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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wired Cola salutes Apple 

Here at Wired Cola, we're all about leveraging synergy in our quest to become the most cybermorphic purveyor of fictive beverages the world™ (a trademark of Globadom® LLC) has ever known.

But this is our corporate blog, and here today, we're going to leverage a little synergy by paying homage to our friends in the marketing department at Apple ("don't say 'computer') Inc., who revealed two clever things today, one of them even beverage-related.

The first revelation we want to discuss is the Apple-Starbucks synergy. In sum, it's thus: when you get within striking distance of a Wi-Fi hotspot hosted by one of these newly upgraded Starbucks shops, a little Starbucks icon appears on your iPhone or your iPhone-minus-Phone, aka iPod Touch. Tap that poor little virtual button, and you can browse the music currently playing in the Starbucks, and if it fills you with the same joy as a Venti Mocha Frappuccino, you can buy it right there.

That's it. I'm not making this up. They're rolling it out to New York and Seattle Starbuckses in October, and wave after wave of Starbucksae will be upgraded from then to the end of 2008.

Frankly, it seems they could have done more with this. Hopefully in Starbucks 3.0 (or is that iPhone 2.5/iPod Touch 2.0?), you will be able to see the daily drink specials right on your mobile convergence device, and check the sell-by dates of the scary cookies, too. And if you like what you see, you can order and pay for it, right through your iWhatsit!

Actually, come to think of it, that's a slightly less stupid idea than the actual iStarbucks convergence that actually got rolled out today.

That brings us to the second thing Apple revealed, which has nothing to do with beverages, so I hardly know why I'm mentioning it.

Apple cut the price of the "real" iPhone to $399 today, a mere 67 days after launching the device.

Why? Dumb question: because $399 was the real price of the device all along. Mr. Daring Fireball sums up the matter in two perfect paragraphs, which explain exactly what happened.

Nonetheless, inessential elaboration is a core competence here at Wired Cola, so here goes: nobody else in recent mass-marketing nerd-toy hype vending has tried anything like this. The usual formula is that you try to make your your PlayBox Wii60 sells out within days, and is then unavailable to normal humans for months, while speculators float vast rafts of said product in the safe harbors of eBay and Craigslist.

Apple decided to be its own speculator: A million people wanted this thing badly enough to pay $200 more than Apple really needed to charge for it, and put that money directly in Apple's hands. The result was that demand was choked just enough to match supply (iPhones have been continuously available, more or less, since launch day), speculation was unprofitable and virtually nonexistent, and just as a side note, I estimate this play made about $200 million in pure profit for Apple, over and above what they would probably consider "normal margins."

We here at Wired Cola, when we hear a marketing tale like that, well, we just salute the perpetrators. Are you sure this is the same company that's doing that Starbucks thing?

Oh, by the way, here's my opinion of the rest of the stuff: Shuffles are stocking stuffers, the new Nano is ugly but functional, the biggest iPod Classic ("Classic" means "we're going to kill this off soon") is justifiable only as a multifunction detachable storage device, the Touch, at only $100 less than the iPhone, is a waste of time for Americans, but will be a hot seller in parts of the planet out of range of the AT&T network. the WiFi store may sell iPod Touches all on its own, and is a genius play that was a bit overdue.

In other words, Apple will sell, according to my carefully tuned estimates, roughly a zillion iPods in the next four months, and approximately half a zillion iPhones.

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