Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo once again rattled his saber at Apple, this time speaking to the BBC. Sim reiterated Creative’s threat to “pursue aggressively” its U.S. patent for digital music player navigation systems.
U.S. patent 6,928,433, which Creative calls the Zen Patent for short, describes a method for organizing content on a digital music player that, at least superficially, seems similar to the system used by Apple for its iPod products — music files are tagged with metadata, which is used to generate content in hierarchically organized menus. Creative beat Apple to market with a menu-driven digital music player in September 2000, more than a year before Apple introduced the iPod.
At the time the Zen Patent was announced, Creative Labs President Craig McHugh said that his company was “ evaluating all alternatives ” including licensing and litigation.
Despite Creative’s early offerings in the marketplace, Apple has since become the dominant player, and now provides products in every segment of the market, from the inexpensive and small iPod shuffle to the 60GB video-capable iPod. By some estimates, Apple has 80 percent of the market share for hard drive-based digital music players, giving Creative a distant second place.
More than a year ago, Sim infamously “ declared war ” on Apple, and said that he intended “to out-market everyone” with new digital music products. Creative’s hope at the time was to displace Apple as the industry’s top digital music device maker — a plan which did not come to fruition, as Apple has held the dominant spot throughout the year, and shows no sign of slowing down.
Sim was in the U.K. to introduce Creative’s new Zen Vision: M, a small and sleek video-capable music player that’s perceived as a direct competitor to the newest iPod, which Apple introduced in October. The $329 Zen Vision: M can hold 30GB of data and features a bright color screen and slim design. Creative claims it can display 4 times the color and has twice the battery life of the $299 30GB iPod.
Shares of Creative were down 2.21 percent to 7.95 in morning trading.