The No-Video Nano

My Brother wrote to me on Facebook:

I really don’t get the new Nano. Do you? [My daughter] has the old Nano and she can watch movies on it, with the new one you can’t. Why do you need multitouch to press play and next? I seriously don’t get what Apple was thinking.

A fair question. Not only could you watch video, you could take video. The new nano: not even close.

My answer is that the iPod ain’t what it used to be. Not in a nostalgic way, but in terms of what Apple thinks of it. The notorious Andy Zaky wrote an interesting piece about how the traditional iPod is becoming less and less important to Apple’s revenue growth. He also argues, like me, that the iPod is an entry to the world of Apple.

The big change has been the iPhone. Back in 2007, the “normal” iPod was about the size of an iPhone, had a click wheel, and played video at a starting price of $249. The iPod Nano that came out that year also had a click wheel and video, but a smaller screen and only 4 or 8 GBs for $149 and $199 respectively. Apple is pretty careful about maintaining their price points for their target customers, and even the most recent Nano refresh keeps those same price points. However, at the same event where they announced this Nano, they introduced the iPod touch starting at $299. So back then, $149 got you into an iPod with a screen and video, and for double that amount, you could get into an iPod with multitouch, video, and some lame basic, pre-installed apps.

The iPod touches now are WAY better: Apps, games, Hi-Def video recording, Face Time, gyro, amazing display, AND starting at only $229. That is twenty bucks LESS than the iPod Classic. So now a marginal $80 gets you an upgrade from a Nano to an iPod touch. A jump to be sure, but from an 8 GB iPod Nano, the $20 jump is basically trivial.

What I am saying is that iPod Nano is an entry level product, and one that is primarily still for music, and targeted at a younger (maybe as young as my brother’s daughter) audience. That means that nowadays, the Nano more about appearances that features. Multi touch doesn’t get you anything on the nano really. There is no reason, other than being able to get it small and get rid of the buttons, to have multitouch. But being small and getting rid of the buttons means visibility. That’s why they put a clip on it, and why it is the ONLY Apple product to come in colors.

When my boss saw the new Nano, he said “Imagine the subways in Asia. You are going to see those Nanos everywhere. They are going to sell a lot of those things.” And I think he is right. The old iPod ads used to be about the music – you could barely even see the iPod itself. More recently, the image is all about the image. And multitouch is cool. Kids will love just flicking around and feeling like their parents who have real multitouch devices.

So what was Apple thinking? I think it is all about introducing people, especially younger people, to their super cool products so as they grow up, they buy-up. The Nano is no longer the best selling iPod. If you want video, buy-up, or throw up.

By the way, Have you seen the stats about college freshmen laptop purchases? I mean, when the iPod debuted, these kids were about 8 years old. I’m just sayin….

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