Our iPod 14% market share story was widely covered and discussed by hundreds from Philippines to Portugal, from Singapore to Sweden, and of course among the passionate Apple/Mac/iPod community centered in the USA.
Normally we have about 300 visitors per day. And we receive a couple of comments per week. "Demise of a Darling" broke all of our records. We had over 8000 visitors reading the iPod related pages and they left us over 120 comments over the last week to the three postings relating to that story. 3000 visitors and 32 replies came within the first 24 hours, those from just two Macintosh/Apple -related sites
In all we have 145 comments from 72 readers (the 145 includes my replies). On several dozen other blogsites at least another 150 comments have been posted on this topic around the world. On dozens of discussion boards ranging from the Apple/Mac discussion groups to the general IT discussion boards to the mobile telecoms panels the story has attracted many hundreds of comments more, from the "these guys are idiots for even suggesting it" to "since Apple now admits to planning an iPhone, what should Apple do next to enter this market Ahonen talks about." It was a reasonably "hot topic" over the past week. But like so many other hot topics introduced on the web, it is now all but over.
We did not invent this phone-iPod convergence story now in July of 2006. Earlier this year there have been some of the biggest names in telecoms, IT and media acknowledging that the MP3 player market now consists of iPods and mobile phones. From the predictable players like Nokia's Anssi Vanjoki to Microsoft's Bill Gates we've also heard the music industry discuss the convergence such as Warner Music's CEO Edgar Bronfman. Even Apple's own CFO Peter Oppenheimer on 19 July admitted that musicphones are now in the same market as iPods. His position was that iPods still hold the technical lead over such devices as the SonyEricsson Walkman phones. I also want to mention, that none of the Vanjoki, Gates, Bronfman or Oppenheimer comments were in response to ours. They all discussed the converged market BEFORE OUR BLOG.
We did not invent this story last week to cause hype and a tidal wave of readership to our site (what many in their haste to post angry replies probably didn't notice, is that we don't carry any advertising on our site so there would be no point in creating visitors for the sake of traffic).
Already some of the biggest and most reputable analyst companies for the IT and telecoms industries, like IDC/Informa (which Apple itself uses), and Gartner, Ovum, Yankee Group etc have already started to track the musicplayer market as one which includes both iPods and MP3 players. Newspapers and business periodicals from the Financial Times to Business Week have discussed the market as becoming one (or indeed already being one market).
SO WHY THE STORY
We introduced the topic here, as this blogsite tracks digital convergence in all media, IT and telecoms. As one example of how rapidly a new marketspace (iTunes/iPod) can be invented - and often by unlikely rivals to established industry - like we write in our case study of the iPod in our book - to how rapidly such market space can be "invaded by the hoardes", or cannibals at the gate, if you will. This is what happened to the iPod during the past 18 months. That is the story we wanted to report. But like so many similar stories of magazines dying because of digital convergence or of advertising spending shifting or of youth time and disposable income shifting, etc, this one topic, iPods, received as many comments as all other comments left on our blogsite in the past year. It was apparently a hot button topic.
PATTERNS IN REPLIES
On this site we had 145 comments (that includes my frequent replies). The outside comments came from 72 people. 52 people (72%) were completely or mostly against us. 12 people (17%) were partly or fully in support of us. And 8 people (11%) felt the topic had some merit, perhaps more in the future than today; or gave a neutral comment like requesting some specific information.
WHAT IS THE SPLIT?
Is there a clear split to the replies? Most of the 72% of the replies against us, came from the Macintosh/Apple community. I need to point three splits of this set of replies.
There is the obviously clear Apple/Mac vs PC split. Macs are the minority in the computer world. They are very passionate, and often feel discriminated. They are most fiercely loyal to their cause. I think many had hoped the iPod would become the world-beater that the Macintosh never was able to be. And perhaps it is those hopes they felt now this kind of 14% market share posting was destroying? I don't know. Apple/Mac fans felt we were totally wrong with the blog. Bear in mind that Macintoshes are under 10% of all PCs. And yes, some Mac users also agreed with us.
PC vs Telecoms experts. There is a bigger split in the overall IT world, that of the PC computing world vs the telecoms world. Actually the telecoms world is much larger in total revenues, Fortune 500 sized companies, and total customers (remember 1 billion internet users vs 2.4 billion mobile phone users and 1.3 billion fixed landline telecoms customers). In the split of IT vs Telecoms, almost all experts on the telecoms side found agreement with our blog. The telecoms world is more than twice the size of the IT world in terms of total revenues.
