August 16, 2005

Walkman Vs iPod: The Times Online Verdict

Times UK: [by James Pearce] Sony EricssonThe Times Online spent the weekend with the new Sony Ericcson W800i Walkman Phone and put up some of its good and bad...all things considered it's what you'd expect from a music phone.
That is, the playlist is a lot less than the high-end iPod (125 songs vs 15,000) and the phone isn't as easy to use, but it does have an "excellent FM radio", 2.0 megapixel digital still and video camera and the ability to make phone calls.
Still the most important feature got a cautious thumbs-up -- "The smaller Sony machine is not quite as sleek as the original iPod, but its cream and orange livery holds its own in the aesthetics stakes and Times Online found its preview model drawing nods of approval." Most of the posts I've seen from iPod enthusiasts about competing products focus on the look of the gadget rather than anything it actually does...
The Times Online is not a technology website, so I forgive it for forgetting the most important thing about the Walkman Phone -- that it is a PHONE. Everyone seems to be judging mobiles as if they were MP3 players or digital cameras or games consoles. Mobile phones are phones first and everything else second -- manufacturers that forget this find their devices failing in the market.
Since I no longer review mobiles you'll have to rely on, which goes through all the features of the phone and has a lot of images. They also point out that it's incredibly close to the Sony Ericsson K750, so if you're particularly interested give that review a read also. The final verdict: "The W800 is simply a fantastic phone. It has a great camera and user interface, managed over 10.5 hours of talk time in our test, and has the best music app I have seen in a phone yet - all in a very flashy and good looking package."
Related stories:
--iPod Vs Mobile Rhetoric Heating Up
--The Walkman Phones' 100 Soundtrack
--Sony Ericsson's Walkman Phone Gamble

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August 14, 2005

Creative Suffers Due to iPod Suffer

IHT: Creative Technology, whose MP3 products compete with Apple, reported its first quarterly loss in almost three years, writing down its inventory as demand weakened. Creative is spending more on advertising, including hiring the celebrity Paris Hilton to sell Zen Micro and Zen Vision music players, as it tries to return to profit this year.

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Koreans not impressed by Apple's iPod

InfoWorld: It may be the hottest, most sought-after digital music player in other parts of the world, but in South Korea iPod registers as barely a blip in the sales charts, according to a recent report by market analysts GfK AG.
With iPods accounting for just 1.6 percent of units sold in South Korea, Apple ranked as the number 13 digital music player manufacturer in the country...local companies like Reigncom Ltd., Digitalway Co. Ltd. and Cowon Systems Inc. were early leaders in the technology and are still strong today, especially in their home market.

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August 11, 2005

Microsoft Pushes For New Players To Rival iPod

Bloomberg: Microsoft is pushing for new music players for the end-of-year shopping season. It is working with electronics makers such as Philips, Samsung and Creative to design and test music players that rival iPod, said Erik Huggers, the head of Microsoft's Digital Media Division.
Microsoft said in June that its Xbox game console chief, Robbie Bach, has also been tasked with overseeing Microsoft's digital music efforts in a bid to better coordinate the work of several different Microsoft units in this area. The software giant has opened laboratories to make sure that new devices are easy to use and fast enough to attract new consumers, Huggers said.

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July 29, 2005

HP To Stop Selling Apple iPods

WSJ: So much for the high-profile deal announced at CES last year... H-P to stop reselling Apple's popular iPod portable music player, as it doesn't fit with its company's current digital media strategy.
CNET: We do remain committed to our digital-entertainment strategy," said HP spokesman. "We decided that reselling the iPod does not fit within that strategy."
As WSJ story says, the deal between the two companies was originally viewed as a major step for both companies, but the breakdown of the partnership isn't likely to be a big loss for either side. HP on average accounted for only about 5% of iPod sales, which totaled about 6.2 million of the devices, worth more than $1.1 billion in revenue, for Apple last quarter. H-P plans to continue distributing copies of Apple's iTunes music software on H-P computers.
On interesting part though: as part of the original contract, H-P cannot sell a competitive digital music player from another company or begin development of its own player until August of next year.
-- H-P, Apple Unveil Music Alliance
-- HP To Finally Release Own-Branded iPods; Integrates iTunes In Media Box

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July 27, 2005

RioAudio's Assets Sold To SigmaTel

EETimes: SigmaTel, the digital chip maker (it supplies to iPod shuffle, among others) has bought out the software, patents and engineering resources associated with D&M Holdings' Rio portable audio product line. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Rio acquisition does not include any rights to ownership of the portable audio player products, inventory or trademarks associated with the Rio brand, SigmaTel said. It does, however, include as many as 15 patents and patent applications, some of which are among the earliest MP3 player patents ever granted and many of which have been granted or are pending in Europe and Asia.
D&M Holdings owns the Denon, Marantz, McIntosh Laboratory and the D&M Professional, ReplayTV, Rio and Escient brands.
Some more details in the release.

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July 08, 2005

France Telecom Launches Music Services

Advanced Television: Some interesting services being launched by ISP/telco France Telecom in France, linked to its ADSL service and "Livebox" ADSL modem. The new services include "Livemusic", which comprises a small receiver linked to the Livebox by a wi-fi link, which plays music stored on the user's PC or streamed via the Internet on your hi-fi system.
Another service is photo transfer. The aim is to make the Livebox into the multimedia hub of the home. Finally, Livecom is a full communications software, including VOIP, videophone, 3G, SMS, MMS etc.
Also read: "France Telecom outlines future strategy"

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iRiver Launches Compact Flash Video Player

theregister: iRiver announced yesterday that it will begin shipping its Flash-based personal video player - the U10 - in the UK next month. In addition to MP3, WMA  and Ogg audio support, the unit also displays text, JPEG photos and plays MPEG 4 video files as well as  Flash animations. There's even a built-in microphone for voice recording and an FM radio which can be used in conjunction with the U10's clock to operate as an alarm. The iPod-white U10 comes in 2 sizes with either 512MB or 1GB of Flash memory for audio and video files...

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July 06, 2005

Portable Music Players Poised to Skyrocket

Yahoo: According to recent In-Stat research, the market for hard-drive devices and  flash-based devices will reach more than 104 million units worldwide by 2009 - compared with the 27 million on record for 2004...The report also notes that MP3 player sales achieved a 200 percent increase over 2003 - which was no doubt fueled by the success of iTunes and other legal download stores...most analysts predict there will not be any significant challenge to Apple's iPod for at least the next two years...

Jupiter Research also expects shipments of flash-based devices to exceed that of hard-drive models starting in 2007..."This proliferation of digital music players available at a range of different prices is expected to spur sales of online a la carte downloads and music subscription services. According to a Forrester Research report, the car stereo remains the single most frequent place people listen to music, at 56%, followed by personal and home stereos at 27%. MP3 players come in last, at 1%. So digital music receivers like the Roku Soundbridge or the Sonos system that stream digital music from the PC are considered equally important over time."

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June 22, 2005

Portable Music Player Market Is Booming

In-Stat reports that the exploding market for both hard disk drive and Flash-based portable audio players is expected to reach over 104 million units by 2009 - up from 27.8 million units in 2004 - representing a CAGR of 30.2%.

Key drivers are: falling prices, the availability of legitimate subscription and pay-per-download online music sites, smaller hard disk drives, and increasing Flash memory capacities.

The 64 page report, Portable Digital Audio Players: Moving to the Beat of a Booming Market, includes results of a consumer survey about MP3 player ownership, profiles of leading portable audio player manufacturers and suppliers, as well as forecasts for portable audio player shipments and revenue...

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