iPod sadness in Singapore | iLounge Backstage

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iPod sadness in Singapore

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Monday, November 27, 2006
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We’ll start this entry with the following message: we love Singapore. The last few days here have been fun, delicious, and filled with interesting shopping. But as iPod fans, we haven’t been very happy with what we’ve seen here - an environment that seems no better for the iPod than it was at this time last year, and actually looked a bit worse from what we could gather.

In last year’s report, we noted that iPods were available all over the place for purchase, and we actively saw people shopping for them and carrying them around. This year, we’ve seen fewer people using or buying iPods relative to last year - a surprise given that Apple is now offering several less expensive models - but we’ve witnessed many people using lots of Apple’s emerging competitors: music-ready cell phones.

If Singapore is in any way a harbinger of what’s to come elsewhere in the world, Apple’s long-rumored move into iPod-enabled cell phones is more important and necessary than some people in the West have realized. Countless numbers of people here are carrying phones with MP3 playback features - Sony Walkman phones seem to have made some nice gains - and non-iPod flash players seem to be fairly ubiquitous. As always, there are cheesy low-end and knock-off offerings out there - see the cloned Oakley Thumps here - but there are also simple screened alternatives to the shuffle that appear to be pretty popular.

Having spent plenty of time looking to see what people are wearing, we’ve seen only a few nanos, one full-sized iPod and a couple of shuffles over the course of several days here - absolutely nothing by comparison with what the streets of Japan looked like last week. One of the nano owners had bundled his cell phone and first-generation nano together in a bag, pulling them out at the same time, something we also noticed happening once in a while in Japan.

On the vendor and accessory fronts, re-visits to stores we checked last year were nothing short of disappointing. Smaller, unauthorized shops aren’t pushing the iPod as aggressively as they were last year, and there was very little new to see - no major or even minor new accessories - with competing offerings from mostly no-name companies taking iPod store frontage. Bigger MP3 player companies such as Cowon, iRiver, and Sony had fair representation at these shops, but on the flip side, Creative is nowhere near as strong as it was last year - no longer are its advertisements ubiquitous around here.

Apple-only retailers weren’t much better. Mid-sized shops such as Apple Centres are only a little more interesting in that they’ve adopted large banners to tout the products of major vendors, such as Griffin, Belkin, and DLO, which place these companies in the same eye-catching visual position as third-party vendors such as Targus receive in PC-specific stores. The products? Again, nothing new. We saw a total of one type of second-generation iPod shuffle case - surprise, simple silicone - and offerings such as headphones and speakers seemed a surprising step behind even the Japanese retailers we checked last week. On the bright side, major U.S. vendors have significantly improved their offerings in Singapore, and now have plenty of products available for purchase here - the majority of good items we’ve seen in Japan and the United States.

Bigger iPod-selling shops? Pretty much the same story. Oft touted as the country’s biggest Apple Store, iShop by Club 21 lacked for both energy and new products on our return visit - one year after its opening, it’s looking more like a large U.S. Apple Store than anything unique at this point. We were actually actively disappointed during our visit to iShop, which refused to fulfill an advertised promotion on iPod hardware - 15% off iPod shuffles and nanos, shown on a large sign as we entered the shop. When we tried to buy a shuffle, which was in stock, the store’s employees pulled the sign rather than honor their stated pricing. Given the locations of the country’s Apple Centres, we didn’t have much of a reason to want to shop there before, and were so unimpressed by the experience that we wouldn’t advise others to do so, either.

One interesting additional tidbit: we were frankly stunned by the quantity of advertising space Microsoft has purchased for its Xbox 360 products. Signs that once touted iPods and other Apple products have been replaced by Xbox 360 and related ads, greeting visitors to places such as the Funan IT Mall. We also saw no evidence of the iPod cross-promotions we noticed last year, which even touted iPod nanos as prizes for dining at certain restaurants - from what we gathered, there’s no apparent sense in the air any more that iPods are a “must-have” or even major luxury item. The average visitor would have guessed that Apple had given up on trying to win mindshare in Singapore, or was beaten out for advertising space by competitors. We’re hoping that neither is the case, as we love this country and would hate to see it forgotten.

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Comments

1

Honestly I am not sure whats the bottom line in this article (?)

Singaporean are some of the cheapest people on the planet, and they will always look for the cheapest deal in town. iPods are the most expensive mp3 player out there, therefore the average Singapore would not buy it. This always been the case. Most iPod buyer would be either tourists or foreigners who live in Singapore.

Posted by O on November 27, 2006 at 7:08 AM (PDT)

2

Well it looks like the Zune will be a flop, and the Xbox 360 is going with it. Apple trying to get a message out there, but Microsoft has got far to much ads in the last pic. For me that the marketing dept trying to save their jobs, and many others.

Posted by ryan10ad on November 27, 2006 at 9:13 AM (PDT)

3

Hi guys, and guys of iLounge, I am from Singapore, I am a big Mac user of course so I have a 5th gen 60G iPod, a 1st gen 4G nano and a 1st gen shuffle.

I carry an iPod everyday and if I go to the gym, I carry both my iPod and the nano.

I don’t know where you are looking at, but in my gym, and my everyday commute from home to work on my MRT trains, I see lots of people listening to their iPods, the by-now super familar white ear buds say it all.

I have already seen quite a number of people carrying the new nanos.

