The iPod "Lean Consumption" Model
This article was posted today at cnet News.com. I own, and absolutely love my iPod. It's perfect for the gym, when I'm traveling and many other times. It is incredibly simple, very intuitive to use and works seamlessly with the iTunes software provided by Apple. I was also able to quickly and easily load my CD collection onto my computer with only a couple of keystrokes per CD using the software.
It was no surprise for me to read today on cnet news that the iPod is far and away dominating the portable audio market. Advertisements are everywhere and it seems generally accepted that the iPod is THE portable player to own. Last quarter 6.4 million iPod's were sold -nearly 70% of the market.
The article talks about rivals to Apple who are quickly introducing competing products. They are focusing efforts on consumers who are looking for more choices to Apple's 99c/song iTunes Music Store for on-line music purchases. The iPod is currently not compatible with growing on-line music subscription services that allow consumers to listen to an unlimited amount of music for a monthly fee.
What I learned from the article was that virtually all other devices use Microsoft technology and carry the company's ‘Plays for Sure' logo. This logo is intended to show compatibility among all the devices and on-line services that Microsoft's products mesh with. The only catch is that full compatibility with subscription services has not been achieved. According to analysts paraphrased in the article, “the extra work of matching different companies' devices and services may well keep consumers coming back to Apple.”
It seems perfectly logical that consumers will continue to look for alternatives to Apple's iPod / iTunes system. However, if competitors don't find a way to agree on an open standard to ensure compatibility I believe Apple's simple, proprietary system will continue to dominate. So far, it's the best example in the industry of a “Lean Consumption” model.