Phantom Price Drops?

Apple rolled out their latest revamp of the iPod line today: a 6GB mini, 30GB and 60GB iPod Photos, and price drops on most products.

However, the new iPods come with fewer accessories than before. Items that were standard like the firewire cable, case and dock are now extra.

I’m not one who likes to pile on the accessories after plunking down cash on a big ticket purchase, so I liked that when I bought my iPod it came with everything. Sure, the case wasn’t ideal since I have to pull the iPod out to use the buttons/clickwheel, but it also meant not having to spend an extra $20-50 on a case. And the firewire cable & dock are now an additional $58. The three accessories I got with my iPod would now run $87, which means the actual price drop isn’t as dramatic as it first seems. I bought a 15GB iPod almost 2 years ago for $399, and now a 20GB with accessories would run $387.

I guess some people want to add a case according to their specific use and taste, but it seems that the dock and firewire are pretty key items to inlcude. It’s kind of like dropping the price on a car, but no longer including wheels.

I guess we’ll see. Apple seems to have an uncanny ability to understand their market, and their stock price shows that. I’ve benefitted from that personally, and just hope they continue to prosper with their growing iPod line.

So Close, but So Far

During my annual vacations in Puerto Vallarta, I’ve noticed more and more car models available down there that we cannot get in the U.S.

For the past couple years, I’ve been seeing the Nissan X-TRAIL — an attractive, smaller SUV that is most likely car-based. At least in Mexico, it prices in just below the X-Terra we can get here in the U.S. It seems like it’d be a nice competitor to the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Excape, etc. So why doesn’t Nissan sell the model north of the border? Nissan’s small SUV is the rugged, truck-based X-Terra. But in other SUV segments, Nissan offers both ends of the spectrum. In the mid-sized segment, they offer the truck-based Pathfinder as well as the car-based Murano. So why not offer the X-Trail here, too?

I’ve also noticed that many of the European makers sell their vehicles in Mexico yet remain out of the U.S. market — Alfa Romeo, Renault, Seat, Peugeot. Oh, how I wish they sold the Alfa 156, Renault Laguna, Seat Cordoba or the Peugeot 406 coupe here.

I realize that it is expensive to move into a new market. They’d need to set up dealership networks, merket the vehicles, etc. But it seems like the payoff would be much greater in the world’s most lucrative auto market. If they’ve already developed the channels to import the cars into North America, it seems silly not to tap into a much larger market that’s right there.

In the past, cars have been marketed primarily through expensive advertising such as television and national magazines. But it seems to me that cars could be marketed very effectivly without resorting to the high cost advertising used by GM, Ford, Toyota, etc.

But autos lend themselves to word-of-mouth marketing better than nearly any product. They’re an emotional purchase — how many people spend so much more than they’d need to for basic transportation because they love the design, performance or status of a particular car. These cars are driven places and they act as billboards just by being on the road. That’s exactly how I learned about the models referred to earlier. And how many people attend auto shows each year? Auto shows provide a perfect opportunity to put a product in front of the target market, both those looking for a new car as well as car buffs who are often asked for advice by friends and family. Car magazines provide free coverage (well except maybe the cost associated with loaning a demo car), and give consumers more insight into their performance. And don’t forget the web. Studies show that a large majority of car shoppers begin their research online before ever heading to a dealership, and the combination of manufacturer sites, general auto sites and fan sites provide a number of opportunities to spread the word about new models available.

Hopefully, some of the Euro car makers will realize this and return to the U.S. market. Alfa has been discussing it for years now, and I can’t wait to get myself a 156.

Little i

While the dot com era seemed to herald the rise of lowercase letters beginning names (ebay, iPod, uBid, etc.) the word Internet was an annomoly. But that’s now changed. According to Wired, we no longer need to capitalize the ‘i’ in ‘internet’. Or the ‘n’ in net. Or the ‘w’ in ‘web.’

[I]n the case of internet, web and net, a change in our house style was necessary to put into perspective what the internet is: another medium for delivering and receiving information. That it transformed human communication is beyond dispute. But no more so than moveable type did in its day. Or the radio. Or television.

Throughout the years, I’ve been one of those rare people who actually knew the proper capitalization and and tried as much as possible to abide by it. I remeber a former colleague sending out an email with the official style guide for all those new “new economy” terms. Off all the hundreds of email sna memos, that’s one that stuck. And now I’ll probably forget all the time about the lower-case i’s. Maybe Jeneane needs to send out another memo…

When Worlds Converge

This morning, I was reading the Chicago Trib online when an article title jumps out at me: Blogs flex muscle in `viral marketing’. I’m always interested in how the real media covers “new” things like blogs? Because they’re usually either years behind the curve or base entirely.

Interestingly, however, my old boss from my Atlanta days at eKetchum days was one of the quoted “experts” in the article. Now I’m wondering if he even blogs. Guess I’ll have to go hunt…

UPDATE: He does, at

At the end of the article, it lists some Chicago blogs, including Chicagoist!

So my old boss and my new blog in the same article…