New Apple-related shops are being opened, the newest at Suntec City called eLife or something, replacing the old Harvey Norman.

So I don’t think Singapore(ans) have “forgotten” Apple and the iPods, you are just not looking at the right places??

Wait till the iPhone is here.  Unlike in the U.S., we change mobile phones quite often, and buying just the phone without a plan is a very COMMON thing here.

So I think the iPhone will do quite well here.

Cheers

Posted by howwow in Singapore on November 27, 2006 at 9:48 AM (PDT)

4

I don’t know why you seem to like Singaporean electronics retailers so much, because it’s highly likely that the reason they refused you the discount on iPods was because you were immediately figured for foreigners and thus gullible and fair game. I mean, opinions on the country are up for debate (I myself think it’s painfully dull and dubious, but that’s irrelevant and hence parenthetical) but the electronics retailers are among the most cut-throat around. And no, I don’t think what’s happening in Singapore is a harbinger for the rest of the world - in Malaysia & Singapore in general people don’t really care about music that much, and I think the iPod only really caught on in Singapore because of how cool it is. Now it’s getting to be old news, a bit, and hence falling behind (it’s nowhere near as essential to a Singaporean as a cell phone). Once Apple releases a phone and the video iPod, though, interest should rise again. Not that it matters much. China matters, Korea matters, Japan matters, India matters, and in the general region Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand matter - in the numerical scheme of things Singapore is an unimportant market, and largely a follower market rather than a trendsetter so even from the point of view of image it matters little whether Singaporeans like something or not.

Posted by Jeremy Mahadevan on November 27, 2006 at 11:00 AM (PDT)

5

Yeah. Japan and South Korea are the trendsetters in world electronics. Singapore (to steal from William Gibson) is Disneyland with the Death Penalty[1].

I do think Apple needs to get on with the iPhone soon though. That trend is increasing fast especially as the one competent division of Sony seems to be all over the idea. Who would have thought that five years down the road Sony Ericsson would be the best functioning group and have the best products in all of Sonyland while the Playstation division is in utter disarray.


[1] Wired article from around a decade ago.

Posted by Wednesday Keller on November 27, 2006 at 4:50 PM (PDT)

6

We spent a lot of time looking around all across the city - iPods were much less conspicuous (frighteningly so, actually) than we’ve seen before. As always, we tried to check the city’s hot spots and less hot spots to form a complete picture, lus MRT rides, extended walks, visits to shops in the city’s diverse neighborhoods. We can only report what we see.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on November 27, 2006 at 4:53 PM (PDT)

7

I live in singapore, 1 out of 2 person i know carries an ipod, into the train, the clubs, almost everywhere. I have seen young kids, secretary, all kinds of people. Maybe you have not step into a college school here, see how many students have an ipod. ipod is not cheap here. people who buy ipod here either see the value or purchase it for the cool factor. either way, ipod is just an ipod, a music player. most savvy teens and young adults here, have a mp3 player, one of the latest phone (most people have their phone change at least once a year) and a pda or maybe a pda phone.

and btw, there are lots of people who love music in singapore just like any other place.

btw? whats the point of this article? decline of ipod sales in singapore? or not enough ipod third party products? or? neither enlightening or statistically objective. no data to boot.

Posted by ipodsinceday1 on November 27, 2006 at 8:15 PM (PDT)

8

Singapore is a big iPod island.  I guess you have not really had much time to expose yourself around.  Apple’s iPod is #1 and Creative Zens follow. 

But i think it’s true that music phones are getting more popular especially the Sony Ericsson walkman series.  People would rather bring one device for both calling and music.

Posted by joey on December 8, 2006 at 1:06 AM (PDT)

9

Perhaps you just didn’t see enough. the feeling is that there’s a lot of people carrying music-enabled cellphones but there are also those with mp3 players and ipods. I don’t think the demand here is lower now than last year. Rather, I suppose most people wouldn’t hang it around them or they just keep it in their bags. I know I do. For irrelevant opinions like Singapore being unimportant, dull, we don’t like music as much, put them up elsewhere especially for those who have never visited the country. Certainly, there are things I do not like here but in general, it’s a great place to live in. Much as Singapore is small, we are important not in terms of market share but more for being a gateway to the Apac region. Like one poster pointed out, people change phone here more often than anything. So if the iPhone is ever launched, there will be great interest especially when our telco phones aren’t locked like those in Europe or US. In fact, Apple has said that they will bring iTunes store here in the near future. Not everyone wants the cheapest stuff, like everywhere else there are different groups.

Posted by ipodee on December 19, 2006 at 12:21 AM (PDT)

10

hey, i want to know wheather it is worth buying i pods in singapore,does it looks cheaper

Posted by vivek on September 9, 2008 at 9:47 PM (PDT)

11

Apparently, some of you have said it wrong. in the streets, I see plenty of people listening to music on their ipods. I ‘ve got many average friends who carry them.

Posted by Pearlyn on June 22, 2009 at 10:51 AM (PDT)

12

Hi Guys!!! I’m From Singapore And I’m Trying To Find Games For My iPod Nano 5th Generation But Singapore Apple Store Does Not Have It. Please Help Me. Email Me At .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Hope Someone Can Help Me.
Thanks

Posted by Syahmi on April 4, 2010 at 6:31 AM (PDT)

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