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The iPod Cruise, in Brief

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Friday, December 29, 2006
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As much fun as iLounge’s offices are, we think it’s important to venture out into the sunlight on occasion; whether it’s on a business trip, vacation, or anything in between, we spend a bit of time watching to see how people in the places we visit are using their iPods. Just completed, our latest trip was a cruise - a short (four-day) jaunt from Long Beach to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico - mostly for relaxation, yet unexpectedly packed with iPod users.

With over 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members on board, the ship was large enough to make tourist port stops unnecessary: we could have spent the entire duration on board eating, checking out the pools, or playing Name That Tune at the piano bar. As it turned out, we did a little bit of each - okay, a lot of eating - and perhaps not surprisingly, the ship was packed with people using iPods. Besides our family members, who were toting a meager total of 4 iPods between them, we saw white earbuds - and Bose Triports, etc. connected to iPods - on an hourly basis when we were walking around the ship.

Most models were newer - nanos were the most popular, with a few 5G iPods, and no visible shuffles - and they were almost invariably being used solo. In public, we didn’t see any shared headphones or little speaker setups, though we were quizzed at the dinner table by a Christmas nano recipient about which speakers we’d recommend for $100. There was no doubt in our minds that socializing the iPod - finding a way to broaden the popularity of a single unit as a portable entertainment device for several people - could be a really big play for Apple in 2007, a simple, viral way of selling more hardware; turning cruise lines into authorized resellers would be a pretty smart move, too.

Up until now, that hasn’t been necessary: iPods have been marketed as single-person entertainment, and even if we’ve seen endless silhouettes of individuals rocking out to their music, that’s a realistic usage model that matches the device’s most popular applications, and partially explains the effectiveness of Apple’s marketing. Even today, as entry prices have dropped to the $79 level, people still see iPods as their own little musical luxuries, a point we saw underscored when we came ashore in Catalina, a small, U.S.-owned island off the shore of California.

There weren’t many iPod-related shops in Avalon, the more populated and developed part of the island, but there was a Radio Shack with some decent and some junky accessories in the center of the town’s shopping area. White earbud-toting tourists aside, it seemed like the locals knew about the iPod, too. Stopping in a cafe early in the morning after Christmas for coffee, we overheard an employee bragging about her brand new iPod - a nano, we gathered - and acting as if it was the coolest, most exclusive gift on the planet, something her co-worker (or manager) didn’t yet have. We’ve been using iPods for so long - and seen so many changes to the initial unpacking experience, not all positive - that it’s hard to believe that some people are just beginning to feel the magic, and still finding the experience worth bragging about, despite all the changes. Leaving the shop, the big question on our minds was how Apple could sustain that feeling in 2007 - will it continue to create affordable luxuries at various price points, like a “golden iPod shuffle” that looks special even to someone with less money to spend?

Ensenada, Mexico was a more interesting experience. Before venturing out on our own in the city, we did one of the “standard” tours, checking our the geyser La Bufadora and its adjacent flea market-style tourist shopping trap. It wasn’t surprising that we saw no iPods or iPod-related gear in the tourist areas: the flea market was almost entirely packed with inexpensive leather goods, silver jewelry, home decor items, pharmaceuticals, and Lucha Libre masks.

In the heart of downtown Ensenada, however - some distance from a new Wal-Mart and other U.S. stores - there were signs that Apple or its local resellers were working on building up the iPod’s identity. A large screen TV on the side of the major shopping drag featured an old fashioned dancing silhouettes commercial, followed by an Apple logo; from a distance, it looked like a real iPod advertisement, and probably was one, albeit old.

But other than the ones we saw on tourists, there weren’t a lot of other signs of iPod presence on Ensenada’s streets, whether new models, old models, expensive ones or cheap ones. We left with the impression that bigger Mexican cities - and ones not so touristy - were probably better places for iPodspotting. Mexican readers, any thoughts or comments?

