Why you shouldn’t buy an iPod (right now, or later)

Engadget posted this article, speculating that the new iPod is just around the corner and you’ll just be plunking down money to buy some buyer’s remorse.

Yes, I am interested in seeing what the Cupertino boys have up in store for us. I thoroughly enjoyed playing around with the new toys available at the local Apple store. Every time Apple releases a new product, I get all giddy inside– those are really nice toys. But why haven’t I bought any Apple products since a 1st Gen iPod?

Let’s do some math here. Assuming that you’ve kept your whichever generaton iPod for 3 years before you get the itch to upgrade, and assuming you paid $300 for it– you’ve just spent $100/year in basically renting the device from Apple to enjoy the device to play music for you. Regardless of where you acquire your mp3’s, that the minimum amount you’ve paid to enjoy your music on the go. Let’s say you spend 5 hours a month stealing music off the web– over the 3 years you’ve owned your iPod, it means you would have spent 5 X 12 months = 60 hours a year, or 180 hours over the 3 years to fill up your iPod.

With the competition in the PMP market and rapid commoditization of such services and technologies, it is pretty evident that not only do these devices receive refreshes on a yearly basis, but other competitors continuously release better, cheaper products. Yesterday I pointed out this “deal” offered by SanDisk and Yahoo! Music. Let’s compare the alternatives to see how Apple’s value proposition compares to this SanDisk/Yahoo combo:

* 1 iPod Nano: $199, + 180 hours of scouring for music over 3 years (time assumed you’ll keep this Nano)

* 1 Sandisk Sansa Connect: $140, 2 years of unlimited music from Yahoo Music To Go: $144. Total cost: $284

Cost per year for you to enjoy unlimited music on the go:

Apple: 60 hours of your time + $199 iPod amortized over 3 years = $66/year + 60 hours

Sandisk + Yahoo: $284/3 = ~$95

So the 60 hours you spent stealing music equates to roughly the value of $95 – $66 = $29, or $0.48 per hour.

Not sure about you guys, but my time is definitely worth more than that.

This is why my next music purchase will be the Sandisk+Yahoo combo. Assuming that I will toss the Sansa Connect after 2 years, $142/year (or $0.39/day) spent on having unlimited music still sounds (no pun intended) like a pretty good deal to me.

I love the iPod. It’s a great device. But until Apple can bring up its value proposition for its products, I am taking my money elsewhere.

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