More Apple

The loyalty of the Apple cult is magnficent to behold. Presidents and Popes and every brand alive should wish for such devotion. I complained about Apple’s iPod rollouts and the Knights of the Round Dial came out in force, as always.

To answer some of them: The issue here is that some loyal Apple fans spent their hard-earned money to buy Nanos when, if they had known the new product was coming out, they would have preferred to get that. But now they can’t because all the hard-earned money is gone. And that is no way to treat your best customers.

Apple knew it was coming out with the video iPod when it came out with the Nano; sorry, guys, but I don’t buy that this was sudden divine inspiration made flesh/plastic/chrome. And don’t tell me that the rumor mill should be counted on as a source of information; it flip-flopped — and if they had gotten it right, Apple would have sued them.

I’m also unhappy that I bought a Treo 650 and had to commit to two years on Sprint — for me and my family — when they later came out with the Treo 700 with EVDO. But considering the considerable amount of time between those products, I am assuming that when the 650 came out, they were not sure when and whether the 700 would follow, having to not only do technical work to make high-speed happen but also make deals with Microsoft and Verizon. I made my choice.

But Apple knew full well they’d have two products coming out and I hope this was not a cynical act just to pump the quarter’s sales at the cost of customer happiness. For if you keep doing that, you won’t keep your customers’ fervent loyalty forever. Your crusaders are armed and can turn on you.

I’m not turning on Apple. I love my Nano and would’t have bought the video iPod. That’s not true for others and they feel let down today.

But I still do with I had a damned forward-delete key.

  • http://www.tomrafteryit.net/views/ Tom Raftery

    Function + Backspace = forward delete

    At least it works on my PowerBook!

    HTH,

    Tom

  • http://marginalizingmorons.blogspot.com/ CaptiousNut

    Jeff, please don’t buy any more technological devices.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    I’d be a lot happier if function + backspace = eject and i could use that juicy eject button in its prime real estate to delete!

  • Skate

    The Nano and the Video iPod are different product categories! You are actually complaining about Apple offering too many choices and too many great products.

    There are plenty of real reasons to dis Apple over iPods:

    Short warranty periods. Not providing software enabled feature updates for existing iPod owners. Lack of gapless playback. DRM’d content that you can’t re-sell–making your investment literally worthless. Easily broken LCD screens Apple won’t fix–even if you offer to pay huge sums of money. Roach Motel feature: music goes in but doesn’t come out (synch is only to iPod–you can’t recover your music from your iPod using iTunes).

    Your complaints are misplaced.

  • Mike G

    You woould have bought a Video iPod? But don’t you know that the iPod Neural will come out next year? Wait! Never buy, wait!

    >DRM’d content that you can’t re-sell–making your investment literally worthless.

    Since when was recorded music an investment? I can’t resell a movie I watched in a movie theater, or a meal I ate. Food is worthless!

    >Roach Motel feature: music goes in but doesn’t come out

    That was the only way the music industry would accept the iPod as a music playing, rather than a music trading, device. Complain if you like but I can’t blame them there.

  • http://www.daves-not-here.net David Earney

    I had two points to make when I opened this comment window. The first has already been addressed by Skate.

    The second is that gadgets are constantly changing. I recently upgraded my Canon EOS 10D to a Canon EOS 20D only to hear Canon’s announcement less than a month later that the full frame format Canon EOS 5D would be released. Was I frustrated? Yes. Was I upset? Yes. Did I realize that Canon has it in their best corporate interest to continue selling technology that they will outmode until the last possible moment without warning the consumer? Yes.

    Jeff, the simple fact of the matter here is that products sitting on store shelves must be sold. The companies that produce them cannot afford to make 6-month in advance pronouncements about what is coming without losing money in vast quantities because they have a huge customer base who then decide to wait.

    Of course, there is alwo the very accurate point that the Nano is dramatically different then the iPod video. Personally, I have an iPod Photo, and I’m still considering the Nano just because it doesn’t have moving parts.

  • Berry

    You know what grinds Jarvis’ gears?