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Comments

1

Tax deduction for cruise vacation: Check. smile

Posted by Podophile on December 29, 2006 at 8:52 PM (PDT)

2

Nah. It was a gift from family.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on December 29, 2006 at 9:22 PM (PDT)

3

Just teasing. It looks really nice. I actually went on my first cruise in October… 10 days to the Caribbean… totally loved it. Planning another one for 2007. Vacations are good.

Posted by podophile on December 29, 2006 at 11:55 PM (PDT)

4

ipod prices are going down in mexico, and that has resulted in increased sales (obviously). my first ipod was a mini 4gb in 04 and it cost me the equivalent of 550usd at an apple store in guadalajara, which was (and still is) out of reach of most people it is targeted to. the nano 8gb now retails for about 300usd, including 15% sales tax, which is not too bad. black market ipods are cheaper, but you cant deduct them from taxes (a big consideration for me. i teach university and work out a lot and have noticed the number of ipods increasing dramatically since 2005. before then, they were a rare sight

Posted by 13ig13utt on December 29, 2006 at 11:55 PM (PDT)

5

13ig13utt: Whereabouts are you in Mexico? Any other details you can provide? Thanks!

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on December 30, 2006 at 8:29 AM (PDT)

6

Yeah the ipods are more popular in mexico, i use to have a 4g 40gb color, was like 700usd plus tax, and now they are cheapper, not like usa, but are cheapper than they were, i.e: ipod shuffle 2g = 100usd, and u see alot of people with them in the streets

Posted by Jonathan on December 30, 2006 at 12:26 PM (PDT)

7

If you live on Catalina a gallon of milk will cost you about what an iPod does so that might explain the lack iPod-ness for the local scene. wink  Although I bet they sold iTunes gift cards at the Ralphs there.

Posted by superape on December 30, 2006 at 2:00 PM (PDT)

8

Im going to Domican Next Week and ill see how many ipod there will be at my resort(prop lots cause its tourists from canada and usa) but im going into puta cana so ill look!

Posted by Eric Lewis on December 30, 2006 at 3:48 PM (PDT)

9

I live in Mexico and I got one of the first 1G iPods just after they were announced. Since then I had a 3G (that I sold recently) and now I own a 5G.
I remember that in those first days (when it was mac only) everybody looked at my ipod with admiration and curiosity. Now when I take public transport, either in Mexico City or in Monterrey, I count at least 4 or 5 ipods out there, and lots of cars having the white Apple sticker.
Without making noise I think the iPod is a huge success in Mexico. All my close relatives and friends have one, and I have only meet one person owning a Creative player.

Posted by joakod on December 31, 2006 at 9:51 AM (PDT)

10

Hi, i live in Mexico City, and let me tell you that there’s a lot of iPod owners here, at least at my school, because it’s almost full of preppys, people with money, they normally get their iPods in a weekend trip to USA because the price of an iPod over here is normally 30 to 100 usd higher and even if they got the money to travel to miami or las vegas for a weekend, they don’s want to waste their money in overexagerated sales tax (15%). iPods are still kind of luxury, except the shuffle of course which is the most affordable one… normally people with a 4g or 5g iPod have a car too, its really hard to see people with iPods in Buses or subways for two reasons: 1. if you use public transportation is normally because you don’t really have a loooot of money, and 2. because if you do have money to buy a 300 dls iPod you don’t want to risk it there, it’s not safe, you might get robbed or something worst… so that’s a little bit about iPods in Mexico, if you want to know more, just ask, bye.

Posted by gaVriel on December 31, 2006 at 1:10 PM (PDT)

11

Hi, I live in Mexico City, I’m an owner of 5th Gen iPod and a new shuffle, three weeks ago, I was looking for a Nano 2nd Gen for my girlfriend and went to a department store, they were having a special offer sale, and beleive me, there were all kind of iPods, Nanos, 5th. Gen, U2, blacks, whites, and they dissapeared just in 45 minutes, I was one of the first costumers to arrive, and I saw this kind of desperation from people trying to get their iPods for Xmas gift, there are a lot of iPods down here in Mexico, you’ll be surprised. Teh problem is that we do not have access to iTunes store… Apple, what are you waiting?

