It’s Twitter Wednesday! What’s hot: Apple’s iPod Shuffle

March 11, 2009

Image from Twitter Web site

As one of the more than six million Twitter users, I use the site to keep up with friends, to learn about sales and new products from companies I am interested in, to follow the latest hot trends, and, believe it or not, to get the latest breaking news.

Twitter has the ability to instantaneously provide a massive amount of information, all in 140 characters or less. I first learned about Twitter from a co-worker in IT who was one of the earliest users. There had just been an earthquake in California and he came out of his office to see if it was on any of the cable news channels. It was not. In fact, it was more than 20 minutes from the first tweet he got before CNN had picked it up. Similarly, with the miracle on the Hudson, the first images from the scene were sent out via Twitter.

Companies can use Twitter as a cost-effective marketing tool not just for their own product promotions, but they can also follow those that follow them to see what they are talking about and interested in. Although the time commitment for employees to monitor followers would be significant, it is essentially free research material.

Photo from Apple Web site

This morning I logged on to Twitter and checked the top-10 trend list where I saw that Apple has just announced that it is selling and shipping a new iPod Shuffle. From Twitter, there were plenty of links to take me to various parts of Apple’s Web site, product reviews, videos and more.

Additionally, the word “Apple’s” was also a trending topic on the top-10 list, indicating that Apple is indeed a hot topic this morning. However, as anyone who checks out these feeds on Twitter will tell you, just because you are a hot trend, doesn’t mean the talk is always positive.

Photo from Apple Web site

For example, the new iPod Shuffle is a tiny clip, smaller than a house key. The controls for the gadget are attached to the infamous Apple ear buds. Thus, if you don’t like Apple’s ear buds, you can’t use the shuffle. And believe me, there are lots of people who will never even consider making the purchase solely because of that fact, and they are speaking up about it on Twitter. I can speak from personal experience that Apple’s ear buds do not work for me. Almost instantaneously they make my ears absolutely ache.

I am curious as to why Apple would design a product that can only be controlled with their proprietary ear buds. I am sure Apple is aware of how many people dislike their ear buds and instead purchase other options, always available in the Mac Store, when they purchase something from the iPod line. Surely, people would do the same with the new iPod Shuffle, thus bringing in slightly more revenue for Apple, even if it is from a non-Apple brand.

Of course, seeing all the tweets on Twitter complaining about the ear buds makes me think that Apple should have done more research to gauge the public’s opinion of their proprietary headphones, and clearly Twitter would have been a good forum for that. It definitely isn’t time consuming to answer a tweet, and with more than six million users all around the world, a company could better ensure that products in development be designed to best fit the needs of the customer. And really, in doing so, a company will provide a better, and more desirable product to the consumer.

Does anyone else remember a hilarious Saturday Night Live skit a few years ago about the shrinking iPods, which eventually were too minuscule to be seen with the naked eye?  I only wish I could find it on YouTube, because this latest product is so unbelievably small that it’s hard to imagine how it could possibly get any smaller on the next go around.


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