    The fact that companies actually find selling products just a tiny bit more important than Building Relationships With Customers and Listening In To The Conversation.

    I know, sarcasm is easy. But we can expect Jeff Jarvis to come up with an alternative to the current policy regarding product announcements. Is there any? Should the iPod Nano and the Video iPod have been anounced simultaneously? If so, say so. We all sympathize with your son, Jeff, but you should be able to come up with something more sophisticated.

  • b

    No one has really addressed the central issue at hand. Part of this is due to Jeff’s original provacative headline and subsequent dwelling on the “apple cult” responses, which were mostly anything but.

    Jeff’s point is that companies should be giving customer’s notice about upcoming products, especially when they’re buying. The idea is that a company should always, ALWAYS, keep the customer’s best intersests at heart.

    The typcial response has been that this is impossible, as why should companies essentially forfeit profit and “betray” their shareholders.

    The bottom line is don’t screw with people’s money, especially when they’re giving it to your company. This is good, but I tend to agree that it’s pretty impossible for most companies to do that and it’s probably virtually impossible for any company to switch to such a mentality.

    Apple, with Steve Jobs, is one of those companies that could do that. In light of the iPod and new video iPod, and more importantly, the video iPod’s new markets, it might be prudent for Apple to switch to that mentality. Sure they make mostly great products, and their brand loyalty is pretty high, but they’re going to have lots of competition in this video market and with music companies already chomping at the bit to charge more, while Apple refuses to do so, other companies have an automatic in.

    But what if Apple was known as that company that went the extra mile to make sure that the customer’s money was well spent based on the customer’s needs? Combine that with Apple’s current loyalty and they’d be the Tony Soprano of these new markets.

    Food for thought.

  • b

    You know what grinds Jarvis’ gears?

    The fact that companies actually find selling products just a tiny bit more important than Building Relationships With Customers and Listening In To The Conversation.

    I’m betting that Jeff believes the BRWC & LITTC as ways for companies to sell MORE products and make MORE money. LOT’S more.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Right you are, b.
    Dell ruined its relationship with me and will never sell me anything again. Or others.
    Apple has a great relationship with its public and sells lots of things as a result. But that is fragile (the fervency of its defenders’ defense notwithstanding). Look at newspapers, who thought they owned trust and woke up today to discover that the don’t. Trust has to be earned every day.
    What is a brand but trust?

  • http://www.apple.com John Smith

    Jeff,

    If you get a keyboard (i.e. don’t work off a PowerBook), there is a “delete” key under F14 which does forward delete. Working off a full size keyboard is good when you’re not on the road… from an ergonomic standpoint. You don’t want the dreaded journalist “hunt and peck hunch” after all ;-)

    As for the Video iPod — obviously Apple knew about the product 5 weeks ago. The issue is, if they were not fully ready for production, and Apple couldn’t get them in the channel, there’s no way they’re going to announce them. That could cost them tens of millions of dollars or more because Apple zealot fans would stop buying full-size iPods, cold. Which would mean they would have been 1 million iPods short of Wall Street’s “100 billion iPods or bust” prediction (or whatever it was) instead of only 100,000 short, and the stock would have taken a 50% hit instead of a 10% hit, because Apple ‘only’ announced their most profitable quarter and year in history, instead of blowing it out ;-)

  • elmegil

    So Jeff:

    Many years ago, Osborne Computers went out of business, in large part because they announced the NEXT product which was 6 months down the pike and it was SO cool that nobody bought anything for two quarters while they waited for it. Since they went out of business, it actually never did. EVER since then EVERY technology company has lived in fear of doing the same thing.

    Even if such fears would be overblown on Apple’s part (it looks like less than a quarter between products, they aren’t particularly close to going out of business right now), this is SOP for all tech companies. Get used to it.

  • Skate

    Jeff wrote, “Apple has a great relationship with its public and sells lots of things as a result..Trust has to be earned every day.
    What is a brand but trust?”

