Happy Birthday, dearest: The iPod turns five

Cynthia CloskeyGeneral

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the introduction of the most memorable brand of the last decade: Apple’s iPod. You’ll find articles in the San Jose Mercury News, CNet, Los Angeles Times, a whole section in the Washington Post, and more.

But if you’re looking for clear, cogent analysis of why the iPod brand has been such a winner, be sure to read this article from faisal at Tea Leaves. Some points I found particularly nice, among a list of reasons for iPod success:

  • It was white. Yes, it was goofy looking. And yet, it did not look like part of a computer. This matters when selling to a young adult audience that considers aesthetics an important differentiating point. If you’re a geek you want more features. But in the whole history of mankind nobody ever got a date due to enhanced skip protection.
  • Engraving. By letting people put their name in their iPod Apple instantly increased the value of the iPod to the buyer. It also decreased the value of the iPod to anyone else. Engraved iPods don’t get resold as much as un-engraved ones, and new iPod buyers are more likely to buy new.
  • It was white (yes, again). Everyone knows what an iPod looks like. Nobody knows what a Creative Zen looks like. Suddenly a bunch of people are carrying this freaky white box. What is it? It’s an iPod. A different bunch of people are carrying little gray boxes. What are they? They’re MP3 players. They’re like iPods, only different. Parents, do not let your kid grow up to be the brand manager whose product gets described as “like” something.

Note that customer service has not been a big component of the iPod brand. If anything, it’s an anti-component — people love their iPods despite their intermittent problems. Style and the right feature/benefit set, on the other hand, have been critical.
I loved my iPod before I ever even saw it. I tracked it all the way from Taiwan to my doorstep, replaced it free twice, and never go a day without using it in some manner. I listen to music with iTunes every day too. There are limits to my iPod love. But I still adore iPod, and I’m not alone — and Apple continues to thrive based on its ability to create and sustain that brand.

Your assignment: Find a way to help your clients and customers love your brand the way people love iPod.