We’ve been off for a while tweaking some of our methods and increasing the range of our coverage on channel checks. We’er back now and we believe you can expect to see a broader range of topics covered and in greater depth.We’ll start with Apple (the favorite topic of our small but growing audience apparently). We ran three new channel checks on Apple one on the iPod, one on the new Apple TV and one on the pending iPhone. We’ll start with the iPod survey. We found that 23 of 54 (43%) electronics retailers we spoke with recommended a competing MP3 player as the best one to buy. When we asked what was the BEST MP3 player in the market Apple iPod dominated with about 80% of respondents citing Apple. It looks to us like Creative Micro’s Zen MP3 product line is competing well at the high end of the MP3 market against iPod’s while the Sandisk Sansa product line is cited most often as a solid low-end option. The Sansa competes most directly with the Shuffle and Nano from Apple.
The most interesting finding for us was that at Best Buy some respondents were pushing the Insignia MP3 player product line. We had not heard of this brand but discovered that Insignia is the Best Buy white label brand (see story at http://www.gadgetell.com/2006
Apple TV is now in stores as we write this. It was not available generally when we conducted our survey. The takeway from our survey on Apple TV was that most respondents felt it would be a good product but would serve a niche Apple-centric market.
iPhone was the most interesting survey for us even as the launch date is debated at other web sites and by commentators. We found two key indicators of good demand for the iPhone in our survey. First, Cingular stores are taking names for a waiting list for these phones. In our experience this rarely happens in the cell phone industry. Second, Cingular store representatives are encouraging us to wait for the iPhone and forego buying a new phone today. Again, this is almost unheard of, especially when we consider that most cell phone salespeople are compensated for hitting daily sales quotas - driving them to try and sell phones today, not threee months from now. Apple has publicly targeted 10M iPhone units as its early sales goal. We understand that Apple is having 12M built. We believe that the iPhone will sell out and that unit sales will be over the 12M initial production run that Apple has ordered. We believe that Hon Hai (AKA Foxconn) is the manufacturere for iPhone product.