Blame the coffee, blame the TheraFlu, blame the bossa-nova, today’s jumble of thoughts is just that—bits and pieces of iPod competitor-related effluvia bouncing around a brain that just can’t sit still.
Don’t make me tell you again…
Back at the tipping point of May and June 2005
I put the world on notice. Any media outlet that included the phrase “iPod Killer” in its headlines without offering demonstrable proof—in the form of crime scene photos and traces of DNA—that such a device had actually dealt death to an iPod was to be hauled out before the Web’s virtual flagpole and pantsed.
And, for awhile, it stopped.
(Taking no credit here, just sayin’…)
Then, gawdammittohell, someone gets wind of a maybe/maybe-not Microsoft media player and the whole thing starts up again.
Microsoft’s “iPod killer” a handheld Xbox?
More details on Microsoft’s iPod killer – Argo?
Microsoft Reveals The Name Of The iPod Killer
Microsoft iPod Killer – Zune
Allard’s iPod-Killer also a PSP/DS-Killer?
Microsoft’s iPod Killer Gets Expanded Duties
Report: Microsoft’s ‘iPod Killer’ Will Play Games
and on and on and on.
For the love of Pete (or, at least, the love of accuracy), could y’all pull up your pants and banish this idiotic phrase from your style guides? The thing has been invoked countless times and since its christening, exactly how many of these supposed “killers” have made a dent in the iPod’s market share?
Should the Microsoft device exist, ship, compete with the iPod, and actually destroy the iPod’s dominance as the world’s most popular portable media player we’ll revisit the subject. Until then, give it a rest.
Speaking of that device, which some have suggested bears the codename “Argo,” a couple of leaked alleged details are worthy of comment.
The first is that Microsoft may have suggested that those who purchase the device will be allowed to freely download Argo (or whatever)-compatible copies of tracks they’ve purchased from the iTunes Music Store. The idea being that one of Apple’s advantages is that it ties you to the iPod by populating your music collection with tracks that can’t be played on other music players. Giving users those same tracks in a protected WMA form (which, in turn, can’t be played on an iPod) erases that advantage.
Nice enough idea, but it’s hardly a deal clincher.
For starters, no less than Microsoft CEO
Steve Ballmer tells us
that “The most common format of music on an iPod is ‘stolen’.” This is a sentiment that you can take issue with, but, at the heart of it, there’s this: Survey after survey reports that the majority of music on people’s iPods comes not from the iTunes Music Store but other sources—both legal and not so.
The typical user, with a few dozen iTunes purchased tracks, is unlikely to be enticed solely by such a “free replacement” offer. (And that typical user might skip the whole thing, realizing that it’s no big deal to burn those purchased tracks to CD—thus removing the copy protection—and then reimport them to another device.)
Plus, you already have these tracks on a device you’re happy with. Where’s the incentive to move from that device to something new?
Allegedly one of these incentives will be wireless connectivity—the ability to transfer data without being tethered to a computer. This I find far more enticing, provided it’s done the right way.
For me, the right way is being able to grab music from the ether. If I’m out and about, I’d like to be able to log into a subscription service, listen to some music, purchase something I like, and have it whisked to my portable player in short order. If you want to throw a little social networking in there as well—where I can quickly beam tracks I like from my player to a pal’s player (and yeah, we’re talking a subscription model where this capability is live for only those on The Plan)—cool.
The wrong way is the telco model—slow transfer speeds, low bit-rate recordings to mask the slowness of the connection, and a fee plan that charges by the amount of data you transfer.
Finally, SanDisk has abandoned its
silly iDon’t ad campaign
—one that compared iPod owners to sheep in an attempt to shame them into buying SanDisk’s Sansa e200 flash-based player. Go to the
and you’ll still see the sheep and the resist conformity sentiments, but there’s now a new element—an “edgy” (read: roughly drawn) “Lil’ Monsta” character that devours the sheep. Click the Alternative link and you’re taken to the new
Lil’ Monsta Sansa e200 site
that does the right thing—talks up the Sansa’s advantages rather than putting down the iPod’s perceived disadvantages (and the lameness of its owners).
Say what you will about the original campaign, it garnered attention. Although it didn’t attract me to the Sansa player, it certainly put it on my radar. Now that SanDisk is more clearly stating what the Sansa can do, I’m inclined to put it through its paces to see how it compares to the iPod. Creative, with all its bluster and lawyers, has yet to spark the same kind of curiosity.
Maybe there’s a lesson here.