If there was one lesson to be gleaned from Wednesday’s Apple event in San Jose, Calif., it’s this: whatever I predict, expect the opposite.
After all, I’m the guy who, just a week ago in this very space, explained patiently and with plenty of supporting evidence why Apple would never, ever think of unveiling a video-playing iPod during its October 12 media event. “Not the right time,” I said. “Steve Jobs just got done telling us all that video-playing handheld devices weren’t on the immediate horizon.”
So what does Apple do Wednesday? It unveils a video iPod. Naturally .
Stay tuned for another round of can’t-miss-predictions like “the Boston Red Sox will repeat as World Series champs” on our next episode of Ridiculously Wrong in Public!
OK, now that we’ve settled the question of whether Apple will create a video-playing iPod, let’s turn our attention to the next issue at hand: why did Apple create a video-playing iPod at this particular time. And as tempting as it might be for me to guess “Because Apple delights in making me look silly,” I’m pretty sure the company’s reasoning is stronger than that.
First off, people are going to buy one. Enough readers have said as much in our forums, and while that may or may not be representative of the market as a whole, you certainly have to assume there’s some demand for an iPod that plays video. And the iPod brand has built up enough of a cachet that consumers in the market for such a device will be willing to take a flier on something built by Apple, thanks to the not-at-all unreasonable assumption that Apple, more than any other device maker, will probably get it right. (And with the 30GB and 60GB video-capable iPods costing the same as the previous 20GB and 60GB color-screen models, it’s not like Apple is asking you to pay up for video.)
Secondly, Apple made sure that there would be content for people to download to these new iPods. With the newly announced iTunes 6, you can buy TV Shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost , animated shorts from Pixar, and music videos for $2. Will that content cause a stampede of people to their nearest Apple Store to get their hands on a new iPod. Maybe, maybe not—but for some people, that initial content (with the promise of more to come) will be incentive enough.
Finally, Apple rolled out a video iPod now because executives at the company can read a calendar and know that Christmas is a-comin’. And the reaction to Tuesday’s quarterly earnings shows, Apple needs to keep up iPod sales if it hopes to keep Wall Street happy. The company probably figures that video-playback features are the best way to do that.
Which raises a new question: will you buy one of the new iPods? I know what the answer is for me—probably not, since the green iPod mini I bought in August still has that new iPod smell—but, like wrong-headed predictions about Apple events, I reserve the right to change my mind once I hold one in my hot, little hand. Still, I’d be interested to hear how you answer that question.