The real news from Apple’s announcement today

With the rampant rumors about today’s Apple announcement being solely focused on the iTunes/Motorola phone (and that Cingular would be the sole provider), there was alot of disappointment with this minimally exciting announcement. Coupled with the rumors about an “iPhone” was speculation about the upcoming Apple Expo in Paris and why Steve Jobs cancelled his keynote — and that this event was going to be a monumentally exciting one and the buzz was quite loud. (Here’s my blog post about this iPhone from April).

The phone was rolled out. So was a new, tiny “iPod nano“. My thought? Jobs was going to rollout the iPod nano in Paris but — with all the rumors and pictures of the ROKR Motorola phone and Cingular deal already leaked all over the ‘net — he had no choice but to deliver something new and fresh at today’s event. All-in-all the buzz is pretty lukewarm.

To me, the real news came in the form of statistics on the overwhelming market share Apple enjoys. MacWorld has a recap online that spells out the following very interesting facts which I’ve added opinion around with “SB” preceding it…

  • Steve Jobs told the crowd that Apple has sold more than half a billion songs through its iTunes Music Store to date. “We are selling songs at a rate of 1.8 million songs per day,” he explained. “iTunes has an 82 percent market share here in the US.”
  • Jobs reiterated an Apple press release offered earlier today that it has 80 percent of the legitimate online music download market in the UK, and said that iTunes is doing “extremely well around the world.” There are iTunes Music Stores in 20 countries, he said, representing 85 percent of the global music market

SB: These market share numbers, while impressive, still demonstrate that there is tremendous headroom in the market (especially in other countries). Here’s what these numbers also say to me: that the acceleration in podcasting will provide a country-by-country iTunes podcast (and music) distribution system that is so simple and easy that the volume of audio content globally will explode…and Apple could potentially be in the driver’s seat. That said, Apple must discover a way to embrace the volume of other manufacturer’s of players since all would like to tap in to this momentum and the record companies do too. Of course, maybe that’s Apple’s whole point: to own digital audio distribution globally (notice I didn’t say, “music distribution globally”) along with the devices upon which to play this audio content.

  • Apple recently began supporting podcasts through iTunes, and Jobs told the crowd that the service now features more than 15,000 podcasts in its directory, growing by 1,000 per week. More than 7 million podcast subscriptions have been made to date.

    “This phenomenon is just exploding,” he said.

SB: Same point above, but Apple has the tools, the creative platform (my personal photo restoration, video editing, print production, web and ebook creation on Windows, Linux and Mac makes me credible when I say, “Nothing is easier to create on than a Macintosh”).  With all the creative products Apple has shipped for video, audio, print and imagery (and most have both consumer and pro versions), Apple stands to own the creative value chain from concept to deliverable and all the way through to the end consumption point.

  • The iTunes Music Store now has more than 2 million songs, said Jobs, and “We have just crossed 10 million accounts. And they come with credit cards.”

SB: In order to download a podcast, a person has to have an account on iTunes.Wow…what a great ready-made market! My mind also dances with the possibilities that exist for Apple to perform data mining and analytics on consumer preferences, etc., while matching it to consumer demographic profiles available with credit card profiling. What does Steve Borsch listen to? Hmmm…he’s a forty-something white guy, lives in a home worth X, married with children, loves blues and jazz, Nat’l Public Radio, loves IT Conversations, Podtech, yadda-yadda-yadda.

  • Jobs also used today’s event to unveil the first iTunes-compatible cell phone, the iTunes/Motorola ROKR phone
    .
    “You’ve probably heard about this,” Jobs said, a reference to the speculation that has run rampant prior to today’s event.The phone will automatically pause when you get a call, explained Jobs. Songs are transferred through a USB cable. Ralph de la Vega, Cingular’s Chief Operating Officer was on stage and said, “We have a vision, working with Apple and Motorola, about convergence between entertainment, computers, and communications, coming together and forming a real product,” said de la Vega. “There have been a lot of rumors about this product, but today, the talk ends and the music begins. You’re going to get your songs on your phone, anywhere you want them, any time you want them, with the world’s best music service, brought to you by Motorola and Cingular.”

SB: Yawn. Boring. If the US had a 3G or 4G network so a phone *could* play multiple roles and web surf fast, I’d be interested. I’d rather buy the new iPod nano than have my phone play a few tunes or podcasts.

  • Apple has 74 percent market share for all MP3 players as of July, he said. At the end of their last quarter, Apple had sold almost 22 million iPods, with 6.2 million sold in the June quarter alone.

SB: Again, wow. Stunningly impressive numbers and the reach for podcasters especially is incredible. People just stumbling across one’s podcast on the iTunes Music Store podcast section will mean great distribution. Though…I’m troubled by the minimalistic taxonomy (categorization) that iTunes has and there has to be a more robust channel mechanism to find relevant podcasts…and to keep schneeb’s from putting ” – ” or ” * ” in front of their podcast name to get higher in the listings. I hate that.

  • Four new automotive brands announced iPod connectivity today, according to Jobs: Honda, Honda’s upscale Acura brand, as well as European car makers Audi and Volkswagen.

    In 2006, 30 percent of all cars sold in the U.S. are going to offer iPod connectivity as an option.

SB: If there is one thing I also dislike tremendously, it’s using an FM transmitter for my iPod in my car since my mobile phone, power lines and sunspot activity (yes..it makes a difference) creates radio frequency interference that is bothersome. Having a direct line-in will be VERY useful and accelerate the quality of the listening experience.

Inquiring minds want to know though: where’s the video iPod?

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1 Comment

  1. Tim on September 9, 2005 at 7:43 am

    Great analysis, Steve. I think we will see a video ipod sometime in the first half of next year, most likely after Macworld San Francisco. The market is still not large enough for Apple to get behind yet and they have quite a bit of arm twisting to do in Hollywood for iTunes video content.

    Jobs’ Macworld “surprise” will likely be Intel-based Mac mini’s and Powerbooks.



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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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