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If you were an Apple competitor, how would you fight the iPod?

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by Beethovenian, Sep 23, 2005.

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  1. Beethovenian

    Beethovenian
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    In other words, one of those "your ideal DAP" threads. But you have to have in mind what you reasonably think would be successful.

    In my mind, the only way to beat the iPod is to advance the game to a new sphere, so I think new functions have to be added, transforming the player in more than just a music device. Video is the obvious one, though mostly for music videos. Not that I want necessarily that, but I think that's one way to generate buzz and have the "wow" effect. I would also add, for the sake of it, Java-based games, like the cellphone ones. And then, the killer app, in my mind, would be wireless connection and the availability of a special Web music and music video store configured only for access directly on the player. The connection could be two ways: by wi-fi, using hot spots, or by some form of cellphone connection. I would also add a microphone to the player and some way of recording snippets of music that could be then used by special software that, when connected to a central server, would identify the song and offer it for sale. (Cellphones already offer that.) Giving the chance of people buying music wherever and whenever they want, and without needing to use a computer, I believe, produces the "cool" factor that is needed to dethrone the iPod. Also, the wireless connection could be used for somebody to stream music or video to others with the same player, and to swap pictures. If the company was Sony, I would also add connection to the PSP (imagine having a Walkman as a storage device for videos that would be shown on that gorgeous screen of the PSP?) and give a simpler version of Lumines as a preloaded game.
     
  2. L11

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    I think phones with large memories will eventually beat the ipod... The nokia n91 has a 4gb hard drive and is around the same size as an ipod mini.. (although it's the ugliest thing i've ever seen)
     
  3. cheesea

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    i'd start by not replacing the latest model after only 4months! I can't believe the HD-5 has been discontinued
     
  4. shadowritten

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    Here, here!
     
  5. asherpat

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    first, nobody can beat the iThing :suicide: cos people buy it emotionally, rather than logically. Emotionally it is (still) perceived as "cool" and "special" (beats me, how can something that everybody has stuck in their ears can be "special"). From the product point of view, they still have the edge, i am not a fan of Apple but you have to give them their due, iPod is the best product out there (though not by-far the best one, anymore) with the best design.

    I fully agree with L11 that Nokia designed a "Chris Bangle" in the form of N91. It is one of these examples when a company believes that a product shud look "special" (it has special innovative features and must be "differentiated") and the designers produce a real monster for the sake of it. I am not a blind supporter of the iGodly ;) but put the N91 near an iPod, and everybody except some excentric black-leather punkers will prefer to have two boxes in their pockets. This "thing" will not beat the iPrecious.

    Which brings me to the fact that amazingly, very few companies tried sleek design, perhaps Gigabeat, iRiver but Creative Zens v iPod look like naive cabbage patch doll versus Kate Moss (whhhhh...). Why dont they just copy a sleek design?

    Note though that there are rumours tha the Nano is selling "slow". This is supported by the huge media campaigh to promote a product that used to sell itself, the original iPods were considered "chic" and there was little advertising. After all, Nano is a sexy designed Mini with no real new features. However, as above, many see Apple as some kind of local football club and they sub-conciously try to support them by buying multiple iPods, as a collection (see my thread "iPod Fatigue", "Who'll ne the buyers of the new Nano"). Many people seem to have 2, 3, sometimes 5 iPods and proud of it.

    But with such "blind" "football-club" support and the installed base, the thousands of accessories and auto-manufactureres falling over themselves to isntall iPod only docks in their cars, there may not be a way back and Apple may ahve the market for itself lile Microsoft, esp if people will be too lazy to convert their files from iTunes, the transition will be a barrier for entry. funnily, all those "football club" supporters of Apple as an antidote to the all conquering dark-side Microsoft will have a dissonance with the fact that Apple now it the top dog (and these guys can "support" only the underdogs)

    but seriously, how to beat an iPod?

