Apple eats its ‘companions’: My Nashville friend and now officially one of my favorite bloggers, Mark Oldham, has a friend named Paul Griffin whose Nashville comany I’ve blogged about often: Griffin Technology. The company has created many of the cool iPod peripherals that have helped to extend the entire iPod franchise. Today, Mark points to this story on the Playlist Magazine blog about how Apple has a history of turning its “companions into competitors.” Besides the peripheral and software categories mentioned in the Playlist post, consider all of the Mac-centric retailers that have been crushed by Apple stores. Later this year, a suit against Apple by a group of these retailers is scheduled for trial.
Apple certainly has the right to compete with the companies that make or sell Apple compatible or peripheral products. I’m merely saying that consumers also have a choice. And when it comes to boomboxes and leather iPod cases, I know what my choice will be. (Although at first, that boombox was tempting.) By the way, instead of a $99 leather Nano sleeve, I purchased a swell $19.95 Incase Neoprene one at the Soho Apple Store.
Update: Here’s another Griffin product that started shipping today, a $19 digital cable that connects an Airport express to your stereo system (I have a similar set up, just not with a “digital” cable).
All of this reminds me that when the Airport express (that allows you to wirelessly stream iTunes from your Mac or PC to your stereo) was first announced, it similarly was positioned as a “changing home audio” product in much the same way yesterday’s Apple announcement was couched. For example, here is the copy on the Apple website for the Airport Express “Airtunes”:
“AirPort Express with AirTunes redefines the way you listen to your music at home. It gives you the freedom to play your iTunes music through your stereo or powered speakers in virtually in any room of your house — wirelessly. It lets you enjoy the tremendous flexibility of iTunes without being bound to your Mac or PC, opening up a whole new world of musical enjoyment.”
Compare that with the copy for the iPod Hi-Fi:
“iPod Hi-Fi: Home stereo. Reinvented. Fill your home with sound, not stereo components. Keep your music collection at your fingertips, not in countless CD cases. Change the way you experience digital music. For $349, iPod Hi-Fi delivers crystal-clear, audiophile-quality sound in a clean, compact design. Hear, hear.”
Granted, the products are different: one works with your computer and one works by docking an iPod with it. But I’m still failing to comprehend — except for the Apple logo — how the iPod Hi-Fi is “redefining” something, especially when I’ve had one of these Bose Sounddocks for over a year.
Update II: (Related quote from a Merrill Lynch analyst) “In the long run, however, by competing with its ecosystem partners with increasingly aggressive moves into categories such as speakers and the implementation of an iPod connector license ‘tax’, Apple risks alienating its ecosystem and creating a margin umbrella that is ripe for disruption from other platforms over time, in our view.”