Abuse of Power?

28 February 2006

It was with great anticipation and enthusiasm that common-folk stopped doing their day jobs at 10AM PST today. We all tuned into our choice rumor site (those that could handle the stress) and eagerly awaited each update as they came in, play-by-play. We, to put it lightly, were let down. The new Intel-based Mac mini

Apple today introduced a new revision to their Mac mini computer, which now sports and Intel process (available in single and duo core). The Mac mini now comes in two flavors: Too-Expensive and Way-Too-Expensive. Meh.

They also revealed a boombox-like product for the iPod, called iPod Hi-Fi, also available in the Way-Too-Expensive category.

Let me ask a simple question here, fully knowing my audience of Apple-fans and geeks: Do you think Apple is abusing their power?

An event? For this?

Steve Jobs unveiling the new Intel Mac miniApple events are big. They’re, like, bigger than big. When Engadget.com goes down because of the stress on their server you know something’s big (not even CES did that). There wasn’t one pre-event headline or article that didn’t call this event “big”. Even Leo Laporte (of the This Week in Tech podcast) said it was supposed to be big.

Was it big event? No.

So if Apple knows their power in drawing the masses, why did they use it for such small offerings?

Caveat: Okay, I can understand the necessity for a Mr.-Jobs-himself reveal of the Intel Mac mini (or any Intel-based Mac). The move to Intel is a huge to majorly huge deal for Apple. Still, don’t you think it should have been the “one more thing …” or at least the last thing on the agenda? Instead it was the first. It was almost like they wanted to downplay the Mac mini and have it upstaged by the iPod Hi-Fi! (You think they actually did want that?)

A hundred bucks? For that?

Leather iPod caseIn addition to the Mac minitel (minintel?), and the iPod Why?-Fi, Apple also graciously introduced a stunningly lame iPod leather case. Priced at an unbelievable $99, the case’s only qualifying features are a stamped Apple logo and “iPod” wording—and maybe the tab-pull thing. Again, meh.

I told a friend I would have likely purchased the case had it been priced at $29, and maybe heavily weighed the cost at $39. But for $99? I think we’re seeing some price-gouging going on.

Media bias? What’s that?

Steve Jobs & Co. have clearly won the media over with their iPod and cool business strategies—well, most of the media, anyway. Columnists who wouldn’t pay Apple a second thought are now writing speculation about their future, almost endorsing their endeavors. Apple, once the forgotten dog, is now the underdog. And who doesn’t like rooting for the underdog?

I’ll openly admit that my Apple-geekness causes my emotions to get all wound up when an event like today’s is announced. But when the general public, who three years ago said, “Apple-who?” join in the fray … let’s just conclude that Apple’s got some powerful influence and a lot going for them right now.

So, why, with everything going so well, does Apple pull a stunt like they did today? It was, without a doubt, one of the most disappointing product announcement(s) from Apple … ever. And not just because of the rumored video iPod, full-length films on iTunes, or other such speculations that surrounded the event. It’s a disappointment because Apple held an event for it.