Posted by Luis on December 31, 2006 at 1:25 PM (PDT)

12

I live in Mexico, I have a 2G 10Gb iPod, (firewire and mac only) since 2002. At that time, just a few people was aware of the iPod, now is very common.

In my city, (Hermosillo) prices usually are high, +100USD for the same model in the US, and sometimes discontinued models keep their introduction prices until are sold.

Accessories are a different thing, I have bought a few of them with price very close to the US, if you add US taxes and mexican taxes, plus currency exchange, is better for me to buy in Mexico. Example:  I bought the ExtremeMac RoadShow for my 5G 30Gb at local Sears for $575 pesos, same model in US is 49.95 USD. + tax.

No many options, no stock, sometimes discontinued models, higher prices but if you are lucky you can get a very good deal.

And just like joadkod says, that white apple sticker is spotted very often, now.

Happy New Year for everyone.

Posted by roman on January 1, 2007 at 4:41 PM (PDT)

13

Hello, I live in Mexico City too, Im chief editor of http://www.pdamexico.net, over there we like a lot the idea of converged devices such as the Treo and we really believe that a PDA is capable to replace an iPod. I have been using PDAs and Smartphones for over 5 years but guess what??

Last october, as my birthday gift, my mom buy me a iPod Nano second generation, the 8 gigs version, and let me tell you that I now believe that in many, many ways, the sole ipod experience overcome the audio and daily use of any kind of converged device.

The ipod experience was so good to me that I even wrote down a little review with my toughts about it:

http://www.pdamexico.net/content/view/2957/

Let me tell you, that at least on the main central area of Mexico, that is conformed by Mexico City, the entire surrounding areas of the Estado de México and Pachuca, Puebla, Toluca and Cuernavaca are filled with iPods. I really, really doubt that other major cities as Guadalajara, Monterrey, Mérida and other places are in the same situation. I have seen lots of people in streets that look very poor, but with something that impress a lot…White earbuds connected to nanos or shuffles. You can see this kind of rarities all over the cities. In the other hand, the ipod for the richiests is not a luxury anymore, is a necessity. As gaVriel said the youngsters, daughters and sons from the medium-high and high´s one levels, I bet you, more than a 50% of them have or had have ipod´s. The most interesting market for portable audio devices here in Mexico and latin america in general is in the other hand, believe me, the shuffle and nanos are beeing one of the most sell devices because of their low price but also, because they are status symbol as you already see on Ensenada with the girl who just receive an ipod and was happily showing it to the people.

I can only assure all of you one thing:

the Apple phone its going to be something that will be remembered for decades….

Posted by Luis Alberto Arjona Chin on January 1, 2007 at 5:23 PM (PDT)

14

oh yeah, i live in guadalajara. many people buy bootleg white earbuds and hook em up to whatever they have - so white earbuds dont necessarily mean ipod. i always used black sennheissers or sonys cuz they sound and fit 13etter….and i dont look like a fashion victim. whatever

ps…my jeep dealertold me i bought the first ipod integration kit theyve sold. i found that a little hard to believe. it works pretty good and beats any fm transmitter hands down. price was steep though, 330usd. yikes

Posted by 13ig13utt on January 2, 2007 at 10:38 AM (PDT)

15

Im actually from Rosarito, so im like 40 miles from Ensenada. iPods are very popular here, the fact that none were seen is probably because no local residents tend to be in turist areas. Everybody i know practically has one,  and their sister. I mylself have gone trhu 6 ipods, starting with the mini. What helped a lot in making the iPod popular in this area is the fact that you can cross the border and go buy it to San Diego, that way you save a ton, becauase local places tend to have them for almost double the price of their US retail value.

rest assured were big ipod fans here in Baja, hope next time you bump into with some the classic white headphones, i know i do, everyday.

