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Quickie, off-the-cuff reaction to today's iPod/iTunes announcements

It's been a long day, and I still have to head out to see some folks for dinner, so I won't have time for a long write-up until tomorrow at the earliest. But here are some early reactions to what Apple announced today.

Dominant. Apple controls 73.4 percent of the market for MP3 players in the United States, roughly equivalent to IE's Web browser share. Apple has sold over 160 million iPods since 2001. And customers have downloaded over 100 million iPhone apps from the App Store in just two months. (OK, most were free.)

Incremental. It's official, folks. The iPod market is now mature. There wasn't a single major announcement at today's event. Nothing. If you think that's bad, though, look at the Zune: They had Apple right where they wanted them (i.e. with nothing cool to announce) and couldn't even pull a new device out of its hat. Sigh.

"New" iPod nano. Or as I call it, the second-generation iPod mini. Or the second coming of the first generation nano. Or Apple's version of the flash-based Zune. Whatever you call it, one thing is clear: Last year's "fattie" iPod nano was clearly not the success they were looking for. Back to the drawing boards. Oh, I do like the colors though. And the accelerometer is interesting. Why isn't it in the classic?

"New" iPod touch. OK, they lowered the price. And they added back iPhone features like a speaker and external volume toggles that quite frankly should have been there in the first place. Do we salute Apple for that? No. No, we don't.

iPod classic. Now even more classic than last year. It wasn't changed at all beyond a new 120 GB hard drive option. Yawn.

iTunes 8. Now more like Windows Media Player than ever. This is the one I need to spend the most time with, but it looks very incremental. I like that HD content is now available on the iTunes Store. Are there new HD iPod profiles out there for QuickTime now?

NBC shows are back. I love this one, and it's another example of Apple being the bad guy. A year ago, NBC left iTunes because Apple wouldn't give them the variable pricing they wanted. Apple claimed (and its closest iCabal fanatics parroted) that NBC just wanted to sell TV shows for more than $1.99. But that wasn't true: They wanted to sell older shows for just 99 cents per episode. And longer, mini-series-type shows for $2.99. Now, in the words of the New York Times, "both sides now say they got what they wanted." Put another way, Apple caved to NBC's reasonable and customer-centric demands and NBC got what it wanted. Bravo.

iPhone software update 2.1. It wasn't cool when the original iPhone 2.0 software was so buggy it made us yearn for the days of Macintosh System 6. It was equally uncool when version 2.0.1 didn't fix any of the serious problems. And it was even more uncool when 2.0.2 didn't just not fix the biggest problems, but it introduced its own new problems. Now, Apple is claiming that iPhone 2.1 will solve the problems. I don't believe them. And I'd really like to know why my iPhone isn't updating to this new version right now.

Apple TV. What? Nothin'?

Steve Jobs' health. It's unfunny when you repeat a tired joke, Mr. Jobs, but we're glad you're OK. No, we really are.

Oh, and one more thing. There was no one more thing. And that stinks. Because these announcements don't amount to much more than a cheerleading session for continued dominance.

Off to dinner. More tomorrow...

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