iPod Killers or iPod Wannabes?

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It seems that every few weeks or so a hardware manufacturer plans to release an “iPod killer”. The exact nature of this varmint may vary, but all of them have one common characteristic: they won’t sell for beans, and they use the word “iPod” to attract attention.

The latest such product is Microsoft’s player, dubbed… well, not dubbed anything yet, since a name would mean that journalists would not be able to use “iPod Killer” in their headlines. Yet this is most likely just another in the endless stream of iPod killers that have come on the market in the past few years, only to fade away to the junk heap of digital devices.Google “iPod killer” and you’ll get about 4,300,000 hits! Including such headlines as:

  • Sony unveils colour ‘iPod killer’ (May, 2005)
  • Nokia Unveils iPod Killer (April, 2005)
  • Dell DJ: An iPod Killer? (December, 2003)
  • Can IRiver Become an IPod Killer? (March, 2005)

And so on…

But the big difference is that with Microsoft, replete with cash to burn and a marketing strategy that reportedly includes a Super Bowl commercial, is really planning to make this device an iPod killer. Honest.

There’s a reason why Apple has 77% market share in the digital music player market. This article points out how Apple has not taken the market by crook, but rather by hook: by providing what users want with a flawless business model and a seamless interface between the iPod and the iTunes Music Store.

Let the Redmond boys keep dreaming and planning to kill off the iPod. They’ve got a long way to go, and a lot of hurdles to attract customers to their new device. The press may fall for the iPod killer moniker each time, but consumers don’t.

6 replies
  1. jog4joy says:

    I read Kirk McElhearn’s fine article in “PC Magazine” dated 6/6/05. I have a PC and have been following the steps outlined in his article entitled, "Ripping Audiobooks."

    I have spent several days this week dealing with a problem on my iPod Nano that is caused by a change in iPod software. Now with the latest iPod updater (6/28/2006) I find that the trick outllined in the above article of changing a file’s extension from m4a to m4b causes the iPod to hang up when trying to play a *.m4b file. Whether this was deliberate by Apple or whether this was a careless coding change, I do not know. Does anyone know why the software was changed?

    To achieve bookmarking now all you have to do is go to a file that has been AAC encoded (resulting in an m4a extension), right click the file in iTunes, and select Get Info. Then select the Options tab. Then select the box next to “Remember playback position.” This does the job. The extension does not change. I do not know if this “Remember…” is a new feature in iTunes or just something that was not known by us.

    I think that the above article should be updated to reflect the present situation!

    • Kirk says:

      This comment does not address the above article, but there are a few points
      to make.

      First, this is the first I’ve heard of the file extension causing an iPod to freeze.
      Check that the extension is indeed correct, or re-copy the file to the iPod.

      Second, and this is more important, is the question of whether articles on the
      web should be updated to reflect new features. (The feature you mention was
      added, I think, in version 5 of iTunes, when Podcasting was added.) In
      general, this is not done – this updating of articles – for several reasons: the
      sheer time required to constantly check and update thousands of articles (in
      the case of this specific site), but also the fact that not everyone updates their
      software. I write regularly for Macworld magazine, and often get trapped by
      my editors when I forget to mention that a certain function is only available in
      version X of a specific program. While we write for users who are running
      Tiger, we still have to mention whether something works with Panther or
      Jaguar (those are different versions of Mac OS X). But once the article is in the
      wild, there’s nothing we authors can do about it. If anything, it’s up to the
      readers to post comments to the actual articles when they see that a feature
      has changed, causing the article to not reflect the current state of the
      software. Nevertheless, the article will help people using a previous version of
      the software do what they want.

      • jog4joy says:

        The same files with the extension m4b have worked with IPod updater 3/23/2006 and earlier. When the software is updated using the 6/28/2006 software the extension causes the iPod to freeze! It is a either a new restriction in the iPod software or an error in that software.

        *.m4b files no longer work with the latest version of the software.

        The link http://aldoblog.com/audiobooks/itunes/importing-audio-cds/ contains the correct way to rip audio cd’s and to bookmark them!


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