    1. make a sleek design, soap-bar like, maybe made of hardish rubber, flexible- this will make it feel nice on the hand, perhaps even to have some torsional flexibility to allow blokes to have it in their jeans pocket. size? well about the size of the iPod Mini
    2. huge, high-def color lcd screen. size? to cover most of the front panel. make a good touch-screen controls but there must be a scroll wheel. i swear by Sony P900 wheel, why not some like this?
    3. make a good PC/Mac interface, a la iTunes. Copy, why not? Sony in my experience always bungled software, that is why peoplse seem to hate SonicStage.
    4. Finally, in order to beat the iGreat, there is one thing that i am astonished no company picked up. the leads of the earphones (not the earbuds themselves!) MUST be in a differenct colour, say pastel, co-ordinated with the colour of the box. After all, iPod owners "wear" an iPod, not use it. to show the white leads. I bet that poepl will kill to be seen with lilac leads (girls) in the Tube and blokes will show how adventurous they are with "earthing" bright green/yellow leads. this is the only permanently visible part of the player and that is what people buy! beats me why the only colors i see are drab black or iWhite?

    whoa!
     
  6. shadowritten

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    Some interesting stuff in there, Asherpat. But answer me this: is the colour of the leads going to make THAT much difference? If the iConquering really is still seen as 'cool' (or whatever other phrase is currently doing the rounds with the 'kids'), then surely only white leads would help sales? People see them, think iWow!, and assume that the person owns the market-leading player - so maybe they should get one, too.

    This leads thing is a bit of a red herring to me. Lots of third-party makers have produced white leads - Sony among them. Yet go into a Sony Centre, and you may find, as I did, that the staff actively advise AGAINST buying them! Not because folk will think you own an iAmazing rather than an HD5 or whatever, but because of the news reports aeons ago about muggers selecting victims by the colour of their headphone leads (assuming them to be iCool owners - and assuming this story had any basis in fact in the first place). In short, product manufacturers have probably done themselves a disservice by pandering to fans of Apple and making phones with white leads: people, from a distance at least, assume the wearer has an iCredible, whether he or she does or not!

    So coloured leads don't seem to me to be so very important - nice idea though they are. Which is not to suggest I know HOW Apple will be unthroned - though I suspect it'll probably be the author of its own misfortune eventually, as was/is Sony for ignoring the digital music revolution for far too long and sticking doggedly to its doomed MiniDisc baby past its sell-by date. This, combined with Apple's expertise as a computer maker, is what caused Walkman to cease to be the generic name on everyone's lips ...
     
  7. asherpat

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    as i already said somewhere else in these forums:

    dog bites man = no news
    dog bites man wearing an iPos = front page stuff :suicide:

    Seriously shadowrtitten, by having a really differetn color leads, a manufacturer can differentiate itself out of the sea of white.

    despite "my local club" type support of anti-Gateses, people will still like to be associated with something new, different. However, it must be something that helped the iPod spread in the beginning, most people noticed the more and more white earpices but only few were "in the know"...

    therefore it cant be only on itself, of course the product shud be "cool" too, but that can be done. so imagine Sony's Beans, a funky product, wud have color matching leads to the psychodelic oclors of the box itself, i bet kids will go crazy and iDread will be vanquished, Amen!
     
  8. gerbilly

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    To beat the i-pod


    You DAP would have to be cross platform both MAC and PC. To be able to use any recordings you have on your computer whether they be MP3, ATRAC, WMA, AAC or loseless. 40gb would be good with a pure clean small black case, with a similar version of the scroll wheel, but not to close incase Apple take you to the courts. A digital output as well as your normal headphone connection would be brilliant with connection for USB1,2 and Firewire for downloading.

    This DAP would be drag and drop and would not particularly need any software.

    To please Johann it would also have to be GAPLESS with battery life of plus 20 hours.

    Colour screen with record sleeve art also would be excellent.