Posted by ivn. on January 5, 2007 at 6:43 PM (PDT)

16

I live in Monterrey,(arguably) the 2nd biggest city in Mexico.
My first iPod was a 3G, which i updated with a 4G with color screen, and then, with a 30GB 5G. I also own a 2nd Gen red nano for my car. Back when I had my 3Gen, everyone stared at me and my iPod curiosly, but now, having an iPod is very common.

The iPod is extremely popular here. Almost everyone in my office has one, even some of my friends have more than one. You can see a lot of iPods in private colleges and high schools. My 2 older brothers, now married with children, also own iPods. Everyone in my fianceé‘s family owns an iPod.

There’s a lot of stores where you can get iPods here. Every big departamental store sells them, such as JC-Penney and Sears; also Wal-Mart, Radio-Shack, Office Depot, Soriana, Gigante and H.E.B. have them in stock. What’s becoming increasingly popular here in Monterrey are the Apple-oriented stores, that sell everything Apple, from iPod shuffles to Power Macs and monitors, so its a good to have a lot of people selling iPods, as prices are getting lower and lower, also due to the government reducing import taxes on iPods and similar devices.

Here in Monterrey, is relatively easy to travel to the U.S. and go shopping (the Texas border is a 2 hr drive), so its fairly easy to get iPods and other merchandise, at least cheaper than here. I guess that’s why people in the northern part of the country own iPods to a bigger degree than other parts of the country…

As other people also mention, you can find plenty of counterfit or imitation iPods on flea markets, often times confusing people, who think they’re actually getting a legit iPod (specially people with lower incomes)...

So, as you can imagine, you can spot A LOT of white earbuds here…

Posted by Ivan on January 8, 2007 at 10:05 AM (PDT)

17

I live in Mexico City, right now my ipod collection is 1-3rd Gen, 1-ipod photo, 1-shufle 1st Gen, 2-nanos 2nd Gen, 1-5th Gen, like me my brother has his own collection, my cousins, uncles, we enjoy to run so we all have ipod+nike stuff, where I work almost everyone owns an ipod, I think the market is getting bigger with the prices, promotions and xmas gifts, almost all models were sold out for the holidays, we have something called, ‘meses sin intereses’ so you can buy something and pay it in 6, 12 or 18 months with no interest fees, so that’s a great way to buy the most frequent ipod you can spot in the street is the nano, 1st & 2nd gen.

you can find ipod & accessories almost everywhere, department stores, supermarkets, specialized stores, apple is getting more and more popular, we don’t have an apple store but now you can find in stores like office max and office depot a dedicated place to apple products

Posted by Sajid on January 8, 2007 at 1:15 PM (PDT)

18

I live in Reynosa, Tamaulipas (border town with Mcallen, TX) and ALL of my friends have iPods. After the 5G iPod came out, Everyone I know got one (including myself). We buy them in the US because they’re cheaper, but they do sell them in Reynosa. I don’t know why they don’t buy nanos, they get the 5G because it plays video but they don’t know how to put it in the iPod. Most people have from 300 to 500 songs and their music is mostly Mexican (regaeeton, norteña, etc) but they also listen to rock and pop in English.

Posted by abeyk on January 13, 2007 at 9:55 AM (PDT)

19

Hi!

I live in Acapulco, Mexico and definitely you can see lots of iPods (in their armbands) walking along the beach side avenue.

I think Ensenada is a small town so a gadget depending life has nothing to do with them.

You can see advertisements and resellers on mid or big cities.

Even though, there are lots of Apple resellers we need desperately an official Apple Store and an iTUNES STORE we need urgently iTunes Store!

Here in my city you can get Apple stuff through Sam’s Club, Office Max and Office Depot.

And, as you had may be already saw, Mexico is the cheapest country in Latin America to buy an iPod, and on the world rank is just one step above the US.

Posted by Jorge on January 23, 2007 at 2:18 AM (PDT)

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