iPod: Just an MP3 Player?!?

Posted by on December 23, 2005 at 9:18 am.

OK, so now my 7yo daughter has asked Santa for an iPod. She was sly in getting our OK because she started with requests for the cute little iDog (fodder for “iDog: Just a Speaker with Lights?!?” blog). When we mentioned the iDog is meant for connecting to an MP3 player (and she didn’t have one), she corrected us to say she thinks it requires an iPod. In that short exchange, iPod went to the top of her Santa list. In fact, iPod knocked every other toy off the list by the time she reached Santa’s knee. Even that cute little iDog got kicked to the curb. Narnia books got a parting nod only because a list of one (iPod) didn’t really meet the definition of a list.

So how has the “iPod” replaced “MP3 player” as the term for a device that pumps MP3s into your ears? Is it because the ear buds are white and black earbuds are so 2004 (unless they’re on the slick new BLACK iPod garnering eBay price premiums)? Well, kinda…

Those guys/gals at Apple went to marketing class and, although they don’t always get it right (et tu Newton), they sometimes get it very right. Along with great execution and some network externalities (e.g. iTunes), Marketing’s 4Ps is a decent way to think about iPod’s breakout success.

P1 – Product: It all starts here for iPod. Apple designed a very cool look/feel device for a set of users who value cool. They also tackled a major customer pain: “How do I navigate all those MP3s I pilfer, er, share with friends?” and provided big storage with a nifty interface.

P2 – Price: This was an easy one, but whoulda thunkit. While all other MP3 player prices were dropping, they came in high and have stayed pretty high. That strategy only works if you get Product right and are able to be the seize the premium category — which iPod did. The price alone adds to the exclusive nature of the device and the “in-crowd” feel of owning one.

P3 – Promotion: From the very first ads that were all feel and little substance, Apple promoted the iPod as a device that delivers a good feeling by ownership and display. They followed that up with significant marketing dollars and have enlarged the brand with multiple offerings.

P4 – Place: Apple tackled this P with tight placement of the iPods and broad placement of iPod accessories. They really hit a homerun with partnerships in an industry looking for a way to capitalize on all the digital music flying around. Although it’s tough to get the devices, you can find docking stations, FM transmitters and skins everywhere you turn — all promoting the “iPod” brand. With all those cool add-ons, it’s no wonder Apple is puffing to keep up with device sales.

So, without getting too academic, it feels like Apple got it right across the 4Ps. How long will that last, and will video push them farther or stall because video is consumed diferently than audio? I don’t know, but the iPod Video has already pushed a bunch of things to the bottom of my Santa list this year. I hope he’s got connections in Cupertino, for me and my daughter…

Sent from my Treo

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