My market analysis ignores the factor that brand has on the decision, which is actually quite significant. Given Apple’s domination of the market and the iPod’s status as a major cultural icon of this decade, the choice to buy an iPod or another brand makes a statement about who you are.
When I’m not compromising my principles, I strongly resist joining the crowd. Exceptions to this rule have not fared well for me, as the parachute pants I purchased in 9th grade powerfully attest. Something about the iPod’s universal popularity and sleekness and pervasiveness has always made me a little uncomfortable, which is why I came into this investigation predisposed against the iPod.
That said, it is hard to deny the allure of the mainstream. There’s something about choosing things like the iPod or the New York Yankees or Satan that is very reassuring. It’s declaring citizenship with the majority. You’re given a bond with everyone who has made the same choice, which is at least a plurality, even if the bond is a bit superficial. Throwing your lot with the majority means the voices of those who approve of you are bound to be more numerous than the voices of those who disapprove.
And those dancing silhouette rock stars with the white earbuds look really cool in the commercials.
That allure tempted me early in my search to spring for the $250 shiny 80 GB iPod or Zune. It was more than I wanted to spend and probably more than I needed, but that was kind of the point. This once I could comfortably give into my materialistic, image-centered instincts and indulge.
There’s part of me that cares about what others think of me much more than it ought to, and there’s another part of me that looks at the act of considering a price tag as low and a slight against who I am.
You can see the small can of worms that the simple process of shopping for a small electronic gadget opened up for me. In general I think I do better staying out of these things...
By the way, I didn’t (quite) intend to equate buying an iPod with following Satan. I’m sure many make the decision to purchase one without the debate that I went through, and as I mentioned in one class of products the iPod may actually be objectively the best choice. The juxtaposition was (mostly) made in jest.