Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Is Apple becoming too cocky?

For once, I got it right. Yesterday I wrote "I think it will be an iPod without a trackwheel but with a multi-touch screen, just like the iPhone" and today Steve Jobs announced the iPod Touch. I should go out and play the lotto ;-)

There are many ways to analyze this announcement and the other Apple did today. Let me pick a few angles that highlight a theme that is starting to bother me.

First of all, the iPod Touch it is a glorified iPod (or a dumbed-down iPhone, your call). This time, arguably, the best iPod ever (the tagline does not apply to the iPhone anymore...). I do not see it is a move to expand in a new market, but more a way to prevent the entire iPod line from being cannibalized by the iPhone. A defensive move. Smart, but with zero additional revenues attached.

The iPod Touch is missing some interesting apps, compared with the iPhone. The BIG one: email. Yep, it is a wi-fi device with full browsing but no email. But it has contacts and calendar... Sounds strange? Well, yes. The explanation is that this is just an upgrade of the other iPods, so you have only the features you always had on the iPods. Email was not there (same for weather or stocks). However, you never had a browser in an iPod... If you add it, these other apps could fit nicely as well...

Why do I have to use a web-based email interface (which sucks on the iPhone) when I could have an email app on the device? Why do I have to connect the browser to to check the weather?

The excuse for the browser is that it is necessary to connect to some wi-fi sites. I find it weak.

Bottom line: Apple is preventing users from having on the device features that they would like to have. My take on it: one day they will pay for it, if they keep closing things down. Consumers are not as stupid as they seems. Give them an alternative and they will jump. Loyalty to any one company is at its lowest, these days. See what happened to Tivo. They are playing with fire, but until they are a monopoly, they can do it... But it won't last.

Is Apple becoming too cocky? Mmmhhh, maybe.

A more worrying sign is the creation of the 0.99 per ringtone application. This is one feature of the 51.5kb SendSong application I have on my iPhone TODAY. It probably took Erica Sadun few hours to develop it. If Apple is thinking about making 99 cents with ringtones, it is clear to me they have NO PLANS WHATSOEVER to open up to developers the iPhone (or the iPod Touch, for that matter). Not in the short term, at least. If they did, Erica's app will be on every iPhone and the 99 cents per ringtone revenue would be gone. In an instant. Maybe they will open up portions of the devices, maybe not the music. Most likely, just nada, zip, zilch. Until the monopoly is over.

Is Apple becoming too cocky? Well, probably yes. They have always been cocky. But being the underdog, everybody roots for you. If you become the monopoly, it is way different. You just do not piss off developers, if you build operating systems. You pay for it, one day. Lessons from the past should help...

Last sign of being too cocky? They collapsed the price of the iPhone from $599 to $399. Good sign for consumers, you might say. Bad sign for iPhone sales, investors seem to believe (Apple stock was down 5% today). Maybe, but for sure an horrible sign for all the loyal Apple people that bought a device in the last two months and now realized how fools they have been. Think about the wives looking at their husbands and saying "I told you. You are an idiot. You spent hours waiting in a long line to get an high-five from Apple employees... and you threw away 200 bucks. Idiot. I told you. Go take the garbage out, maybe you'll learn something". Apple is messing up with their loyal customers. Everybody is laughing at them. There is a riot going on in the blogosphere right now...

Is messing up with your loyal customers being too cocky? Well, sure it is. It is a bad mistake. Apple should be very careful... You pay for it, one day.