    It would retail at £200 quid and I would buy it in a shot.
     
  9. mick's cat

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    You've hit the nail on the head here. Apple's expertise is the precise reason why the iPod is so popular. Once consumer devices started to contain computer processors, the devices effectively became a combination of hardware *and* software.

    All consumer companies have been totally wrong-footed by this, not having the capability of producing good software to match their hardware - they are fish out of water.

    However, and this is another important point, most computer companies make *only* hardware, while Microsoft makes the software. Only one computer company makes both hardware *and* software - Apple.
     
  10. shadowritten

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    You got an order form for one of these, Gerbilly? :D
     
  11. shadowritten

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    Which is presumably why Microsoft have pushed WMA so hard and got so many online stores on board.

    I'd say never underestimate Gates and Co. It won't be long before they're making DAPs in collaboration with someone, and putting on them the latest, all-singing, all-dancing, all-DOING media software that syncs with every program ever written - but, most importantly, with XP and the new Vista OS that's due out.
     
  12. mick's cat

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    And they've taken all of err... 10% of the market.
    Yes, they're capable of copying anything badly... ;)

    Seriously though, I agree. Once someone works out what makes the iPod so popular, they'll do something that is capable of beating it. It'll be a year or more before that though.
     
  13. shadowritten

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    At least their stuff is open architecture - a blessing as much as a curse at times :) :mad:
     
  14. mick's cat

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    That's not true, actually. Most of their stuff (WMA is the prime example) is proprietary, tying you into their products. They have the computer market because of marketing, not because of innovation or open architecture.
     
  15. shadowritten

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    Sorry, I was referring to the fact that so much third party software works with Windows (I know, 'cos they've cornered the market), whereas my Mac friends tell me this isn't so with Apple's stuff. You have to pay Apple's stupidly high prices for Apple's own stuff (for the most part; and again, so I'm told).

    But we're getting off topic.
     
  16. mick's cat

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    Again, I don't think this is true, but yes, we're off topic.

    Back to beating iPods. I'm sure that a marketing blend of both hardware + software is the only way anyone will do it.
     
  17. shadowritten

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    Plus the ability to future-proof a DAP to a certain, commercially viable extent. New players every 4-6 months could result in undermining consumer confidence in a manufacturer's ability to produce quality, LASTING products - unless, of course, each new product line offers a SUBSTANTIAL improvement on what went before. Both Apple and Sony seem to be guilty of this at the moment.
     
  18. asherpat

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    a mobile phone style of Razr but with wireless earbuds.

    I know i am shooting my argument about the colored leads but there u have it.

    a phone with PDA functions, a camera, Wi-Fi, 3G or god knows what G.

    the 3G connection will allow direct on demand playing, or storage of ur material outside of the phone. this is not so much for size (ventually, there will be 20-40GB flashes), but rather for convenience of the user and non-destructability. (if the market wud not have been so distorted, i wud buy EMC for the long term).
     
  19. shadowritten

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    What about adding a very fast, Bluetooth-style ability that lets you up/download content to a PC/Mac or other HDD/flash-based storage/playback system?
     
  20. Steven

    Steven
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    Pool together with others and buy them :rolleyes:

    Seriously tick following boxes:

    Style
    Features (inc UI)
    Batt life
    Marketing
    Price
     
  21. extremelydodgy

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    Hire an industrial designer who knows what he's doing.
    Hire a product engineering team who knows what they're doing.
    Hire a software development team who knows what they're doing.
    Hire Product Managers who give a ****. When your training guys are superb, but they get no backup from apathetic PM's that's damned tragic.
    Make good use of your marketing dollars. Don't waste money trying to buy people. If you do, then you know your product isn't what people want. Give players away to people who can influence public opinion and listen to what they have to say about it.
     
