Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Memo to Steve Jobs: Sell Ipods preloaded with music

Last week while in San Francisco we stumbled across the Apple store, and I told my wife I'd like to give it a visit. She agreed. Next thing I knew, she was plugged into an Ipod, listening away to sample music.

The Ipod clearly caught her attention. She loved the sound -- and Apple cleverly had a nice sample of music, including songs she liked.

A couple of years ago I bought her an original Ipod for Christmas, and it didn't work out:

  • The Ipod was too big. The new Mini, she feels she could carry.
  • The software for Windows, at the time licensed by Apple from Musicmatch, didn't suit her.
  • There was a hardware problem with the unit; the disk skipped periodically.

But now I'm thinking maybe it's time to try again. As I wandered the Apple store, I stumbled on the U2 Ipod, co-branded with the band, featuring autographs of U2 band members on the back. Hmm, I thought -- why are there no U2 songs on this unit? Wouldn't you ship the U2 Ipod with U2 music?

As we left the store, Judy joked that she'd have to hire a teenager to load all the songs she loves.

Lightbulb! Many people who buy Ipods want to load new music. But many folks want to load their favorite songs and albums from the past. And for many folks, those albums are on scratchy LPs in the basement, for which they have no turntables to play.

And even if you have your 100 favorite albums on CD, it's going to take time to load them all to your Ipod.

So here's the idea, Mr. Jobs: combine the Ipod and Itunes ideas. Let me order an Ipod over the Web, and let me buy the songs or albums I want up-front. Offer a sliding scale: if I buy 1000 songs, sell 'em to me for a fraction of your 99 cent fee. Offer special deals for older material, so I don't have to spend big bucks to get my favorite Allman Brothers material.

I can easily imagine someone spending $300 for an Ipod and $300 to get the 100 albums of all time they love pre-installed. As they discover new music, they buy it from Itunes.


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