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Apple to Face iPod Clone Attack

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the they-have-cool-armor dept.


chr1sb writes "The Age has a commentary piece outlining how Apple's domination of the online media market is continuing to grow, but speculating that significant competition from the likes of Nokia and Motorola will rapidly relegate Apple's presence in the market to a corner, just as clone manufacturing of IBM PCs dominated the initial success of the Macintosh. From the article: 'The iPod/iTunes system will move into a niche with Macintosh computers because Steve Jobs has again stuck with closed architecture and total control. This will happen quickly because mobile phones are being turned over about every year.'."

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What? (5, Funny)

davidstrauss (544062) | about 8 years ago | (#15044843)

Companies are trying to compete with the iPod. I shall need a replacement monocle.

I have got to stop getting so surprised.

Bender (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044849)

Bender: Maybe you don't understand just how rich he is. In fact, I think I'd better put on a monocle.

So are iPods. (5, Insightful)

Saven Marek (739395) | about 8 years ago | (#15044844)

This will happen quickly because mobile phones are being turned over about every year.

Given the buying habits of people I know with the devices, so are iPods.

Re:So are iPods. (5, Insightful)

L0k11 (617726) | about 8 years ago | (#15044864)

we've heard this all before with the ngage and portable gaming devices

"mobile phones are going to kill off the gameboy" - it never happened.

at the end of the day people buy something for one task because it makes the interface simpler. sure my mobile can play mp3s but i'd much rather have something which is designed to play music as its sole function. just look at another example: camera phones. my phone can take pictures but the interface is clunky and the quality sucks. i dont know anyone who wouldn't prefer using a simple digital camera.

its a jack of all trades but master of none situation.

Re:So are iPods. (3, Insightful)

Greg_D (138979) | about 8 years ago | (#15044957)

So, if that's the case, then why are there so many camera phones out there?

You also miss an obvious point: camera phones can't take pictures as well as stand alone cameras can. iPods are nothing more than digital media storage devices with an interesting interface and an earphone plug.

iPods are winning the war right now because they're a neat fad item with a decent interface and they hold a ton more data than most cell phones. But what happens when affordable flash media starts holding 10-20 gigs? Still want to bet on the iPod's supremacy when Joe Sixpack will be able to walk by a Cingular kisok and pick up a phone that has that kind of storage, no DRM lock-in, and a service plan that makes it cost about a hundred bucks?

Re:So are iPods. (1, Redundant)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | about 8 years ago | (#15044974)

Why there are camera phones? Don't ask me. I'd have bought a phone without camera, but the decent ones all come with one...

I don't think many people use them, though, at least not among my friends.

Service plans (0)

Trejkaz (615352) | about 8 years ago | (#15044977)

Realistically, service plans usually make phones cost about a thousand bucks. That being said, the prices do fall rather fast. And certainly from eBay, you can often find phones at 1/3 of their real price only a year after they were brand new.

Re:So are iPods. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045042)

>> But what happens when affordable flash media starts holding 10-20 gigs?

Well, that's an open door: Apple will sell an iPod with 10-20 gigs.

>> no DRM lock-in

You gotta be kidding. If it isn't Apple's drm, it's Microsoft's. I don't believe Apple is less evil than MS in this respect, but given MS's current dominance elsewhere, I'd rather have Apple for now. Or both, and alternatives like emusic.

But the real problem is not Apple or Microsoft, it's the American law and policy, and the people who choose and want those politicians...

Sigh (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 8 years ago | (#15045049)

When your phone can hold 10-20 gigs your ipod can hold a terrabyte.

Who needs that much space. Yeah right. I have heard that one ever since I bought a HD floppy.

There have always been devices that do it all and there have always been devices that do one thing only.

There are washing machines that can also function as a dryer. Funny thing, do you know you can still buy JUST washing machines + a seperate spin dryer + a seperate warm air dryer?

Yes thats right, spin dryers still exist despite the fact that nearly every washing machine can do it that function nowadays. Just not as well as a true purpose spin dryer.

