Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

It all started some four years ago. A device was designed and was heralded and was widely considered the bext hunk of plastic and metal since the four-slice toaster. This device was revised and much improved three times over the following years, and alas, it had attained perfection. The only way to make it better was to make it cheaper; over time, production costs would lower as they always do and they could lower the cost of this perfect divice and allow many more people to bathe in its glory (as the price tag, though not overly high, was just outside the budget of many middle-class people). And this happened. The cost of producing this device was well under the price tag, and so profit margins were much higher than predicted.

This device is, of course, the Apple iPod. By it's fourth generation, it was perfect. I suppose the harddrive could be improved, or the battery life, but every device could use those improvements. But then when Apple decided to give its customers a break, they only gave customers with big pockets a break. They introduced iPod photo. It had three times the storage space and a color screen. You could view photos stored on the harddrive with it, but with a 2" screen and a $600 sticker (indeed, most of whom that could afford one casually probably already had a digital camera and/or cameraphone anyway, which can take pictures as well as view them), it was mostly a gimmicky cash draw. Okay, as useless as this was, the perfection-embodied black-and-white 20GB model was still offered, so let the baby have her bottle. iPod photo was not as big a mistake (in my opinion, 'cause these mistakes prevent me from owning one) as the following two.

Apple gave, again, people a break. This time they targeted existing potential iPod (base model) buyers, by giving the base model a color screen. Hmm... Let's see... Color screen is more expensive, base model stayed at the same price, therefore the base model with b&w screen should've cost less... Yes, it should have. But it didn't. Apple never brought in any new buyers, only gave potential buyers a gimmicky incentive that they wouldn't have any use for anyway.

And again, another break. Again, no lowering of price, but the new components definately cost more. These include a bigger, higher resolution, more refreshed screen; a bigger standard harddrive (30GB), a slightly smaller form factor, longer battery life, and Firewire support removed completely. All this makes each iPod cost about as much extra as they became cheaper to produce. Again, Apple could've brought in many new customers by making the iPod more affordable but they didn't. And so I still don't got one.

I reckon that, were Apple to reintroduce the black & white 20GB 4G iPod, it would retail for probably $250. With education discount, I could get an iPod for $342 Cdn, and I'd say that the high-def screen and other improvements tally $100 or so. The only thing is, the iPod Nano 4GB goes for $281, after the same discount. But I guess Apple has to make some incentive for their superfluous device (the smaller size of Mini/Nano is not worth the small price difference, especially considering the comparatively little storage space).

Alright, so this is what I call a "rant". Basically, all my entries will take one of a few forms. They may be psychosocialogical consequences of simple Physics (or any other science) concepts, such as the previous post. I might go on a spiel about companies disappointing me or impressing me. A humerous anecdote from time to time. Or maybe something completely different. What I won't do is talk about me. That will be over on my personal blog, and that tends to get boring.

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