By: Karla Escolas

“Are you a deal or designer buyer?”

Do you know what the price difference is when purchasing a designer bag vs. a replica? It can range anywhere from $20.00-$2,000. The difference between the bags is usually just the brand name, or is it better quality? To me it’s all the same material. Which is why I personally prefer the look over the label, and I guess that would make me a “deal” buyer, not a “designer.” But there are people, I know because I do know many, that would purchase a designer handbag simply because it’s made by Coach. Does the same hold true for gadgets?

Let’s take for instance the the famous debate over the Zune 80 and the Apple iPod. Function-wise, the Zune 80 (80GB) has a screen that’s almost double the size of the iPod 80 LCD, it is highly scratch resistant, has brighter image settings, is commonly said to have a very sleek design and is priced at $249. Now how can I place the Zune 80 into the “deals” category even though the iPod also costs $249? It’s because people tend to take another approach when purchasing gadgets. Instead of the cost being the reason for a buyers decision, it’s about product/brand awareness. Unlike designer handbags, quality, (or features in this case) just aren’t enough. When the average person thinks of an MP3 player the first thing that comes to mind is iPod. Why do I say this? I decided to put this to the test and ask a friend of mine, who is not exactly up to date with the latest in gadgets, what they thought of using an MP3 player, the first thing she said was, “are you talking about one of those iPods?” She automatically categorized “MP3 player” as an iPod and I know that if she ever went and purchased one she wouldn’t even know what a Zune was.

But why would someone who’s aware of the different MP3 players go for the iPod over the Zune that has more features? Jason Chen from Gizmodo.com says “You really like the music/picture sharing: Zune. It’s a feature not found on the iPod, but will have limited use unless your friends all buy Zunes.” It’s the same thing as being a member of a social network that none of your friends are on, pointless. So according to iSuppli, the Zune 80 is all of a sudden hard to find. “The question is whether the Zune 80 shortage is the result of high demand, short supply or some combination of both,” says Chris Crotty, the senior analyst for consumer electronics at iSuppli Corp. Sure both are very likely, it happens. Or is it a way to shed some light on the struggling MP3 player? Bringing some unexpected attention to the Zune 80 would be a great way to bring about some brand awareness. You be the judge.