Oh and the whole camera phone argument is faulty. NOBODY uses a camera phone as a replacement for a regular phone. The camera phone is the replacement of the throwaway/rented camera. Its function is to be always with you for those moments when you do not have a regular camera with you.

In fact that is the function of all the extra's on the mobile phone. Games? Fun for when you got your phone but not a real game system. Calendar? Usefull for when you do not got access to your real calendar. Music? Nice for when you forgot your real music player.

Offcourse some people will be happy with the limited capabilities that their phone offers them. Just as some people are happy with a 10 dollar MP3 player they got from the bargain bin.

That is not Apples market. Apples market is what used to be the Walkman->Minidisc/CD-man market. They effectivly replaced sony for portable audio.

Oh and if you think your phone MP3 players is not going to have DRM your insane.

Re:So are iPods. (2, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | about 8 years ago | (#15045055)

my phone can take pictures but the interface is clunky and the quality sucks. i dont know anyone who wouldn't prefer using a simple digital camera.

Nor do I. And yet, most people (apart from photography enthusiasts) just seem to use their phone instead anyway. It's more convenient. Why carry a camera around when you've got one in your phone? Take a camera if you know you'll be taking photos, sure - to a wedding or whatever. But if you've got one in your phone, suddenly you have a camera with you all the time, and you don't need to make any special effort to bring one.

Who will take the first photos and videos of the next major unexpected newsworthy event? Members of the general public, that's who - and they'll take them on their mobile phones. That's what happened with the bombings in London last July. Welcome to the future.

And there are people who use their phone to take photos who would never have considered buying a digital camera. There's a huge market of people who will refuse to buy a dedicated device just to try out a new service, but who might well use the service if it was supported by a device they're going to buy anyway.

BTW, here are some capital letters for you: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. Sprinking them into your comments in appropriate places will make what you write easier to read. If copying and pasting is too much effort, I believe you can also generate them by holding down the "shift" key while typing a letter.

Re:So are iPods. (1)

moonbender (547943) | about 8 years ago | (#15045062)

I believe you can also generate them by holding down the "shift" key while typing a letter.


Re:So are iPods. (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | about 8 years ago | (#15045066)

You *poor* thing! You have obviously never used an *imported* Korean or Japanese phone. My V902SH (otherwise known as the Sharp 902) has a wonderful interface for playing MP3s, and though it doesn't have an equalizer, I have no need for one. It has a great interface for a camera, too, which makes taking pictures a breeze. It makes a decent replacement for a console with its TV-out function and it has intuitive controls for games (although this part could just be me getting used to this thing because I'm stuck in 220V China with a 110V Gamecube, a broken PSP and Xbox360 at $1000 here...). A Korean friend of mine has a Samsung with a 3.2MP camera WITH 3x OPTICAL ZOOM. The pictures turn out so clearly on paper, and it has a REAL flash, something my V902SH sorely lacks (and it only has 2MP with 2x optical zoom). So really, before you say that a cameraphone is "jack of all trades but master at none" try using an imported phone and see what the Japanese and Koreans are keeping from you! You might not go back to a separate MP3 player, camera, video recorder, game console, and cell phone.

Ogg Vorbis support (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 years ago | (#15044847)

Funny, this post shows up right after I ordered an iAudio U2 [amazon.com] after looking at the Vorbis Hardware wiki. Since Ogg Vorbis is the nerd's audio format, we nerds must have a Vorbis-compatible player, and Apple's offering, while stylish, doesn't have that. Unfortunately, a lot of portable Vorbis compatible players have limited storage size (mine is 1GB), but I'm never away from my laptop long enough to hear more than that much, and so can fill it up with new music when necessary.

Re:Ogg Vorbis support (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044862)

I've gone through three portable ogg players, and found while they work and were compatible with OV to give me that warm fuzzy patent-free feeling, the battery life while playing ogg tracks was abysmal. I ended up using them as MP3 players just to get more listening time (3x the battery life on the latest samsung I had if I only played MP3s.)

In the end my newest player is an iPod, since all I was doing with the others was playing MP3s anyway. It rocks.