  22. shadowritten

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    Tough talk. Now let me guess which firm, in your opinion, is ticking all these boxes. Does it begin with an 'A'? :devil:
     
  23. Beethovenian

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    In general, I agree with Aspherpat. I don't think it's possible to beat the iPod anymore. Not as a regular DAP. That's why I think it's necessary to take the game to a new field. Find out how to offer video in a portable device, allow song recognition and immediate wireless downloads. Maybe cellphones are indeed the ones who'll take the throne, but so far I can't see them taking the iconic position of the iPod. It's not a matter of designing something that's necessarily beautiful (I don't think the iPod is beautiful), but that can be considered "cool" (whatever that means). The way to do that, in my view, is to produce the "wow" factor. The PSP has that, but it suffers from some multimedia restriction and the fact that it is, above all, a video game console.

    Honestly, I don't think multicodec support, drag and drop and some other technical aspects are important. People will overlook them if they find the product appealing. (Edit: I don't think they're important for the general public, for the success of the product. Not that I particularly think they're not important.)

    For me, particularly, the ideal player would be the size of a credit card, with the thinness of the iPod nano, 100GB of flash memory, a huge screen to facilitate navigation, and of course gapless.
     
  24. shadowritten

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    You're describing the DAP of my dreams <drools>

    Anyway, why beat the iPod? Without it and the market it virtually created single-handedly, we wouldn't have all the other great DAPs to choose from. Sony certainly wouldn't have been shaken from its complacency without Apple making such a huge success of the iPod. Let the uninitiated masses (plus, of course, the more discerning types who frequent forums like this :) ) enjoy the iPod for what it is. Otherwise, aren't we all just guilty of suffering from a perverse kind of 'iPod envy'?
     
  25. Beethovenian

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    I particularly think it would be nice to have the iPod beaten because then our chances of having gaplessness as standard will probably increase (I don't think Apple will ever address that, at least for current formats). But other than that, I think it's nice to have competition and not one company so dominating. Which means I don't mind having the iPod as a leader, but I do mind having it as a Windows-like kind of leader.
     
  26. Steven

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    I'd like to keep features restricted to audio. They can choose to have FM, line in/out, mic etc, as I'm not concerned with video

    I have a PSP, yes MS are expensive. But I've got several off ebay, and I've got video conversion process sussed. I love the quality. I do admit though, limitations prevent PSP from being true killer video player

    Although, that you can get a USBOTG device helps
     
  27. iBoris

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    I'd just like to pick up on the phones thing, and I can't see it working myself. Yeah, maybe for something Shuffle sized, but not fully 40GB. Because phones change much faster than DAP's I wouldn't want to keep transferring my music collection from one device everytime I change my phone.

    Despite all the talk of convergence, how many things can you add to a phone before they become too unwieldy to use?

    The reason iPods work is because Apple decided to keep it simple, I am sure they could've added video by now, but what does that do to iPod? Does it weaken it's usability? Definitely.

    I don't like monopolies, but no one in the computing world has been able (or inclined) to shift Microsoft from the top spot. Why the need to shift Apple from the digital music top spot?
     
  28. extremelydodgy

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    It certainly ain't one beginning with S :rolleyes:
     
  29. aalaap

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    I think I'd just make the iTunes dependency go away. Music should be simply drag-and-drop-able into the device's HDD, and THE DEVICE ITSELF should have a "Rebuild Database" option that scans each track on the disc and makes a db file with all the stuff sorted by ID3 tags etc. This is probably the only reason I don't own an iPod, or any digital audio player yet for that matter. I can't live with less-than-1GB flash drives that offer this feature (simple drag and drop), its just too les music for me. I need several GBs, and none of the multi-GB players come with this feature. Unless you take some of the almost no-name Chinese PMPs out there like the iStation or iCube or whatever the hell they call it wherever they sell it.

    - Aalaap
     
  30. HMHB

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    The problem I see is that if anyone does manage to "beat the iPod" then they will become the dominant DAP and so it will become fashionable to bring down that company won't it :confused:
     
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