Apple eats its ‘companions’

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.

P.S.: IMHO, the Griffin TuneCenter is a much cooler conceptual product than the iPod HiFi as it integrates the iPod into ones existing home video/sound system.

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.”

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Sorry, all you people who want to talk on cellphones in airplanes

Sorry, all you people who want to talk on cellphones in airplanes: According to some new research, “cellphones can impact cockpit devices.” While I have no doubt there will be some future research (sponsored by the cellphone industry) that will prove the opposite, this survey should be enough to postpone for years any FAA decision to change the current rule prohibiting cellphone usage on planes. While others who have commented on this blog are looking forward to the day they can chat away during a flight, I am dreading that possibility as I have no desire to sit next to individuals having long conversations asking people to “guess where I’m calling from?” (In-flight wifi and Skype will provide a geek workaround for those desperate to talk to the terrestrial bound.)

Your value to a newspaper

Your value to a newspaper: Rafat Ali links to a story (that requires a registration so I’ll just link to that quotes “consultant Vin Crosbie,” claiming that “print editions of American newspapers earn between $500 and $900 per consumer a year from a combination of direct circulation revenues and indirect revenues from advertising.” While, no doubt, the term “earn” is incorrect (consultants must suffer from reporters’ confusion between “earnings” and “revenues”), however, I’d like to go on record as saying no daily newspaper has ever treated me as if I were responsible for between $500 and $900 of their revenues per year. I wonder if any newspaper reporter in America knows that each reader is worth almost $1,000 a year in revenues to his or her newspaper?

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