Re:Ogg Vorbis support (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044907)

And just FYI it's not that the codec for Vorbis requires more power to decompress (well not significantly), but that custom mp3 chips beat generic chips for power usage. These day even Apple are moving to generic chips in order to play AAC so the players should all suck the same amount of power.

Re:Ogg Vorbis support (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044916)

Unfortunately, a lot of portable Vorbis compatible players have limited storage size (mine is 1GB), but I'm never away from my laptop long enough to hear more than that much, and so can fill it up with new music when necessary.

The thing is I don't have a 20GB iPod because I expect to listen to 20GB worth of music in one go (although that kind of battery life would be great). For me it's about having that much more choice about what I listen to, and not having to make those tough decisions about what tracks I'm going to stick on there from day to day.

Apple doesn't need Ogg Vorbis. (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 8 years ago | (#15044982)

The long and short of it is, unless you can point to a million customers who would buy an iPod if it supported vorbis, and wouldn't otherwise, it's simply a non-issue to Apple. You are a vanishingly small proportion of their potential market.


Re:Apple doesn't need Ogg Vorbis. (1)

tpgp (48001) | about 8 years ago | (#15045029)

Did you even read what the parent said?

He wasn't saying Apple should change, just that it was a dealbreaker for him - and (he contends) many other nerds - as ogg is the premier nerd music format.

Re:Apple doesn't need Ogg Vorbis. (1)

jcr (53032) | about 8 years ago | (#15045032)

ogg is the premier nerd music format.

No, it's not even that.


Re:Ogg Vorbis support (1)

DRM_is_Stupid (954094) | about 8 years ago | (#15045000)

There's only one format that's important for enticing potential buyers: MP3. That's because people don't have most of the original CDs for their $1,000,000.00 music collection to re-rip into a new format. AAC is added into the supported formats mainly in the interests of Apple's business strategy. Since not many competitors' players support AAC, an iTunes user with their AAC files will feel less inclined to buy a player that doesn't support that format.

Re:Ogg Vorbis support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045056)

I have a 30GB iAudio, and I don't even care about the iPod anymore. Ipod is, well, ass backwards compared to the newer alternatives now... Battery life is excellent, no issues and it's my favorite player for ogg or flac, even plays movies (not the reason I got it for, nor do I care, heh). There are great alternatives out there which outdo the ipod in many areas.

Um.....no (5, Interesting)

ericdano (113424) | about 8 years ago | (#15044850)

Judging from what I have seen, no. Cell phone companies seem to want to LOCK people into buying songs over their networks. And, the two phones out that work with iTunes limit you to 100 songs. What would replace an iPod is an iPod with cellphone features. I don't need games on my phone. I like having the camera, but it is a pain to get pictures off it (I have a RAZR).

Give me something like a Treo, except in the size of an iPod or RAZR and I'd be happy to donate my iPod with video to someone.

Re:Um.....no (0)

wfberg (24378) | about 8 years ago | (#15044861)

Give me something like a Treo, except in the size of an iPod or RAZR and I'd be happy to donate my iPod with video to someone.

Something like a iMate JAMin [imate.com]?

Re:Um.....no (0, Redundant)

ericdano (113424) | about 8 years ago | (#15044893)

Yuck! No way. Plus, it runs Windows.

Re:Um.....no (0)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 8 years ago | (#15044980)

Plus, it runs Windows.

Sadly you're right, that that's one of its problems. I have one of these: http://www.clubimate.com/t-DETAILS_JAM.aspx [clubimate.com]. The form factor is great, and with a couple of 1GB memory chips, you can have enough mp3s to make it worthwhile. The OS though, sucks big ones.

Mostly its just dumb design decisions like burying the battery level indicator and screen brightness settings three menus deep, but it also locks up a few times each month. That's bad enough in a general purpose OS, but absolutely unacceptable in a phone. I've even had it crash hard enough to wipe all of my data, and the ActiveSync software is appallingly unhelpful for tasks like backing up phone data.

The thing is though, it could have been a great device. Even now, if I could replace the crappy OS/software, It'd potentially be a keeper, but as it is, I'll be replacing it with a more conventional phone as soon as I can find a buyer for it.

