19 January 2006

More "iPod Killer" News

A couple of recent articles got my attention on this phenomenon. I suggested a while back that journalists should put money into a fund everytime they use this phrase, and it should go to charity until and if someone is actually right. The headline is being used merely to attract attention (and I have fallen victim again). But, on with the story...

Article number one comes from Wil Harris at Bit-tech, who does not use the above headline at all, and generally sees things the same way as I do about the Creative Zen Vision M Player which I attacked last year. Here in the UK, the price is £249 - a full £30 more than the same capacity iPod, and almost £50 more than an early UK review saying how great it was (turned out the price specified then was a complete guess and hadn't allowed for VAT). And note, the Creative player still does not seem to be available in the UK, though you can order it from a couple of sites. That's a full 3 months after the iPod. Anyway, Wil's article is spot on with the same criticisms I had (but less words!). His particular beef is why it was given an accolade at CES when it is so obviously a me-too inferior product. I couldn't agree more Wil, well said, and a good read in general on the state of the competition.

And today (which sort of reminded me of Wil's article from last week) comes The Register (a publication which has certainly used the phrase iPod killer more than just about anyone else) with a review of iRiver's new U10 player (article linked to is conclusion page). Fortunately, the journalist here, DOES basically get it. A 1GB player that's bigger and the same price as the 2GB iPod Nano. And, as usual it's not as easy to use as the Apple experience.

One minor quibble with the review above is that it states
Only the Apple-flavoured AAC is conspicuous by its absence, though that's hardly surprising

Well, of course, AAC is NOT an Apple format. It stands for Advanced Audio Codec and is part of the MPEG-4 standard produced by the mpeg industry forum representing 80 companies. Only music purchased from the Apple store is in a proprietary (ie DRM'ed) AAC format. This got me thinking. Why are these players NOT supporting the open AAC format? I have used AAC to rip most of my CD's in preference to MP3 format. I'm sure that's the same for many other iTunes users. While Apple is occasionally reprimanded for NOT including support for the totally proprietary (but theoretically licenseable) WMA format, why are journalists so forgiving for players not including AAC support? And perhaps more importantly, why do the manufacturers trying to play catch-up avoid offering a feature that would be a clear benefit to many PC users (if not Mac users) who were somehow not happy with the iPod but had a lot of music ripped in AAC format?

Having ripped something like 250 CD's to AAC format, I'm not about to do it again. I can't be the only one, and if you don't target the iPod-owning demographic, you've aleady reduced your potential market significantly. It is another demonstration to me that the other manufacturers still haven't "got it".

1 comment:

Levi_G said...

take the u10 and its touch screen, add a dash of apple finese and 30-60gig hard drive and you have a very nice ipod video.