I have about 17,000 songs in iTunes now (and that's misleading; many of them are an hour or more, because I ripped a bunch of live CD-long concert performances as a single song.)
I've bought fewer than 500 of these songs from Apple.
Apple provides 5 gigs of iCloud storage. You can buy more.
I've got about 16,500 songs-- about 120 gigs-- that isn't purchased from iTunes, and for which I'd thus need to purchase space to accommodate. Apple sells incremental storage space-- really, rents it-- at the rate of $2 a gig. To access my entire iTunes library through iCloud, then, would cost me $240. A year.
Really Apple? Really?
Thanks, no thanks.
I'm really not one to write letters (much less blog posts) to companies. But this is something about which I'm pretty passionate, and it concerns a covenant I thought we had.
I understand that you're all hot and bothered about "the Cloud;" everybody seems to be. It's like this magical fairyland in the sky that will solve all our problems.
I've been a loyal iPod fan since 2003. I'm on, I'm guessing, my sixth one; because I'm sort of a power user, I tend to wear them out. But that's fine; I get more than my money's worth out of every one, unless I break it, and that's my fault, not yours. I got the 40-gig iPod right out of the box, then the 60, then the 80, and when the 160 gig classic iPod came out, well, I was so happy I did a Snoopy dance. You see, you convinced me all those years ago to digitize my music library, so I could have thousands of albums in my pocket at any time. So I've been working on that ever since. Actually, only a fraction of my collection can fit on the 160 gig model, because I'm an avid music fan and very heavy purchaser of prerecorded music-- but certainly my "working" collection is digitized and synced. (Full disclosure: I'm probably not a heavy purchaser of digital music; I still buy the hard copy on CD, then rip to iTunes.)
The thing is, they keep putting out more and more music I like, and I keep adding back catalog stuff to the iPod. Now, my 160 gig classic is almost all full up. But that wasn't supposed to be a problem. See, I know all about Moore's law, the gist of which is that digital storage gets smaller and cheaper faster than one's need for more space (I still can't imagine how I'm going to come close to filling that 2 terabyte hard drive on my iMac.) So naturally I just assumed that before I filled up the Classic, you'd be out with a 220 gig model, or a 320 gig model. Because the fundamental selling proposition of the iPod was, from day one, a ton of music in your pocket. I bought into that dream, and I still do.
But I grow worried. You didn't make any announcement yesterday about the Classic. You haven't come out with a new iPod Classic in over two years, which is unusual. And I'm told that, well, with the Touch and the Nano, you don't really sell a whole lot of Classics anymore-- except to "edge cases" (as a co-worker described me) like myself. Apparently you've stopped selling "click wheel games" in the iTunes store, and, that, along with your commitment to the cloud, has led to widespread speculation that the Classic is on the way out.
Now, I understand that the idea for people like me is, I can upload all my music to the cloud and have unlimited access to it without being stuck lugging around a device. Maybe that's appealing to the majority of your consumers. Let me tell you why it doesn't appeal to me.
First off, I worry that "off-shoring" my music collection to the cloud introduces an opportunity for tolling and taxation and policing. One of the things us heavy music consumers do is, we collect a lot of unauthorized and gray market recordings-- you know, bootlegs. I have a bad feeling that the relationship you have with artists and record companies in your role as a music retailer will lead to policing my ability to enjoy, say, the great 1988 Prince bootleg Small Club. (and by the way, I own pretty much everything Prince has put out, and that's saying something.) Guys, not cool. And then I wonder about fidelity. MP3s and AAC are already a fidelity loss, and my ears can tell the difference. That's fine for portability. But streaming through a wireless connection-- that's got to introduce additional fidelity loss, not to mention delays when the signal is buffered. And lookit, I don't want to now have to rely on the quality and availability of wifi to listen to my music. What about when I'm on that secluded beach? Or on a cross-Atlantic flight? Or, you know, just going through a tunnel in the car?
The cloud isn't going to help me to enjoy music. It's going to hurt my ability to do so. Look, on a very basic level-- right now all I need is an iPod Classic, my headphones (or a speaker dock), and-- well, that's it. With the cloud, I'll need an iPod of some sort, the headphones, and a reliable wireless connection. That isn't an improvement. It introduces a significant gating item to my enjoyment of my own music collection.
So here's the thing. We edge cases are not just the heavy purchasers of music. Within our circles (I picked that term up from Google+), our social networks, our communities, we are also the decision influencers about music, and about all things music. Yes, people do ask my-- our-- opinion on questions like what portable MP3 player to buy, and whether to use iTunes or Amazon to download digital music. As a professional marketer, I want to urge you guys in the most strenuous way I can not to lose your grip on the edge cases, the decision influencers in the music space. To us, the value proposition of as much music as possible in your pocket-- not on the cloud, literally in your pocket-- is extremely resonant and powerful, and it keeps us loyal to Apple.
But if you stop meeting this need and someone else fills it, we're gone. And- this is not a threat, it's marketing advice-- we'll take a ton of customers with us.
So please, keep making the Classic, or alternatively, keep pursuing the consumer benefit of vast local storage in the iPod product line in some other device (if you stop making the Classic but come out with say a 220 gig Touch, I pomise to buy one the day it comes out. And tweet about it.) It might only appeal to a small fraction of your target customer base. But it is my contention that we are an extremely important and influential part of that customer base, and it is good business to retain our loyalty.
Thanks for your consideration.
PS: Know what would be cool? Cross-fade on the iPod. (I don't mean to be greedy, but heck, if I've got your attention...)