iPod Shuffle: Why it will sell…

iPod Shuffle Macworld 2005

With no LCD screen, many mp3 flash-based player manufacturers are “surprised” by Apple’s move with the iPod Shuffle. Creative’s CEO Sim Wong Hoo has the following to share…

“Actually, to me it’s a big let-down: we’re expecting a good fight but they’re coming out with something that’s five generations older. It’s our first generation MuVo One product feature, without display, just have a (shuffle feature). We had that — that’s a four-year-old product.

“So I think the whole industry will just laugh at it, because the flash people — it’s worse than the cheapest Chinese player. Even the cheap, cheap Chinese brand today has display and has FM. They don’t have this kind of thing, and they expect to come out with a fight; I think it’s a non-starter to begin with.”

The diffusion of innovation theory has shown us that throughout history, a product’s success cannot depend on just features alone, but a series of factors which make up the product’s environment, aka the “whole product”. (See debunking VHS vs. Betamax urban myth)… the most dominant product isn’t always about being simply the best in terms of capabilities, but of how well received it is in society. Granted Apple has the upper hand having literally created a “market” for the iPod, but while I am certainly not a normal computer user (I keep telling my ETC colleagues that we should be considered “godlike” in terms of computer users), I have the same basic needs as any fellow techno-newbie… I want something that works.

In the iPod Shuffle’s case, “less is more” when it comes to making the music listening experience a painless one. While my hand-me-down 20gb iPod (thanks dad!) is great for storing and searching a large portion of my progressive music collection, it’s only great for long trips. Even that is a little clumbersome when I wanna listening to something between a short walk from one end of the campus to another. This is where the iPod shuffle excels… to me I think of it as a “fire & forget” mp3 player. You buy it relatively cheaper than competing mp3 players and use it as it was meant to be, barely any user interaction during quick trips. From the user’s end, the best feature is the low price. Couple this with simple tasteful design and decent product support, the iPod Shuffle makes for a great product usage experience.

From the Apple’s perspective of things, another strong theory would be the marketing aspect of the iPod family. If there were an LCD screen, the pricing wouldn’t be too far from the iPod mini, which already has a decent market share. So there you go, Apple captures all three market segments of the mp3 player scene with sensibility to boot.

4 thoughts on “iPod Shuffle: Why it will sell…

  1. Oh yeah, having a daily feed of podcasts on your iPod Shuffle would be great, so long as you only keep the most recent episodes so you won’t have to seek through them!

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