Let's talk about the iPod Mini.
I have about as much use for a portable mp3 player as an asshole on my forehead. Personally, I find the entire market a little ridiculous. The iPod, while functional in theory, is in practice little more than a fashion accessory and status symbol – proving that not only do you (read: your parents) have $299, but that you have another $299 to spend in 12 months when its non-replaceable battery dies. It's not that I think mp3 players don't work or serve a purpose. I just think they're really good at doing a bunch of things I don't care about, and people buy iPods even if they don't even listen to much music simply because everyone else is.
But please, spare me the arguments about the merits of the iPod. I am willing to accept that, just as I spend a lot of money on things that other people would find stupid, others see usefulness in things I consider useless. So be it. To each their own. Additional platitudes here. If you feel that your iPod provides you with utility equal to its cost, then I would be wrong to dispute that.
The Mini (right) is smaller but retains enough capacity for sorority girls to store all three of their CDs
I have to draw some sort of line with this iPod Mini, though. I really do. It is doing more to please people I dislike than any product in recent memory. Because, really, you have to imagine Steve Jobs, the Apple Marketing Squad, and Lil' Jon (or any other dregs of the music industry) sitting around high-fiving through the cigar smoke every time they sell one of these. "Can you fuckin' believe this, guys? It has one-fifth as much capacity as the regular iPod, but it almost costs the same! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!" Short of robbing you at gunpoint, there's not really much more they could do to so effortlessly take your money. Come on. Three-card Monte dealers have to work harder than this to get people's cash.
Yes, a regular iPod (20gb, 5.6 ounces) is $299, and the Mini (4GB, 3.6 ounces) is $249. Not to mention that Dell's products (rated by PC World as the second-best competitor to the Apples) are $199 and $249 for 5gb and 20gb, respectively.
Basically, Apple's marketing lizards are fucking with you. They just want to see what they can get away with at this point, and you're convincing them that the sky's the limit. They took their profit margins on the regular iPod and quadrupled them by selling you a lesser product for almost as much money. Congratulations! With successful encouragement from holiday shoppers, Apple's next product will be a thin sheet of cardboard with "iPod Super Awesome" written on it, yours for only $149. I only wish that the Mini came with a different color of headphones so that the white wires of traditional iPod owners ("I have lots of money and I am quite urbane") could be differentiated from those who have lots of money but don't enjoy, you know, thinking about stuff before spending it.