Apple Shows it’s Hand

So Apple came out with its revamped Ipod range. Many are calling it a bit limp with the biggest news being that Steve Jobs is back at work and healthy. However I think a mild repositioning has taken place.

What was new then? Ipod Nanos were given a ton of functionality from cameras (video) to pedometers. Apple are trying to make them a lifestyle product which happen to play music. They increased storage capacity on the old school Ipods and upgraded the Itouch to similar internal specs as the Iphone but without the camera. Thats right, without the camera.

Whats goings on here? Its simple; ever since they launched the Iphone it was expected that at some point there would congestion and overlap with the Apple product portfolio. Hence Apple have clearly decided to give with some products but take with others. Want an Ipod that has a camera but can’t afford the phone? Your option is the Nano. Want a touch Ipod but do not want the phone, get the Itouch, but it won’t do everything you need. Each product is either reaching out to specific consumers or are designed in such a way as to infruite them and hence force them to own multiple devices or continually upgrade!

Now on the music front, there was no demonstration of a Tablet, and hence my prediction for what it might mean for the music industry is still out there. Whatch the next 6 months for that story to continue to bubble as it won’t die down. However they did launch their new version of the LP. A download that includes a lot more artwork, interviews, lyrics and other content. Itunes LP is what they are calling it, and Im not going to say that for the cost to produce that content, ‘it won’t work’. Im sure it will bring in extra revenue for the labels and publishers and should be welcomed. However don’t for a minute jump to hyping this to a return to the ‘shared experience’ of all of us buying an album again.

Id like to see them sign some exclusive album or content deals and only sell them in this format. It would be an interesting experiment. If the content was compelling enough and sold at the right price would the LP format harm, boost or make no difference to sales?

Recent other developments, in Europe at least, are that Apple has approved a Spotify app, which means you can now get music onto your Itouch/Iphone devices from places other than Apple. A lot has been written about how major this is. Its not. Not really. For quite sometime we have been able to buy music from Emusic, Amazon and many others and place it on our Ipods and Itouch devices. So this is just a wee bit different as its an integrated app, and hence feels much more embedded into the device.

Maybe Im pushing for Apple to move into a space they will never move into, but whether it be the tablet or new functionality for the Itouch and Ipod range, I feel that at some point they will have to embrace music interactivity. Its not as if they are unaware of it, Garage Band is a key free product with their Macs, but perhaps they have not yet joined up the dots and seen its value as a lifestyle element for their lifestyle products as well as their computers.

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