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Apple Expo without Apple

Latest update : 2008-09-19

An Apple Expo without Apple. Fans of the famed brand are making their way to the Parc des Expositions in Paris for an Apple Expo (September 17-20) which, for the first time, will have no trace of the product for which it was named.


Alexander Lenoir, a journalist at the tech magazine “iCreate,” told FRANCE 24, “Apple called the organizers with little notice just before the summer.” A vendor smokes outside the hall with a wistful air. “It’s so much smaller than before! No one has any exciting news.” Nonetheless, over 100 vendors showed their latest line of iPod accessories.  The organizers still report 50,000 visitors, just as in previous years. Message: even without Apple’s presence, the iPod and its associated peripherals are almighty. Although, say some, this remains to be seen.


Eloquent numbers


The figures are eloquent, at any rate. The iPod represents 75% of all mp3 player sales. “Apple is at the top of their power,” says Rob Enderle, head financial analyst of the US firm EnderleGroup. Since 2001, 159 million iPods have been sold. “Steve Jobs is a marketing genius,” says Camille Gruhier, a journalist who covers technology for the magazine UFC-Que Choisir. “He makes players into trendy objects, ones that can’t be passed up. There are players for all tastes and all prices.”


iPods have a coherent ecosystem. “All accessories are made for Apple! Even other media player constructors like Philips or Creative are working on Apple accessories,” says Enderle. There is little room for competition.


Archos was the first company to make a video component for the mp3s; they are now running up against the new iPod. The French company hopes that “more universal devices” will be developed for non-iPod players.


For Sony, the number two mp3 makers in the European market, the credo is “freedom.” Fabrice Massin, head of marketing for Sony’s audio unit, says: “A year ago we abandoned the proprietary format; now, users can import music from anywhere to a Sony player. It has turned everything around for us.”


The Danger comes from the inside


In the case of Apple, a song downloaded from iTunes can only be used on an iPod, not any other brand. The closed system has been widely criticized.  “It can’t take Apple a lot of market shares,” says Enderle. “The biggest danger almost always comes from the inside.” In certain “Macaddict” communities, the Apple image is being denigrated. “This desire for infinite control will turn out badly,” says journalist Alexandre Lenoir. “Apple exist on a very volatile market, that can move very quickly. It’s a consumer-based market. If they alienate the community, it’s already too late,” added Enderle.


At his last presentation in August, Steve Jobs had to excuse himself for a mistake in one of his new products. A first, and a sign of things to come, according to Enderle: “The breach shows a company that has reached a level of dominance where it focuses too much on costs, and not enough on quality.” Not unlike Microsoft in its heyday.

Date created : 2008-09-19