iPod Still a Driving Force Behind Apple Inc.'s Quest to Command and Conquer

From Leopard's New 'Sidebar' and 'Cover Flow,' to Upcoming iPhone,
Apple's Success in Music Biz a Major Key to Making PC Users Switch


by Joe Leo, Columnist


COMMENTARY: (6.13.07)-- Okay. I'm all tired of the "iPod halo effect" already. In fact, I don't care if it's Apple's way to command and conquer by using their electronic arts to entice us all. If you weren't at the WWDC 07 conference on Monday morning, or didn't watch the taped Keynote via QuickTime later on that day, you won't have a clue whether I'm a Mac or a PC today.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but up until Monday, that was the first time we got a sneak peek of the actual features of Leopard (Mac OS X, v 10.5) pouncing across the vista on your African safari. Sure, we saw some leaked screen shots--or very good faked ones that were still convincing--but we never saw the next iteration of Mac OS X in action, being demoed by "the Steve" onstage.

Now. Is it only me, or is the "iPod halo effect" once again behind Apple's strategy to take over?

Don't get me wrong. I'm looking forward to the day that Apple Inc. dominates the market in not just sales of mp3 players, but also in their hardware and operating system. Every day we see signs of the second coming growing ever so close and Microsoft lurking in Apple's shadows. Stocks breaking records day after day (at least in recent days), increasing market share, etc.

But going back to the issue at hand, it still seems to be all about iPod this, iPod that. I wrote a whole story about it over the holidays, and you can even call it an "investigative report" if you will. You'll remember that we discussed the fact that Apple themselves was hiring some research team to investigate whether Santa Claus, um, the "halo effect" really existed.

And just when I was ready to call it quits and dismiss it as nothing but good fun, here comes Leopard pouncing through the thick brush and along the way of our trip, we find that the safari is not about observing animals in their natural habitat, but rather?

Observing human beings and their music-listening habits. We'll call them, "the 'Pod People."

Most are Mac users, while the others use Windows-based PCs. Without going through the whole explanation and/or argument over what the halo effect means, we can safely say that it's the linchpin in the whole "Get a Mac" equation, the idea that "Macs are Better than PCs" and the "It Just Works" mantra.

Case in point, lo and behold, on Monday, Steve Jobs announces some brand-spanking new features of Leopard. One is a redesigned Finder with a brand new Sidebar. How did they do it? Lordy. It has a...? iTunes interface. (I almost threw up). Then there's the new Cover Flow feature which I really really like, but again, it smacks of iTunes!

(I swear it is iTunes, dressed up as a fake new feature of Leopard to keep Redmond guessing).

Which stems on the iPod. Which goes to the whole idea about simplicity of use, and since Windows/PC users who have iPods are accustomed to this method of doing things, what better way to get them to move to the Mac by making Leopard, iTunes-like? Something they're used to seeing and already using on their own PCs.

Then later in the Keynote, just as they did with iTunes and the iPod, making it available for both Mac + PC, they're going to take the same route with Safari 3.

Safari 3? For Mac and Windows? I love that idea. One, because it's another one of those "trojan horse" methods. Like the iPod (again, goodness), and/or iTunes, etc., why not let them eat cake and have it too? Let them experience Safari for themselves.

Who cares if they're using it on their Windows box. As long as they're exposed to it. Then maybe they'll decide, what, Safari 3, iTunes, my iPod, and being able to run Windows XP or Vista also on a Mac... I'm sold. (No, they're sold. I've been a Mac user for life).

Jobs says during his Keynote, "But how are we going to distribute this? I mean, we don't really talk to these customers, do we? What are we gonna do?"

He goes on to say, "Well, it turns out there's over a million downloads of iTunes a day. As a matter of fact, there have been over half a billion downloads of iTunes to Windows machines... so we know how to reach these customers. And we're going to do exactly that."

Steve never really said what the "that" was, but we can see it's going to be tied to iTunes.


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