    I’d agree. I just think that Apple has much more serious issues than failing to telegraph its future product releases. As someone who bought a mac 2 weeks before Macworld (I knew better) and a 40 gig 3G a month before the 4G came out, I understand the disappointment in buying the old product. But Apple’s arrogance–their hubris, perhaps–is what I think Apple’s real problem is.

    Apple is very poor about admitting problems with its products. Apple is so busy making things look pretty that that ignore ergonomics. Just look at the touch pad on a powerbook. It is centered to be aesthetically pleasing, but your hands on a keyboard’s home-keys are not centered on the computer which can put your right palm on the touch pad. Its just one of many examples of form over function. And the software interface is annoying, too. I really want to be able to copy efficently between folders and disks without having to open multiple windows–as I can in any version of MS Windows.

    Apple’s arrogance is in full swing on its message boards. Complaints are ruthlessly modded and often disappear altogether.

    Apple’s upgrades free upgrades–when availible–often hurt the consumer. Free quicktime 7? Great, but if you install it erases the Quicktime Pro features you paid extra for in Quicktime and you have to buy Quicktime Pro all over again. Or there’s iLife (iDVD, iMovie, etc.) When Apple changed its DRM in iTunes it broke the compatibility of iMovie to use iTunes Music store songs. The solution? A free upgrade like the free iTunes upgrade that broke the software in the first place? No! You had to buy the new version of iLife!

    Jeff, I think that Apple should offer to credit people who bought iPods or computers within 2 weeks of the announcement–and they do. You can return your iPod within the return period, though there is a restocking fee. But I really feel that you are harping on Apple for trivial reasons and that you should look deeper at serious customer issues. I’m rooting for mac to succeed because MS is an ‘evil’ monopoly, but I think there is more than a glimmer of ‘evil’ in Apple as well.

  • http://www.horsepigcow.com Tara ‘Miss Rogue’ Hunt

    I just know that I’m super happy that when I went to the Apple store, they were all out of the 4Gig Nano. ‘Cause if I had bought it, I would be kicking the heck out of myself right now.

    I don’t see the Nano and the Video iPod as two totally different products. The Nano replaced nothing. I have iPod Mini, which at 6 Gigs minus the colour screen, still more than suits the purpose of what it’s supposed to do. The Nano, then, was an irrational, but beautiful machine for me to run out and buy, which would have trumped my purchasing of the video iPod (I have a wee budget for such frivolties). Thus, the two fall into the same budget line for me, and according to many analysts and discussions yesterday, I’m not alone (when I got home last night, my husband and son were talking about the news programs interviewing people on the street who were ticked that they bought the Nano).

    I’m not angry at iPod, but I do think it’s a dirty game that these technology companies play. It plays into our Paradox of Choice (Schwartz) and leaves us feeling like schmucks for making the wrong decision. They should have let everyone enjoy their Nanos for at least 6 months before making them feel like fools.

    There is a lesson in this, though…think before you buy. If you think you really really want something, sleep on it. If you still feel the same way after a week or two, buy it. Once again, my mom was right.

    T.

  • Skate

    T. wrote “I’m not angry at iPod, but I do think it’s a dirty game that these technology companies play. It plays into our Paradox of Choice (Schwartz) and leaves us feeling like schmucks for making the wrong decision. They should have let everyone enjoy their Nanos for at least 6 months before making them feel like fools.”

    The dirty game is played by **us** being unsatisfied by what we have already. The real shame of the new product releases is not that new products are available but that Apple doesn’t properly support their existing customer base. Want a good case for your 2G or 3G iPod from the Apple store? Forget it. Only new iPod accessories are sold there. Bug patches or software feature upgrades for existing customers? Almost none. Simple features that could be fixed through software updates (such as the allowing 3G owners to speed up audio books) are available on the the 4G+ models. Don’t get mad at Apple for improving their product–get mad at them for ignoring existing customer’s needs in order to boost hardware sales.

    MS and Sony are breathing down Apple’s neck, just waiting for a slip up. MS wants nothing less than world domination of DRMd media–really. Apple has to keep moving.

