September 05, 2007

We Discerning Apple Fans Always Want More

Unless you've been living under a rock, you already know that Apple raised the ante once again with a slew of updates to their iPod lineup, introducing a new iPhone-like iPod touch, with a widescreen look, touch screen application launching, built in wireless downloads and the dreaded iPhone keyboard. The company also added new colors to the iPod shuffle, further shrunk the iPod nano, and expanded the iPod (now the iPod Classic) to a massive 160 Gigabytes. Oh yeah, they also reduced the price of the iPhone by 200 bucks - meaning the barrier to entry, not counting AT&T, is a mere $399.


Apple owns this space, and rightfully so. While slower moving dinosaurs, including Microsoft and Sony, try as they might to approximate the company's previous iPod model, Apple is more than happy to innovate faster than everyone else and change the game right from under their feet. And consumers are loving it - with more than 100 million iPods sold (including several to my household). But the funny thing is that the more we Apple fans overthink the whole thing, it's not too hard to always want more, and find ourselves demanding the impossible - a new device that doesn't exist, and isn't coming.

Here's the thing. The iPod touch is exactly what everybody was begging for: An iPhone without the phone, plus a wireless iTunes Store - including the ability to hook up to WiFi and watch YouTube, view TV shows, photos, and even surf the Web. But saddled right next to the iPod classic, we start thinking... only 16 gigabytes? But the iPod classic has 160! That's ten times more! Bah humbug!

And don't even get me started on the whining around the iPhone price drop. Fans are screaming bloody murder, from Engadget, Paul Thurrott, Business 2.0, Zoli Erdos and Chris Pirillo to TUAW, who went so far as to say "Apple screwed you". (At least ParisLemon gets it.)

Silly consumers.

All Apple has done is create the widest, most versatile lineup of digital audio devices out there, period. Want the minimum? Shuffle is for you. Want a phone? The iPhone is for you. Want to store your entire music library? You need the Classic. But we seem to always want to have this delicious sounding mashup - say... a 160 Gigabyte widescreen iPod with a touchscreen, wireless downloads, infinite battery life, and phone capabilities, not from AT&T, for $99. It's not going to happen.

It reminds me of the famous Homer Simpson line, when Lisa informs him that bacon, pork chops and ham all come from the same source. "Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal."

If Apple announces the world's largest, clearest laptops, we want them lighter. If Apple announces five colors of iPod shuffles, we want a black one. If Apple announces the iPhone is on AT&T, we want it on T-Mobile. Though Apple surprised us with a partnership with Starbucks, many were expecting the long-awaited addition of The Beatles. It's enough to make a product marketing, product management and engineering team completely crazy.

So while I drool over the new introductions, take time to watch the Steve Jobs presentation tonight, and try to think about good reasons to upgrade my iPod or switch over to the iPhone, we should all remember that despite the company's God-like appearance, they still have to operate within the laws of physics and fiscal responsibility. Oh! And if I end up purchasing anything nifty, I'll be sure to let you know.