Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Marketing in Technology

Marketing is the red-headed step child of the technology world. It doesn't bring in money, like sales, it doesn't understand the technology, like engineering, and it seems soft and addled to anyone who looks at it, unlike finance. To some degree this is fair, the Marketing departments of most technology companies are soft and addled and do little to bring value to the company.

One exception is Apple. Their two new products in yesterday's Macworld are triumphs of marketing. Not engineering, not sales, not design, not usability, but marketing.

First, consider the iPod Shuffle. Flash drive mp3 player with no screen -- you just put in your 120 songs and it plays them back randomly. This was driven by the marketing insight that many iPod users just set their machine on random play, something that I do all the time and that I may have commented on on this blog. My brother is considering an iPod and rejected the Shuffle because he "wants control over his urban audio experience." Picking the songs and letting the machine go through them randomly is a great way to get a good "urban audio experience" but since he has never actually owned an iPod, he does not know this yet. Hmmm, I wonder if the iPod Shuffle market will be limited to joggers and those who have already owned an iPod and know how well the random playlist feature works?

Secondly, consider the Mac Mini. $500 to get OS X and storage. Again, this is driven by the marketing insight that the PC market is saturated, many PC owners aren't going to switch but may augment, and that they already own a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, but may be short of space on their desk. There is no new technology in this tiny marvel, just very intelligent feature editting and pricing.

Great stuff.

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