Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Singing a new tune

Two years ago, a planned visit to MacWorld was called off when one or two of our partners changed their minds at the cost of our registration fees. Ah well. At the time, analysts were hoping a new iMac would boost sales and revitalize Apple. Of course, the iPod which was released just after 9/11, was already causing ripples. But it hadn’t yet reached the feeding frenzy we’re seeing today.

Apple's foray into the consumer electronics market was an untypical shift in company policies, but it has certainly paid off in a big way for the ever inventive CEO Steve Jobs. Today the world’s singing to Jobs’ tune. Heck, Steve Jobs is convinced “iPod is clearly changing the way we enjoy our music, much the way the Sony Walkman did decades ago.

He’s probably right. Back when the first Walkman broke through an otherwise lifeless era in consumer electronics, I was proudly wearing its clunky headphones to work. Figures show IPod holds 31% of the global MP3 player market. In terms of revenue, this translates into 55% of global share. More figures:
Number of iPod units sold since launch: 10 million
Number of iPod units sold in the last quarter: 4.5 million (doubling previous quarter)
Number of iTunes songs dowloaded: 230 million
These numbers are mighty impressive. But according to a recent Forbes tech report, household penetration of MP3 players (all brands) is still low. Seems it’s the least popular of consumer electronics product, and trailing DVDs in units sold by a wide margin. Competing MP3 manufacturers won’t be sitting on their hands for sure, and Forbes columnist Arik Hesseldahl thinks the stage is set for a price war. Consumers like myself are saying, bring it on.

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