Dear Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal:
The Macalope just finished reading your review of the new iPods, The New iPod: Ready for Battle?
(subscription only) (thanks to Brian in comments for a non-subscription link), and as a follower of iPod punditry, he was confused.
Next month marks the fifth anniversary of one of the most successful products of the digital era, Apple Computer’s iPod music player. Since 2001, potential iPod-killers have come and gone like autumn foliage. Apple claims an astonishing 76% market share in the U.S. for the iPod and an equally amazing 88% share of the U.S. legal music download market for its companion iTunes online store. Over 60 million iPods and 1.5 billion songs have been sold.
Well, yes, but where’s the reference to how iPod sales fell leading up to the day before the Showtime event? Clearly the devastating decline from Apple’s monstrous first fiscal quarter right up to the announcement of new models means the iPod is doomed. You should look into that.
But, Walt, that’s not the only place where you drop the ball of conventional iPod punditry. You mention the Zune and RealNetworks’ forthcoming player as potential threats, but then just launch into your iPod review.
Still, this autumn, the iPod could face its greatest challenge. Microsoft, after failing for years to combat the iconic gadget, will launch a new assault Nov. 14 with a player called Zune.
Not only that, but this week, RealNetworks’ Rhapsody music service, the best of the iTunes competitors, will announce its own player, jointly developed with SanDisk, which is the second-place player maker, albeit a distant second.
So, this holiday season Apple has made some of the biggest changes to the iPod and iTunes in years.
No, no, no. Walt, Walt, Walt, this won’t do at all. You devote the rest of the article to reviewing actual features of iPods you can currently buy. That’s simply not how it’s done.
The Macalope shall elucidate.
Take a look at Vic Keegan, Sven Rafferty, Kieran McCarthy and Mike Elgan. You’re supposed to parlay the fantastic but ultimately unsustainable success the iPod has had into some kind of failure – don’t forget to call falling sales growth “slipping sales”! – and breathlessly list imaginary features the Zune may one day have and ask why the iPod doesn’t have those today.
It’s impossible to know if Apple can sustain its remarkably high market shares in the face of new competition, but it is going into the battle with better products at better prices.
Walt, no! The iPod is doomed! Doomed!
And you write for one of the most respected daily newspapers in the world.
Actually, that explains a lot.