Opinion: Apple is devaluing itself by selling off dirt-cheap iPod Shuffles

Columns & Opinion, iPod, MP3 players

PodShuff.jpgJonathan Weinberg writes…

In the race to be the best, and capture the masses, cool firms often make one crucial mistake – lowering their standards so far that eventually it backfires. Apple’s decision this week to make an iPod Shuffle available for just £32 strikes me as being one of those.

There’s no doubt the US giant is one of the coolest companies in the tech sphere. It makes products that look good and have you salivating over them. Who else could have produced the ultra-thin MacBook Air?

But by pricing the 1GB Shuffle so cheap, are Apple not in danger of making themselves far too popular for their own good? An iPod used to be something you desired, something pricier than most other options on the market but like with any big-name brand, you paid more to have that moniker on your gadget.

Why would anyone want a 1GB Shuffle anyway, when you can buy a 2GB for just £10 more? The simple solution would have been to discontinue the one-gig and replace it with the affordable two-gig, thus retaining the premium price around the Apple brand.

The £45 mark is roughly what the 1GB version cost and slashing it so drastically is obviously good news for the consumer. The cheaper we pay for our tech, the better our wallets and bank manager feels.

I really don’t see the value in this decision though. How long before these are being given away for less than £20? As technology improves, and memory storage rates lower, the best way to hold on to the brand-power and premium factor that Apple have is to give us more, for less.

Giving us the same for less just cheapens the range and puts the gorgeous little Shuffle up there with the cheap and nasty throwaway MP3s that are littering the shelves of so many stores right now.

What do you think? Are bargain-basement Apple devices a good idea? Post a comment below…

Jonathan Weinberg
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  • by making the park free, the city risked becoming far too popular for its own good!

    jonathan, your logic is disgusting; it’s seriously shameful. you want a good life for yourself, but not everyone. you want to feel special, while some people, some SPECIFIC people, whom you fear, continue to live lives that feel “cheap and nasty.” you aren’t special in the slightest–you are, however, especially revolting. i took the time to write this though, so i guess there’s some feeling special in that.

  • Okay, here are a few counter points:

    1. Apple products have to be more expensive, but not overtly so. It is about peoples perception – the shuffles direct competitor is Creatives Zen Stone which even after Apples price cut is still some 40% cheaper. The difference should not be more than that.

    2. By not being (at least a little) competitive in this price segment, Apple would be opening the door for their competitors to gain some traction in the market.

    3. In a market that is nearing saturation Apple can only expand their customer base into a consumer group that is not as highly motivated to invest a lot in a music player. The lower price will be a great help here.

    4. The value of getting, say, a couple of millions more customers into the iTunes Store should not be overlooked. And a part of these new costumers are going to get hooked and upgrade their iPod. Meaning even more revenue for Apple.

    5. It is obvious from looking at the Shuffle that it is a tiny, unpretentious player, not a full-featured iPod. It won’t detract value from the larger iPods.

    And finally, the new price allows you to buy it as a gift for your friends, other than the closest ones. I have a Shuffle myself and I continue to admire how it feels like a piece of jewelery. It is such a classy little thing. I actually enjoy the thought of the millions of people that are going to have that same feeling of “Wow, neat!”

  • I see little reason to be concerned over this unless
    1) You hold Apple stock
    2) You’re overly materialistic, the things you tell people you own actually own you, and name brands rule your life.

    If you don’t fit into either category, that’s awfully sad.

  • It doesn’t cheapen the image of Apple because there are other high end models in in their stable.
    It’s a great marketing move and the message that gets across is it’s inexpensive but backed by a great and cool brand and a great trojan too to get to people who have not tasted Apple yet (pun intended).

  • This is a smart move by Apple, this can be a loss leader for them. Where they sacrifice some profit on the player by lowering cost of the 1GB Shuffle, then they hope to make profit in the downloading of music from the iTunes store. Then once new owners figure out how easy the iTunes experience is, they will in turn upgrade to a iPod. Don’t forget that a whole lot of people want the cheapest mp3 player they can get their grubby hands on. Price was the main reason my first mp3 player was not an Apple product. Now with this price drop Apple will cut into the business of those low-end mp3 players.

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