There’s a lot of smack being talked about “the next iPod killer” whether that’s the Zune, the Sansa, the next thing from iRiver… Even collectively they’re not taking ANY marketshare AWAY from Apple. They’re simply making a bigger market and that’s happening for a variety of reasons. Face it. Very few people (I know only two) refuse to own anything Apple. They’re down on the company, brand, technology, kool-aid thing. One of the guy’s old and cranky and just plain off his rocker half the time. And, the other fellows closer to my age than he is to Cranky’s… and well, he just doesn’t like anything that isn’t built from components from Fry’s. Everyone else I know is at least open to owning at least an iPod (most already do).
So, what’s the real threat here? We know Apple’s not going to stand still. The iPod platform is a moving target. But one that’s getting bigger all the time. They’ve picked up a TON of new Apple customers (for iPods, MacBooks, etc)… The truth of it is – Microsoft is probably hemhorraging customers right now. But, and this is significant, Microsoft *HAS* entered the MP3 player market with a version 1.0 Zune. That just brought them one VERY significant step closer to threatening iPod. Ballmer’s not going to sit still either. He’s going to take the fight to iPod. His version 1.0 may not seem like much. But, do you remember version 1.0 of iPod? Compared to today’s experience… I wouldn’t have one. I’d have been very shocked if Microsoft had come out with a winning hand for version 1.0: They haven’t learned their lessons yet.
So, the bar’s been raised pretty high. Right? Well, yes and no. See… Apple’s learned a gob of lessons first-hand. They know and remember exactly how they came to be where they are now. They learned to grow up fast, iterate, grow more, iterate, etc. The only saving grace Apple has is no one else is really iterating a whole package across multiple platforms. The saving grace (and it’s not to be counted on really) is that Microsoft doesn’t seem to have iterative design in their DNA. They just don’t do things too very quickly. And, no one on the Windows side of life is going to seriously threaten Apple’s lock on the Mac platform. Unless… you see that little brown app pop up on a Mac some day. That will signal some serious throw down is coming.