Re:Um.....no (1)

ericdano (113424) | about 8 years ago | (#15044996)

That would be one thing that I give Kudos to Motorola and Nokia for. Not using Windows, I don't think I ever had to "reboot" my phones. Ever. EVER. And my aging Palm Vx, I think in the last year I've had to reboot it ONCE. And I use it all the time.

I think a lot of these new Phones and other things are just too flashy and what not. If it works, and works well, people go for it. Look at the Blackberry (which I really should have gotten over my RAZR).......

Re:Um.....no (1)

soupdevil (587476) | about 8 years ago | (#15045019)

My Motorola phone crashes a couple of times a week. I can't remember the last time my Windows laptop crashed.

Re:Um.....no (1)

matthew.coulson (642617) | about 8 years ago | (#15044958)

Too thick, and the exposed screen would get destroyed in a day if I treated it like a mobile phone. Stuffed into pockets with keys, etc.

Qtek (1)

boldra (121319) | about 8 years ago | (#15044984)

That looks like a qtek s200 [www.qtek.nu]. Those things are rebranded under 100 different names and still seem good. T-Online MPA II, Vodafone VPA III and so on. Be sure to check out the qtek 9000 [www.qtek.nu], with UMTS, a 500 Mhz processor and 640x480 pixes, it's even more impressive. Still, they're a little larger than the form factor the original poster was talking about, and they don't have the 20/30G of the phones the article was talking about.

Re:Um.....no (3, Informative)

Sentry21 (8183) | about 8 years ago | (#15044876)

I like having the camera, but it is a pain to get pictures off it (I have a RAZR).

Just use the 'browse device' feature of your OS's bluetooth support and grab it out of /pictures/ - ten seconds, start to finish, I do it with mine all the time.

Re:Um.....no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044919)

Some very large cellular providers cripple the phones to prevent you from using OBEX transfers to move binary data, such as images taken with your phone's cruddy built in camera, directly to the computer. Of course, in the United States, these same cellular providers require you to use a phone purchased from them, so don't bother trying to get around this by buying some other phone.

It's even harder if your phone also doesn't happen to have Bluetooth.

Sometimes there are complex, techie, workarounds and hacks to fix what the provider has broken, but these aren't tenable solutions for most people.

Why iTunes/Jukebox? (1)

TheStonepedo (885845) | about 8 years ago | (#15044955)

For what you pay for a Motorola phone you could have another brand's bluetooth-capable phone and a USB bluetooth adapter. Motorola and Apple both make aesthetically-pleasing hardware. Apple has been an innovative software company for years, but Motorola simply can't cut the muster. My Nokia 6230 supports mp3 natively and has an MMC card reader that can handle up to 1 GB. I can have as many songs as I want, never use jukebox software such as iTunes, and transfer to and from any PC that recognizes my bluetooth adapter. My mother's Motorola phone supports mp3 natively, has bluetooth, and costs a fair deal more than my phone, yet Motorola charges its customers for PC software to connect via bluetooth.

When choosing a device that has several functions, the ease of using these functions and the added costs of using all of the functions should play a major role. If you want a camera and a phone and a music player, you should buy something that can be used for all three out of the box with no extra gimmicks.

Re:Why iTunes/Jukebox? (1)

ericdano (113424) | about 8 years ago | (#15044979)

Not sure why you think using iTunes=limit on a number of songs you have. It would be great syncing iTunes via bluetooth, but that just would take forever, and sap the battery out of a phone.

The ability to have a card slot on the phone is cool, but the Nokia 6230 looks like a boat compared to the RAZR or the SLVR. But I agree that Motorola really dings customers for extras, but they do make nice products. I just want something iPod sized but with a PDA/Phone as well.

Re:Um.....no (1)

Haeleth (414428) | about 8 years ago | (#15045041)

Cell phone companies seem to want to LOCK people into buying songs over their networks.

So, how many online music stores can you buy music for your iPod from?

And, the two phones out that work with iTunes limit you to 100 songs.

