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iPod Nano vs. iPod Mini : Competing with themselves?

Why did Apple come up with the Nano when the Mini is the hottest selling accessory on the market now? Wouldn’t they be taking away buyers of the Mini and thus additional revenue for themselves? Why compete with themselves? It may seem bizarre to some, but not so to me after reading a marketing classic by Ries and Trout – Marketing Warfare:

(Click on the link to go to Amazon.com to buy the book.)

According to these two marketing geniuses, there are 4 marketing strategies: Offensive, Defensive, Flanking and Guerilla. You should read the book to find out more, but using their research on real-life examples, the market leader should always play Defensive. And in this Apple case, I guess it is pretty clear that Apple is a market leader.

Okay, this clarified, but why did I say that I wasn’t shocked at Apple taking business away from iPod Mini and thus themselves? Before I go on, let me list down the 3 principles of Defensive strategy:

(1) Only the market leader should consider playing defense.
(2) The best defensive strategy is the courage to attack yourelf.
(3) Strong competitive moves should always be blocked.

- taken from Marketing Warfare by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Applying the 2nd law of Defensive Strategy, by coming up with a new product that makes the old one obsolete is good for Apple because it just makes life harder for competitors who are struggling to catch up. “A moving target is harder to hit than a stationary one” (Marketing Warfare).

The trick is to entice the public to buy something from you whilst they still think you’re great before competitors come in with rival products. Just like how people looking to buy music players might now buy the new much hyped-about iPod Nano rather than explore the possibility of choosing underdogs like Sony’s or Creative’s players. Why go for seconds when you can have something new from the best? As the book touts: “It’s better to take business away from yourself than have someone else do it for you.”



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