iPod Shuffle: The new Official Cool

    January 12, 2005

This could be a no-brainer decision for anyone (like me, for instance) contemplating getting a digital music player – get an iPod Shuffle.

Launched this week at Macworld in San Francisco, the iPod Shuffle is a USB flashdrive-based player that costs just $99 for the one with 512 megs capacity and $149 for the one-gig model. It weighs less than an ounce, comes with those nice little white iPod earbuds, 12-hour battery life, holds up to 240 songs (or lots of podcasts)… this is indeed cool, even though it can’t support playlists (which might be the one off-putter for some people). But it carries the iPod brand name, so what does a little playlist or two matter?

Michael Gartenberg at Jupiter Research has a simple success analysis:

“[…] This is a good move for Apple and it’s already causing heartburn for a lot of execs at companies doing flash based players. Some will call it high priced for a device with no display but the capacity and the form factor are excellent for the money. […] Apple has declared $99 iPods are cool and that message will resonate with the masses. It gives reason for the most price sensitive parts of the market to enter the iPod camp and allows Apple to have a family of products at prices up and down the spectrum. […] At the moment, everyone is oohing and aahing them. No such reaction at CES for other flash players. iPod is still the brand to beat here and even with the choices offered by the Windows based technology, consumers are still choosing iPods in a big way.”

If you’re looking to buy one, he says it even better here:

“When you’re a making a comparison of the iPod Shuffle to other devices like this one, be sure you ask two questions.

  1. Does the device you’re comparing it to have a $99 price point?
  2. Is the [device] you’re comparing it to called “iPod”?

Apple has now made $99 flash players officially cool.”

Walt Mossberg has a good review in the Wall Street Journal today.

One very disappointing thing, though. I see on the Apple Netherlands website that the iPod Shuffle is being advertised here at 99 (that’s 99 euros). That makes it the equivalent of about $130 at current exchange rates.

A $30 price differential on a $99 product? Apple, you’ve taken away quite a bit of the cool for European fans.

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.