Apple made a number of big announcements today, including lowerng the price of the iPhone and releasing a new iPod. How’d they do?
Scores on a scale from 1-10:
Ringtones: Apple announced that it will cost you 99 cents extra to get music ringtones on your iPhone, on top of what you paid for the song (only songs from iTunes, not your own music, will work). Besides the $2 total, and the limited inventory, users can just hack their iPhone with little effort to do the same thing. Underwhelming, not effortless (you have to edit the ringtone yourself, and pay for each edit), and buyers will avoid this one like the plague.
iPod Nano: New Nano is short, fat, plays video and games, has CoverFlow (with poor performance). The pricing is great, but the player is too damn small. The screen, while improved, is too tiny for video, making the video feature a waste. The old iPod screen was tough for video; this is going to be impossible. The price is great, though, and the shape is kind of stupid. Gets good points for being cheap, lots of storage, and colorful, but if you want video, the grade is a 4.
iPod Classic: The old iPod is now “Classic”. It’s also thinner and with a lot more storage. The 80-gig is a mere $250 and the new 160-gig is $350. The Zune can’t compete with those numbers and these features, not with Microsoft’s failure to deliver on wifi promises. Barring an 80-gig Zune at $250 with better wifi features, Microsoft could be toast.
Apple does not have a huge hole in its lineup. As you’ll see there are no iPods between 16 gigs and 80 gigs, and certainly no 30-gig cheaper than $250. Apple should have kept making the 30-gig for $200. That’s a mistake. The Classic is clearly unpopular (Nano is the top seller), and Apple is overloading it with space. Don’t be surprised if they find a way to retire the model entirely in a year. Nothing really new, but holy crap the storage space!
iPod Touch: New iPod, basically a thinner iPhone with no call phone features. It has wifi, internet, YouTube, giant touch screen. For $300 (8 gigs) and $400 (16 gigs), this is the new top iPod (forget the Classic, k?), It’s a wonderful thing, though not cheap enough to not just pay a little extra for an iPhone. As usual, the iPod is full of great features, but the price begs questions. Still, if you wanted an iPhone, here’s a cheaper way to do it.
Compared to a real PDA, it’s not perfect. Still, it is the slickest touchscreen device on the market, full of fun stuff, and it works better as an iPod than an iPhone. It’s a great product, not perfect, but really, really good. So tempting, I might buy it (and I’ve never bought an iPod).
iPhone: Apple dropped the price by $200 and killed off the 4-gigger. An 8-gig iPhone is now $400, $100 more than a similar iPod Touch, but (for the most part ) still stuck with an awful AT&T contract. It’s cheap enough to not be absurd, and while the price drop should annoy the biggest Apple fans, it makes the hottest phone of the year more available.
Wireless iTunes Store: This is useful, and would be nothing special, but Microsoft has been dragging their feet on this for a year. Microsoft’s failure to ship this makes Apple look amazing, so this gets a high grade.
Starbucks: Seriously, they didn’t know that a ten-minute commercial for Starbucks would bore the hell out of everyone? And now the iPhone will annoy you and say, “Hey, a Starbucks!” every time you pass one? If you can’t turn this “feature” off, it’s a reason not to buy.
Overall? Apple did great, not spectacular. Sales should be flat, which is great, considering the high expectations from previous years, but it takes really good products to merely stay flat at this point. The main thing is that Apple proved today that it exists in a seperate universe from its competitors, and that their products really don’t measure up.
Zune 2 better be better than we’re hearing, or it shouldn’t be released at all.