Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Chennai tunes in iPod

Do the iPod and similar devices enjoy good reception in Chennai? A snapshot of the scene

THIS Valentine's Day the most sought after gift was the iPod. Think that's unromantic? Think again. Most people simply love being gifted such `small wonders.'
It's been six-odd months since the iPod hit Chennai. Sony has launched its version, the Network Walkman. A homemade version also exists. Richie Street, a busy lane off the arterial Anna Salai in Chennai, sells many more at unthinkable prices. Brands abroad may soon enter the home markets. eWorld takes a look at how comfortable Chennaiites are with this technology...
Talking of the Apple iPod series, Suresh, marketing manager, Auto Media Inc, a reseller of Apple products, says, "This product is only a small external hard disk to store songs. It is customised and has many capacities. It has better clarity than a CD during playback. The apple Shuffle is a 512 MB device and selling well across the markets. Sales for the last six months have been 2-3 pieces per month in the 20 GB model and 4-5 in the Shuffle model. In the future we expect at least 60 per cent growth in sales."

But with hardly any publicity or advertisements, how can one expect to see more people buying the product? He replies, "It is very easy to learn to use this device. It is the technology of the future. Once people get hooked, there is no turning back. Word of mouth will work. The day is not far when lay men will feel comfortable using it."
Priced from Rs 6,200 onwards (the Shuffle) and ranging from Rs 14,000 to Rs 25,000 for high-end models, is the product worth the price?
Partha Sarathi Bhattacharyya, Branch Manager, Ample Technologies, says, "The iPod is affordable for the features it offers, such as photo storage, hard disk space and music playback facility." Will we see a war of the brands?
Mohammed Aashiq, Trade and Marketing, Sony India, says, "As far as the customer is concerned, Sony means quality. We have customers for life. They don't mind the pricing. This product (Sony's Network Walkman) is much sleeker than the iPod. In the first month we sold around 20 numbers. We get 4-5 enquiries every day about the product. Our model E50 is selling well and we expect at least a 40 per cent growth over the next six months. We are going in for publicity, and this too will draw more customers."
Exclusive showrooms have the advantage of product visibility. But what are a retail store's chances?
Farook, salesman at Digital World, VGP Mall, Mount Road, feels only the affluent class can afford these devices. "For those without computers, it would be a waste to buy a product just to listen to songs."
But for students, especially hostelites, such a product may come in handy as they cannot carry music systems around. The store has a similar product for Rs 4,975 — the Transcend, JetFlash. Primarily used to store data (256 MB), it has features similar to an iPod's. "We have sold 20 pieces of this in the last 6 months," he says.
An assistant at BOSE showroom, Ispahani Centre, says, "People coming from abroad know about these products. Theybuy it there as it is cheaper and bring it to us to learn the operations and for servicing it. As of now, it can be of use to music lovers who travel frequently."
But would Chennaites be willing to shell out money just to listen to songs?
Arun, a hostelite, says, "Where will we download the music from? Even to transfer songs from CDs one needs a computer, which is not allowed in the hostel room. It is not worth buying costly products just to listen to songs.
It is not safe to carry it on the train as it can be stolen easily. My friends have lost cell-phones and Walkmans! So this, being small in size, will not be missed until one gets home."
Avinash, an IT professional, says the iPod"gives amazing clarity of music. The scroll option is great. I am saving money to buy one soon."
Revathy, homemaker, feels "These things are very costly. I am happy with the Walkman I use. The extra features will be of no use to me."
Neelakantan, who retired from his job seven years ago, watches TV to pass time. Ask him about the iPod and he says, "I don't know what it is." After one explains its use, he says " But why is it so costly? It's another diversion for youngsters. Their parents have to pay the price for these products!"
(A portable storage device is one that stores data in a small device that can fit into your palm. It can be connected to the computer through the USB port to transfer data. Music is an option that is becoming popular. As opposed to a floppy or a CD, it gives large space (upto 20 GB space is available in most devices). By Archana Venkatratnam
[Source: The ]