USA vs World. The most telling split is that of North American readers vs the rest of the world. We've had comments here at this site from Europe, Asia etc, in addition to those from the USA and Canada. There is a very clear split that most North American readers tend to comment "I have not seen anyone using phones in this way" while almost all European and Asian commenters openly agree that the musicphones are now an everyday item in their markets. Americans are only 5% of the world's population. And yes, some in America supported us too, and some outside found fault in our reasoning (and these tended all to profess to being Macintosh/Apple people too)
With that, it makes sense that almost all comments against us come from either Macintosh/Apple computer users or from Americans in general. Almost all in support of us come from the non-Apple PC world, the telecoms world, or outside North America.
MANY APPLAUDED US
Robert Scobler at the Scobleizer blog is one of the best-read blogsites in the world and regularly quoted by the industry:
"(Tomi Ahonen's) very long (but excellent) essay saying the iPod is on decline. Why? Because of cell phones eating into iPod’s market share."
Another typical comment from Technovia by Ian Betteridge
"Tomi Ahonen has been taking a beating from the rabid Apple fans for his analysis of the portable music player market, despite the fact that his numbers and premise are completely sound"
APPLE PEOPLE VEHEMENTLY AGAINST US
Vehemently against the posting - these are exclusively Mac/Apple/iPod dedicated sites, but there were many that I found (and I don't mean to suggest there weren't even more). Note the amount of comments at these:
TUAW The Unofficial Apple Weblog there were two threads, the first entilted "Gimme a break, iPod market share 14%?" by Dan Pourhadi. He invited opinions by "ye members of the Mac Elite"
The Mac Format covered the article claiming it sensationalist (and making an error as we never said Apple was in any way dying because of iPod market share crashing). They write:
"Really the whole article just looks like another Dvorak-inspired* piece of sensationalist journalism designed to drive traffic to a website" - which I must immediately refute that as we have no advertising at this site, generating traffic is quite a pointless task. We want intelligent readers, and just to attract an angry Apple mob serves us no purpose whatsoever.
In addition to these, are the various Macintosh/Apple user groups (listed below) which requre registration and thus are not really blogsites as such, rather discussion groups
OUTSIDE USA WE HAD LOTS OF SUPPORT
Many sites in over a dozen countries and languages reflected their support of our blog, such as this:
Web 2.0 Asia
"The article is quite long, but a must read, if you are interested in mobile media."
REPORTED ON DOZENS OF OTHER SITES
Many news sites and aggregators reported the story, including:
Business Week, Wireless Watch, The 3G Portal, Forum Oxford, Carnival of the Mobilists, Newsgator, Nedrichards,
Dozens of blogsites mentioned it, included a link, or posted a short excerpt. I know I have not found all, but hope that this is a fair representation of at least most that have sent traffic to us.
Blogtronix, Del.icio.us, money.cnn.blogs, domelhor.net, SMStextnews, ptrmn.blogspot.com, techmeme, blackbagops.net, megite, irishblogs,ie, blogdigger, gnoos.com.au, feedcollectors, johanfitie, haddock.org, piersantelli.it, crazyfactor, informatory, athla.info, asterisco.paradigma.pt, divedi.blogspot.com
There were also many Mac/Apple specific sites who reported it, which I want to separate from the generic blogsite bunch:
MacTime, MacAddict, MacFormat, TUAW, OmenaMehu.org, podcentral.ph, free-ipod-blogs, podcast.blogwog,
SOME SAID ITS OLD NEWS
There also are those who make the point that this view is not radical at all, that its been said many times before. (these tend all to be experts based outside the USA)
For example Joe Hayabashi at the Joe's Blog writes
"Sure the iPod is still super strong and Apple will continue to make and sell a ton of iPods. It's just that over the long haul it's very difficult for single function devices to compete against the functionality consuming mobile phone ecosystem (other than as a high-end niche device). I'd argue that the writing has been on the wall since the beginning..."
OTHERS SAID IT WILL ATTRACT IRE OF APPLE FANS
Paul Thurrott's Internet Nexus was supportive of us, and warned it will cause a vehement Apple fanatics response:
"I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Apple community will react to this article as if it were the insane ramblings of a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. There's some justification for that. But. There's also some justification in believing that there's a point being made here. Cell phones, almost certainly, will surpass dedicated MP3 players (as they have cameras and PDAs). Has it already happened?"
Paul's prediction proved remarkably accurate. Michael Mace also reported on the "cat fight" - and Michael also sides with us on this:
Michael Mace's Mobile Opportunity blogsite
"By far the best cat fight of the week is the discussion spawned by Tomi Ahonen's lengthy post declaring the death of the iPod at the hands of the MP3-capable phone. "The battle is totally over. Apple cannot recover," he writes. Tomi makes the mobile-phone-conquers-all argument very forcefully and in great detail. Check it out and decide for yourself."
