Catching up again

Boy am I lazy…

Here are some stories you probably missed. They’re from over the last several months, if that’s any indication (once again) of how far behind I am on my postings. Remember — shiny new administration system means faster turnaround time to you.

iPod Video: You know, for kids!

The iPod Video, mentioned in many places by now, has been the talk of the town. Ok, maybe not the town, but at least the music industry is drooling over. Apple is in a unique position right now. They rule the high end MP3 player market, and they have no intent of giving it up. The only problem is they’re running out of market, and the low-end MP3 players are getting better and cheaper.

Apple, however, is not changing course. They need rich people to buy iPods and iTunes and eventually trade up to iMacs and PowerBooks to make up for the lack of profitability on iPods and iTunes. And poor people can’t afford iPods, much less a computer to hook it up to, an Internet connection, iTunes songs, or even a bus ticket out of New Orleans. Hence, there’s only one viable market left.

Kids.

Kids watch MTV, music videos, listen to music, talk about music… They’re a music marketer’s dream. Kids also have time to watch these videos — riding on buses, getting driven around town by their parents, at recess, and so on. And the first iPod video sales will certainly include music videos. Hence, Apple will now start marketing the hell out of the iPod video to youngsters, hoping to make it the next cool thing for them to have. Even though kids can’t afford iPod Videos, their parents can, and Apple will bank on that for the success of their new gadget.

Remember two things about this. First, Apple will need one hell of a pricing strategy to make this work. Bundle the video, a few songs, and maybe extra stuff together (interviews, exclusive music, etc) to encourage kids to buy those videos. Second, convert the kids to Apple so when they get a computer for college or can afford a computer of their own, they buy Apple. Yes, Apple is about to start brainwashing a generation of our youth to buy Apple. And you thought they were a good company… (I say our youth because the iPod has only been a hit in the US, UK, and Japan. Everywhere else in the world, they’re struggling against (better) cheap Korean and Chinese players.)

Since iPods are an audio medium, they don’t take up much attention while walking around. Watching videos, however, absorbs much more of your attention. This attention-grabbing doesn’t prevent people from walking and texting at the same time, but it will be interesting to watch how peoples’ behavior changes when using an iPod Video given the norms of activities that can be done while walking. What I mean is that we’ve already got handheld game systems, portable TVs, PDAs, and other devices that presumably can be used while walking around but people don’t use them whether because of social norms of walking, fear of having it stolen, or fear of tripping and breaking the incredibly expensive device when you step off the curb that you weren’t watching because you were paying attention to Eminem’s latest release on your iPod Video. Can the iPod Video buck that trend?

MS and IBM settled

In a story that didn’t get near enough attention, Microsoft and IBM settled their lawsuit regarding MS’s antitrust violations harming IBM’s OS/2 sales. Included in this is $775 million in damages a $75 million credit of MS software for IBM, which I can only hope they use to turn Windows CDs into frisbees.

Now why would they settle? Easy. They both have some dirt to hide about the breakup. Remember when IBM and MS were in cahoots with each other? They were going to develop compatible next-generation operating systems and everyone was going to be happy, right? Nope, they parted ways and IBM was left to eat MS dust. I’m certain there’s something in those moments that neither company wants to have aired in court, and so we’ll never find out what really happened that caused the breakup of these giants. Keep in mind that in two years IBM can sue MS for damages done to IBM hardware sales, which will result in another settlement from which we will learn nothing about their short lived marriage.

Baptists mend their differences… with Disney?

In the surprise story of the year, the Southern Baptist Convention called off its boycott of Disney. Said one Disney executive, "Someone was boycotting us? For eight years? I didn’t even notice." From one of the chairmen of the Southern Baptist Convention, "We fought a good fight, and we know our boycott was responsible for Disney’s lackluster performance in their releases of Mulan, Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis, Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, and Home on the Range. And Test Track at Epcot. But not Lilo and Stitch. That was a good movie." One seven year old Baptist boy said, "Now I can see all those cartoons and learn why those Disney Satanists are going to hell." Kid, for that you only need to look as far as the censored lines from Alladin.

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