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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Speaking of Those Who Speak of Clowns

I generally ignore the bigger idiots online, but every once in a while, I have to just shake my head at what passes for analysis in the blogosphere these days. This week, John Gruber complained about Rob Enderle's dismissal of a ComScore report about iTunes sales, and heck, maybe you can make an argument out of this if you're bored and can't wait for Apple to simply tell us how well things went next week. But he oddly singled me out as well because I referred to Enderle's article as "excellent." He then quotes exactly the part of my post that proves my point, i.e. that Enderle knows what he's talking about:
For those of us who really follow Apple, it is common knowledge that the company you see from the CEO on down is a construct. The public “Steve Jobs” is a character created by Apple’s agency played by a guy named “Steve Jobs” — that’s why Apple doesn’t like the Jobs biographies — they break the image. Had they gone the Ronald McDonald route, they could probably keep the name and change the guy.
This, clearly, is true. Apple Computer is really just Steve Jobs Corp, and if it wasn't, the Apple Computer you know and love wouldn't even exist. So I can only imagine that Gruber exists to simply tear other people down. Presumably, he thinks he can get more hits by mentioning Enderle's name (and, sadly, my name) and by being a stinker about the whole thing. Certainly, careers have been made out of being sad and petty.

Anyway, I do think that Enderle's point about Apple and Jobs is correct, and I've made comments along those lines myself over the years. I'm open to a discussion about this topic, but there's no need to be a jerk about it if you disagree. With maturity comes an understanding that the world isn't black and white, and everyone has opinions. Some, of course, are just better argued than others.

Regarding the whole ComScore thing, I'm only interested in the truth. In case you forget how I fell into this whole mess--and we all know Gruber didn't do the legwork to figure it out--I had spoken with a good friend from Microsoft's Zune team back in early December, turning that discussion into an article on my SuperSite for Windows called Zunestory. While he provided me with far more detail than I could relate publicly, part of the conversation revolved around why Zune didn't do as much as the iPod and how Microsoft had looked at the market and discovered that most people simply don't use most iPod features. Furthermore, no one is really buying much content from iTunes, when you factor in the total number of iPods sold:
Other activities, like video, see only niche usage. And people do these things less and less over time. They may download a song or TV show once to try it out, but virtually no one is going back again and again to buy new content. "The attach rate of videos to iPod is very low," Caulton said, "somewhere on the order of .25 videos per iPod per month."
There are similar statistics out there for music too: People basically toy with iTunes when they first get their iPod and then move on with life. And his information was supported by a Wall Street Journal report that appeared after my talk with Microsoft. Entitled "Digital-music sales have stalled," this article (which I linked to here) noted:
Digital-music sales have stalled for the first time since Apple launched its iTunes Store in 2003. Digital track sales held steady at 137 million songs in the second and third quarters of this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's a slight drop from the 144 million sold in the first quarter.
The article included this chart:

I linked to this stuff because I was interested in how closely it paralleled the market data Microsoft had. But hey, I'm labeled an Apple hating moron, so that should come as no surprise.

Since then, a number of other analysts, including those from ComScore, have reported that iTunes sales are fine. Forrester disagrees. And Enderle defends Forrester, because he knows and trusts the people there. Meanwhile, the Mac blogosphere, predictably and complacently, has rallied around those who say everything is fine. I don't know where things will fall. But I do know this: Both Enderle and Forrester are credible. And while Mac fanatics like to jump onto dissenters like hyenas on a fresh meal, only Apple can really set the record straight. Maybe we could wait for that to happen.
[ Posted at 1:47 PM | Permalink ]


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