  • Mike G

    Mind you, Jeff is bitching about a company that announced a change to its computing platform a YEAR ahead of its release, if not more, and was willing to take a year’s hit on sale of its current products rather than let the rumors fly as developers geared up for a still-secret change.

    Would anyone care to show me a comparable example of such forthrightness from Microsoft, Sony, or any other company? (No, promising the next version of Windows doesn’t count, that’s a tactical move designed to keep the share price up and encourage people to think of their current machines as obsolete.)

  • Joe Schmo

    given all the ads all over your site, you are hardly one to point fingers at the ethics of economic strategies. Maybe you are just trying to ream on big buzzword companies to get your site visits up? Dell, Apple…..Google must be next.

  • Tim

    I’m sorry, but this is totally ridiculous. Apple is under no obligation of any kind to notify its customers in advance; it is the responsibility of customers to decide if they like something, knowing full well that technology is one of the fastest-changing areas with new products announced each day.

    As others have said, the nano and the video iPod are not the same product — they have different storage sizes and specs. If you have a music library that fills up an iPod, you CAN’T use a nano in the same way; you have to choose which songs fit on it.

    I agreed with you (Jeff) on Dell, but this unreasonable complaint is undermining your credibility. You are flat-out wrong and if Apple — the best tech support company in the field, acc. to Consumer Reports — even remotely listened to you, I’d advise selling one’s shares.

  • Justin

    I really want to be able to copy efficently between folders and disks without having to open multiple windows–as I can in any version of MS Windows.

    1. Highlight the files you want to copy, hit Command-C.
    2. Go to the destination folder or disk.
    3. Hit Command-V.

    I’m no Windows pro, but does it somehow know what folder or disk you want to copy to without you telling it?

  • Snarker

    That bit about rumor sites is right out. You’ll note that since they sued ThinkSecret, ThinkSecret’s reporting went straight into speculation. They’ve not been accurate about anything specific since their inside source was revealed. And since that time, they have not sued any rumor sites for any reason.

    In short, Apple will only sue rumor sites when they violate Apple’s trade secret rights, *NOT* when they act in accordance with the law.

    Now, if you want to advocate lawlessness because you’re mad at Apple for behaving like a smart business, go right ahead.

  • Mike

    Jeff, stop being such a damn crybaby! You’re way offbase on this little immature tirade. Grow up already. Bottomline for businesses is to make money and you don’t make money by announcing breakthrough devices weeks and/or months before they are available. It’s sales suicide. How can you not see that?

    Apple wasn’t out to screw those who recently bought their products and they in no way should cater to the likes of you who get upset when their newest gizmo becomes obsolete by the latest release. This sort of thing has been happening for decades. Sometimes you’re just unlucky, as your son just was.

  • Michael

    If you bought the Nano, you obviously didn’t care about having 20/40/60GB storage. You likely wanted a) a smaller form factor or b) something under $300.

    Why would Nano buyers not want to pay more money for something bigger and storage they don’t need?

  • Michael

    oops, that should say “Why would Nano buyers now want to pay more money for something bigger and storage they don’t need?

  • http://www.elflife.com/cgi-bin/txt.cgi/ Carson Fire

    The loyalty of the Apple cult is magnficent to behold.

    It’s not a matter of being cultist (I’m on Windows, anyway), it’s simply a bad argument to natter about how a company announces new products.

    1. Your old stuff is still going to become obsolete one way or another.
    2. The company has the most to lose by mistiming an announcement. It won’t serve its customers well by hobbling themselves with a premature announcement.
    3. Apple users are not “cultists”, they are fanatics. They are fans of Apple, but do not accept everything blindly, and they have punished Apple for bad products and practices in the past. My Apple fanatic roomie’s response to hearing JJ’s complaint was “Whaaaaaaaaat???” This is a complaint that is not on the radar of most Apple fans.
    4. Those of us who can’t afford iPods in the first place are reeeeeaaally crying about this.
    5. Your son should have kept his receipt.
    5a. There’s always eBay.

    Oh, and

    6. *Everybody* should be glad that the announcement didn’t turn out to be the rumored pink Madonna complete collection iPod.

