Friday, October 3, 2003 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Daring Dell

John Gruber makes the case that there is an essential difference between the computer and consumer electronics businesses, which will prevent Dell’s knock-off from threatening the iPod. The difference apparently is in who makes the purchasing decisions.

Dell, as much as any PC maker, exemplified this corporate focus. The Dell brand stands for computers that are just like the other guys’, except a little cheaper. This brand message was and is hugely popular with corporate bean counters.

But this doesn’t do Dell a bit of good in the consumer electronics market. Corporations buy computers for their employees, but they don’t buy MP3 players. The iPod’s brand—and Apple’s—is strongest with individuals. Which is exactly the sort of brand that’s needed to sell portable music players.

But by this logic, one would expect Macs to outsell PCs in the home. Gruber makes an interesting argument about the iPod as a relatively inexpensive status item, but it doesn’t convince me. $500 is still a lot of money, and my guess is that Dell’s product will be significantly cheaper and “good enough.” The iPod will still be Coke, but I don’t see what’s stopping the Dell DJ from being Pepsi. Perhaps I’m naive in thinking that for most people an MP3 player is about the music.

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