Mac Scope

iPod mini a Success Despite Pundits

Stephen Van Esch - 2004.02.18

I generally stay far away from speculating on new products. There are simply too many variables at work for one person to come up with a reasonable prediction. For example, the original iMac was doomed to fail because it didn't have a floppy drive and wasn't expandable. PC pundits trashed the little machine, while Mac stalwarts hailed it as the second coming.

The iMac was a smashing success.

Fast forward to the Cube. It was doomed to fail because it was too expensive and wasn't expandable. The PC pundits trashed the little machine while Mac stalwarts hailed it as the sexiest computer ever created. The machine failed miserably in the market.

When the iPod mini made its debut at Macworld, the general consensus from both sides was that it was too expensive for what you got. The argument that you could get 15 gigs of space for only $50 more was compelling and made me wonder if a new Cube was in the making. Then I read this interesting and well thought out piece by Jason Fried, iPod mini: Smaller Rightfully Costs More. His argument makes perfect sense, but my inner cynic usually wonders whether the masses can be swayed by logic. If the great dot com run up is any indication, the answer is no.

But what's this? A sensible argument prevailing in the market? This just might be the case considering Apple has reported strong preorders for the iPod mini. Perhaps the buying public has figured out the true value here.

Or likely not. After all, if true value based on rational decisions prevailed, the Mac would be standard the world over (and all the Mac writers would be trumpeting the greatness of BeOS or something similar). What's most likely happened here is that folks just plain adore the small form factor, cool colours, and hipness of the iPod Mini.

iPod mini

From Apple's recent string of successes, I'd have to say that lessons from the Cube really seem to have stuck. We haven't seen a real miserable failure from Apple since the Cube. Most likely Apple decided to hire the best market analysts money could buy and locked them in a cellar while they crunched through numbers and focus groups.

I'm certain that most people who struck down the iPod mini in the first few weeks will be more than happy to see it succeed.

Me, I'm just glad I played it safe on the sidelines for this one. LEM

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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