  • http://360.yahoo.com/carl_setzer Carl

    Hmmm, what obligation does a company have to engage its customers/potential customers? That’s pretty tough, but Apple has been rather brutal at times. The way Apple released the vPod is in keeping with the way they’ve done a number of releases. Apple seems to understand their market pretty well (they weathered the grumbling about OS X upgrades nicely) and has done a remarkable job at maximizing it. Perhaps the bigger question is whether they “screwed” their customers, or a few of them?

    Jobs and co seem to prefer to release products when it is in the distribution channel. Are they nefariously preventing canabalization of their inventory or wanting to meet customer demand (gain a maximum profit for hype)? Hard to say; probably a bit of both.

  • Mike G

    Read this for a picture of how Apple really is announcing these things on a just-in-time schedule:

    http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1320

  • DF

    Jeff, the tendency for journalists and bloggers to play the “Mac cultists” card is unfortunate to begin with — it’s basically an insult to a big chunk of readers right out of the gate, telling them that you don’t respect their views, no matter how well-reasoned those views are.

    It’s especially disappointing when the “cultists” accusation is not at all applicable. I work in this industry, so I interact fairly regularly with people at both extremes of the pro/anti-Mac spectrum. But I’ve read the comments in both threads on this topic, and for the most part those comments have been reasonable, logical, and fair. They also happen to be critical of your position. That doesn’t necessarily make them “Apple cultists”; it just means that a good number of people disagree with you on this one.

  • tony

    Reminds me of the time I bought this new car, and then, like 8 months later, a NEW MODEL came out. Damn capitalists….

  • Heather Green

    I just want to say, what a beautiful turn of phrase, Jeff! Knights of the Round Dial….I meant to write when i saw it yesterday, but better late than never.

  • http://lg-domain.blogdrive.com/ leon

    Jeff: I think branding everyone who thinks you’re making something out of nothing as “Knights of the round dial” is more than a little childish. Get a grip dude, everyone knows Apple love to update and upgrade their product line every few months. Only a fool would buy an iPod and expect them to be the new hot thing forever!

  • Michael

    Pretty simple: the nano & video ipods are two entirely different products for entirely different markets and user needs. Its like saying you’re upset that Burger King offered a new triple-cheese-burger right after you bought your small salad. Sure they’re both marketed to those who like to go to Burger King to eat, but they serve different types of needs.

    My guess is that you’ll buy your son the video ipod for x-mas anyway…..

  • Hank Gordon

    “Roach Motel feature: music goes in but doesn’t come out (synch is only to iPod–you can’t recover your music from your iPod using iTunes)”

    You can transfer music from one computer to another using your iPod. There was an article about it in PC World at this address: http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,122094,pg,10,00.asp#moveMusic
    I’ve done it, and it works perfectly. Your iPod is basically a huge detachable drive.

    Enjoy!

  • Free iPod

    Nice Blog. Check this out, you can get a free iPod

  • http://keshertalk.com/ Yehudit

    Early adopters are taking a risk, that’s why most people aren’t early adopters. Me, I wait until I can buy the thing on eBay. Usually takes 6 months to get a decent price. I’ve bought two Apple computers on eBay, 2 minidisc recorders, a laser printer, software…..

  • h0mi

    Like I said in my other comment, why did apple feel it was necessary to announce 2 different ipod models a month apart? Obviously with Christmas coming an announcement makes sense, and I don’t think the Nano announcement “screwed” people who bought a 2nd gen mini earlier this year. But 2 announcements barely a month apart?

  • Skate

    Hank wrote, “You can transfer music from one computer to another using your iPod.”

    Yes, but not via **Apple’s iTunes.** Apple doesn’t want you to copy songs from your iPod to your computer. The fact that you can do this now using non-Apple software could change literally any minute as Apple works to please the **AA monopolies by tightening its Rights Management. Already, Apple has clamped down on the local network iTunes Music sharing and reduced the number of computers that can play shared music–even if it is music that is public domain or CC licensed.

    You can’t count on Apple’s “largess.”