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Apple's iPod out of the pink

The new super-slim iPod nano is sure to be one of the hottest-selling gadgets this Christmas, but has Apple missed a trick by trying too hard to be cool?

The hip computer company took the massive risk of ditching its most successful-ever iPod range when introducing the nano. Brave. The iPod mini was a roaring success, and this was in part due to its availability in five cute colours: silver, blue, green, gold and pink. But the nano has also been a top seller, so it looked like Apple had moved at just the right time.

The addition of bachelor-pad black to the iPod colour range has been a triumph, with the traditional, iconic white MP3 player selling in much smaller numbers than the shiny dark models - at least at nano size.

Mono mania


But I suspect that a pink nano would have beaten to a reddy pulp the combined sales of both black and white. Though pink was the second biggest-selling coloured iPod mini on Amazon (after safe silver), Apple reverted to its passion for trendy-bar monochrome – and may regret the fact come the new year.

The Sunday Times reports that this Christmas women are being deluged with pink gadgets. And they love 'em.

"The market is flooded with pink mobile phones, pink digital cameras, pink televisions, pink MP3 players and pink games consoles. And it’s working: the limited edition Motorola V3 RAZR phone in hot pink, for instance, is selling itself," the newspaper states.

A buyer for Woolworths told last Thursday’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme that when it comes to pink gadgets it’s hard for the store to keep up with demand: whatever item it is, if it’s pink it flies off the shelves.

Although some female customers find it patronising, it's clear that a very large number love pink gadgets, as much as they love pink gloves, scarves and socks.

Peter Frost, of the website rethinkpink.com, which looks at marketing to women, said last week: “This is completely the wrong choice of colour. It is lazy marketing. Women can see this sort of tactic a mile off.”

Pink passion


But Sunday Times columnist India Knight defends all things pink. She has one of the aforementioned pink phones herself and "was delighted to come across it: it made a welcome change from the naff, blokey hideousness of most other mobiles," she wrote.

"If we feel patronised by this flurry of pink gadgets and accessories, are we admitting that being manly is preferable to being female, or at the very least that a masculine aesthetic is superior to a feminine one? I'm sure there are exceptions but it is broadly true to say that women like prettiness, and value it, in a way that men do not. A man would be perfectly happy to live in a grey room, with grey things about him; a woman might find it exceedingly depressing and cheerless.

"Why, then, should a woman ape the ugly, aesthetically displeasing accoutrements of men and, most ridiculously of all, ape them in the name of equality? There isn’t anything actually wrong with liking beautiful things in beautiful colours, which is why we don't all trudge around in ugly beige nylon man-suits."

Colour calamity


Apple may well reintroduce pink as an iPod colour in 2006, but it will have missed a glorious opportunity to sell a couple of million more nanos this Christmas - or as presents at gay weddings. The pink RAZR will instead wear the girly gift crown, and pink digital music players from the likes of Creative (tons of pink Zens) and Sony (try the Cotton Candy Pink Walkman Bean) will grab a chunk of market share.

Apple virtually invented the colourful tech gadget with its Strawberry, Lime, Blueberry, Tangerine, Ruby and Indigo iMacs from 1998 onwards. Yes, some PC people used it as further ammo to deride Macs as "girly PCs", but at one stage the iMac was the top-selling personal computer whatever operating system, and that hadn't happened with a Mac ever. All iMacs now come in just white – although we expect a black one in 2006 – and there's not a hint of rainbow in the iPod range any more.

Remember, Apple, sometimes cool can be colourful too.

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