Last week it was Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo dissing the iPod shuffle
as being "worse than the cheapest Chinese player,"
(ouch!). Now it's Dell CEO Kevin Rollins's turn to take a swipe at Apple, calling the iPod a "fad", that Apple isn't
"in the same league as Dell", and, well, we better just quote him in full:
It's interesting the iPod has been out for three years and it's only this past year it's become a raging success. Well those things that become fads rage and then they drop off. When I was growing up there was a product made by Sony called the Sony Walkman – a rage, everyone had to have one. Well you don't hear about the Walkman anymore. I believe that one product wonders come and go. You have to have sustainable business models, sustainable strategy…[The Mac mini] might take some here and there, but Apple's market share in the global computer business has really shrunk pretty far. Where they've been making success recently is not in the computer business, but in the iPod music business. So this might be an interesting new product but I'm not really believing this is going to turn the industry upside down.
He did try to hedge a bit and make it clear that Apple has done a nice job with the iPod and all that, but isn't
calling Apple out for focusing on digital music and not on selling a lot of computers sort of missing the point? PCs
are becoming commodities, and whether or not it's a flash in the pan (we're staying Swiss on this one), Apple is
obviously placing its bets on the mega-profitable iPod as the key to its future, not the Mac (notice how they're using
the iPod to drive sales of Macs and not the other way around? Notice how infrequently you see television ads for any
kind of Mac?). The big question is: when MP3 players more or less become commodities too, will people still pay a
premium for the iPod? Rollins obviously thinks time is on Dell's side with this one, and it'll be a few more years
before we know who is right.