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11 April 2005
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KLB - iPod Mini

Yesterday Julie and I went to Yongsan, the electronics shopping district, and she picked herself up a shiny new 4 GB iPod mini. She'd been planning to get one ever since Apple slashed the prices down to $200.

Now, I recently read in Time magazine that Apple controls 60% of the market share for mp3 players. You wouldn't know it if you live in Korea, that's for sure. I've personally never seen a single Korean using one. Still, I expected them to be readily available at Space 9, the new, huge electronics building connected to Yongsan station. Wrong. Though there were zillions of mp3 players for sale, hardly anyone carried iPods, especially the iPod minis - or so it seemed.

Julie started asking salesmen at random if they had them. It was weird. Some of the clerks said no outright and seemed almost offended we even asked. One guy, an arrogant asshole, reluctantly pulled one out of hiding, but immediately and vehemently pitched the iRiver as a better product. The guy wouldn't shut up. He almost had her convinced, but I kept telling her he was acting suspicious and to stick with the iPod which she came for. When she told him she had to think more about it, he actually scolded her for wasting his time. "If you leave right now after all the effort I made, that will be so rude." We shrugged and walked off. Later, out of desperation, Julie almost went back to him to buy the iPod. I wouldn't let her, though, after the asinine way he left things.

Such a friendly place that Yongsan market is. As we walked by a couple of other rude, aggressive salesmen, one of the jerks told Julie in demeaning Korean, "There are so many Korean guys - why you with a foreigner?" and started laughing. When Julie told me what he said, I was so pissed off I turned to him and stuck my middle finger in his face. He dropped his head and looked away, fortunately. I realized this probably wasn't a smart move on my part - what, with all my recent posting about not fighting. Damn, that made me angry though. What a way to make a sale, you idiot.

Finally we found a nice guy, more friendly and helpful than in-your-face, "Buy! Buy! Buy!" He calmly explained the reason behind the iPod anomaly. With all the price cutting Apple has done recently, there's little profit incentive for the salespeople. He told us straight out his profit on the mini would be just $10. That's why everyone is pushing other brands and not displaying Apple, though they still carry them because foreigners always insist on iPods. I have no proof to his claim, but it seems a reasonable explanation. He was such a nice guy and so polite to us both that we ended up buying the case and battery charger too. To our surprise he charged us $10 less for these accessories than the iRiver-pusher had quoted. I'll probably pick an iPod there up myself soon. I figured I may as well wait and test out Julie's first. So far we both really like it, though it's a little awkward having to use it through iTunes.

Well, time to go to the health club. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to working out.


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