an iPhone, it looks like Microsoft is serious about it.  At a press conference yesterday, Chris Stephenson, GM for Zune, told the press, “A Zune phone is definitely part of the future of this brand.”


    It’s Showtime….

    As usual, Engadget  provided great, real-time coverage of Steve Job’s announcments yesterday.  Lot’s of amazing stuff including a new smaller iPod, playing games Games like Pac Man on your ipod, and the sneak peek at the very exciting “iTV” product.  Apple is everywhere:  In your car, at the gym, at work.  Now they are aiming at dominating your living room.

    10:54AM – “It looks like this [a flatter Mini]. It’s called iTV. That’s a codeword. we need to come up with a better name.”

    10:55AM – No power brick
    HDMI connector for all new big-screen flat panel TVs
    Component video (RGB)
    analog audio RCA jacks
    Optical audio
    Controled with the familiar white remote
    Hooks directly to your screen or to your set-top box as another input, or to your receiver.

    [Steve brings one out.] “This is it. More importantly I have a WORKING one plugged in right here … [he flips through iTV super-FrontRow app]”

    10:56AM – [Steve finds and plays The Incredibles.]

    11:04AM – [Still demoing!]

    11:07AM – “You can do movie trailers form right from your couch. This is big screen over the internet, live as we watch.”
    [Trailer for All the King’s Men with Sean Penn]
    [“Casino Night” episode of The Office]

    [Album art scrolls by … Steve chooses Dylan, than Highway 61, which plays through the home theater setup]
    “A lot of us have our stereos hooked up to our new TV’s, it’s the best stereo in the house now.”

    What Will Jobs Do??

    Sticky Fingers

    On Tuesday Apple fans the world over will be on Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, when he is expected to announce the most ambitious iPod service yet – the sale of feature-length films via the internet for viewing on the devices, which may receive an expanded ‘widescreen’ and improved storage capacity.  Wired has a nice piece containing a number of creative mock-ups depicting what the new iPod design might be.  Interestingly, Amazon jumped into the video download business last week, trumping this weeks Apple announcement.

    There are rumors that Jobs will also announce a long expected ‘iPhone’, combining the music function and sleek style of an iPod with a mobile phone.

    Why the iPod is losing its cool

    The Guardian Unlimited has a provocative article on the recent decline in iPod sales:

    Analysts warn that the iPod has passed its peak. From its launch five years ago its sales graph showed a consistent upward curve, culminating in a period around last Christmas that saw a record 14 million sold. But sales fell to 8.5 million in the following quarter, and down to 8.1 million in the most recent three-month period. Wall Street is reportedly starting to worry that the bubble will burst.

    The article goes on to describe a number of possible reasons for the decline.  The market is saturated.  The iTunes system is closed and there are new, less-costly models emerging.  While the iPod has been the definition of “cool” for 5 years, there are a number of big league competitors coming up fast (Microsoft Zune, Samsung K5). 

    Has Apple’s signature pocket device with white earphones simply become too common to be cool? 

    See related story here.