As anyone who'se seen me speak knows, I am a big fan of using humour. And here is my absolute favourite comment. It was at the TUAW site and I tried to reply to this many times to thank for the funniest reply ever to anything I've said. But unfortunately the TUAW site had some technical issues with my e-mail and wouldn't let me in (they were most supportive and helpful of me and apologized). This is by jbelkin on 21 July at the TUAW site (note the Thurott he refers to had commented in support of my blog):
"Thurott doesn't go far enough - what about people who spontaneously burst into song? They are in effect a human Mp3 player - so, the ipod share goes lower - especially if you count insane people. As the Earth rotates, millions of people actually turn off their ipod to go to sleep - that's a market share loss every night! Potentially millions of those people could have a horrible nightmare and want to buy a WMA 128k flash player the next morning! Again, more market share losses."
I honestly laughed out loud when I read that. Thank you jbelkin. Spontaneously bursting into song. Yes, I forgot to count all the idiots who further erode the iPod market share ha-ha
IS IT WORST OR BEST?
We also have the dubious honour of someone claiming it the worst writing of all time, while another considering it one of the best writings of the week.
Worst article ever written says one (Apple fanatic) writer
A blogsite entitled "Fix Your Thinking" but for which the author is not brave enough to reveal his own name, he posts with this headline: "In the history of all articles written on the internet, this is the worst" The author writes:
"You've read a lot of articles on the internet, right? You read BLOGs and other news sites like this one on a daily basis. No matter what rant you've read from Dvorak, from Enderle, from Palmer ... nothing tops this absurdly lengthy, incredibly non factual diatribe on Apple's iPod. Not only is the debate contained within this article non sequitur (a favorite word of mine lately) ... but it is so poorly written that it almost seems the writer Tomi T Ahonen is living in another universe. He's certainly not on the same planet I'm on where the iPod has <76% marketshare."
I of course have also commented at that site - apparently that author's planet is exclusively the USA, as Apple's own numbers reveal their next best country by market share is Australia at 58%, Canada at 46% and rest of the world more like Germany 21%, France 11% etc. But I digress. This blog entry is at:
It is funny how one blogger (anonymously) can say this is the worst writing of all time, while many others like Robert Scoble say its an excellent article and the Carnival of the Mobilists made it one of the finalists for best writing on the web of last week. The Carnival said my blog was one of the finalists at this link:
Michael Mace who hosted the Carnival of the Mobilists, selected the blog as one of the finalists for the best blog of the week recognition:
As host of the Carnival, I get to choose a post of the week. Tomi's iPod post is definitely the most passionate (and longest), Stephanie's was very insightful, and I really like the way Kevin Evans thinks. But the point-counterpoint at All About Symbian was my favorite, so that's the post of the week. Congratulations, guys!
So someone (who dare not post his name) says its the worst writing of all time, while another reputable blogger of long standing and big readership considere it one of the best blogs of the week? Beauty in the eye of the beholder, no doubt?
HAS MERIT, LETS WAIT AND SEE
There are the "lets wait and see" postings who accept the premise but point out that there is a valid view on both sides. Owen Thomas at CNN/Money blogsite The Browser takes this view ending with "If other countries follow Japan's lead, the iPod's reign could be short-lived indeed."
The Irish Eyes blogsite by Bernie Goldbach reports on the moves by Apple towards iPhones but references our blog,
APPLE USERS THEMSELVES SHOW THIS PATTERN
Most revealingly TUAW also ran a poll of how many of its users (keeping in mind this is The Unofficial Apple Weblog - listen to music on phones). They have had 5,354 votes as of 26 July. What should concern Dan Pourhadi and the TUAW site visitors, is that of THEIR readership, 18% of this Apple-hard core fan base admit to listening to music on phones, using both (11%) or more on phone (2%) or exclusively on phone (5%).
So even among the die-hard Apple/Macintosh/iPod loyal fan base, the dam is breaking and the shift has started to emerge. One in five loyal Mac fans is already using a mobile phone for some or all of their music consumption.
It has been a heavy period of time, replying to all comments, and I do feel a frustration in having to explain the same points time and again. But also, I am confident this discussion has opened some eyes with miscellanous readers. There is no doubt. There is a trend of music consumption shifting from iPods to musicphones. The discussion at this blogsite and on dozens of sites around the world, reflects passionate Apple/Macintosh fans expressing their frustration on this, but also reflects many of the most respected sources admiting our argument is totally true, or at least has a lot of merit.
I want to end on one comment in support of us. For those who actually have taken the long time to read all of the comments, and see how diligently I've replied to every one of our visitors, with a personal, named reply to each, these kind words did feel particularly warm, thank you Mikeleh:
"Tomi explains it in depth and with saintly patience for the flood of Apple fanatics who dispute him. Worth reading."
We thank you all for visiting our site and for enjoining in the discussion. I hope sincerely that you can join in other discussions in the future as we examine the convergence of IT, telecoms and media; and the role of digital communities such as bloggers, in that new converged world.