Quick question for you: do you think that this is because

(a) the phone companies are stupid and want to provide you with a crap experience, or
(b) Apple refused to let them compete with the iPod on a level playing-field?

Oh, sure, Apple has every right to decide how much access they give other people to their store. It's theirs, after all. I just find it vaguely amusing that people are so quick to assume that the iPod is sustained by any sort of technical advantage, rather than by vendor lock-in. (ITMS is popular, so people go there first, and then they discover they have to buy an iPod because nothing else will play the music they've bought. If Microsoft pulled that one, they'd be crucified...)

Oh, boo hoo (-1, Troll)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 8 years ago | (#15044860)

Steve Jobs has said that the point of iTunes is to sell iPods - how is it that he cares about someone else cloning the hardware? Also, interop sould kind of run counter to the stated purpose of apple's music service.

Re:Oh, boo hoo (0, Flamebait)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | about 8 years ago | (#15044946)

Steve Jobs has said that the point of iTunes is to sell iPods - how is it that he cares about someone else cloning the hardware?
If someone is selling iPodalikes, that's poaching his sales of iPods Do you have MBA from the University of Cerealpacket?

Re:Oh, boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045006)

Steve Jobs has said that the point of iTunes is to sell iPods - how is it that he cares about someone else cloning the hardware?/i>
Nevermind what he says. Apple makes money selling iPods. Apple breaks even, at best, with iTunes.

Clone Attack? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044868)

I came in thinking this story was about Natalie Portman in that ripped midriff from Attack of the Clones. Uh... that part where she was naked and petrified of course.

From TFA (5, Insightful)

ereshiere (945922) | about 8 years ago | (#15044870)

iPods themselves will have to become phones.

Yes, and an Xbox will have to become a Playstation, lions will lay down with lambs, and Apple will be forced to give up on OSX and move to Windows.

I have a phone already. I have an iPod.

Re:From TFA (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044942)

...and Apple will be forced to give up on OSX and move to Windows.

Aren't they?

But, But, But ... (5, Interesting)

fastdecade (179638) | about 8 years ago | (#15044874)

Hasn't this "clone attack" been happening for years, from the likes of Sony, Creative, Archos, and others? What's different here, what the headline doesn't make clear, is that these are *phones*.

The important quote is buried towards the end of the article:

With digital music and video it will be Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson -- the mobile phone manufacturers.

This year they will start releasing phones with the same storage as iPods -- up to 30 gigabytes. iPods themselves will have to become phones.

One device in my pocket or two? It's a no-brainer if you ask me.

Re:But, But, But ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044884)

Yep, my biggest complaint about my mobile phone has always been that the battery lasts too long.

Now, if I used it to play MP3s as well - maybe I'd need to charge it every day.


Re:But, But, But ... (4, Insightful)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | about 8 years ago | (#15044903)

>will start releasing phones with the same storage as iPods -- up to 30 gigabytes

that's half the storage of my *current* iPod. and I hope they're going to have support for podcasts, photos, videos etc.... actually, forget that, what about the chance that it'll even sync with my mac in the first place, let alone not requiring me to use it's own ugly little app that messes everything about?

>One device in my pocket or two? It's a no-brainer if you ask me.

twice the battery life in my pocket or not? imo it's a bad idea to converge devices that have different usage patterns. for example phone: always on, with occasional high usage, always with me. ipod: usually off with regular high usage, usually with me but I like being able to NOT take it everywhere. also, phone battery life can be important in emergencies, ipod battery life is just entertainment. my ability to use a converged device would be restricted by needing to ensure enough battery life remaining for emergencies; my ipod can run dry if I so choose.

I'd probably get an iPhone, but not because it's a converged device, but because it'd probably be a very high quality "just works" phone with complete mac compatibility.

Re:But, But, But ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044987)

"I hope they're going to have support for podcasts" ...what? podcasts are just mp3 audio files, any mp3 player has "support".

Re:But, But, But ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045027)

and I hope they're going to have support for podcasts, photos, videos etc....

Mobile phones have had support for media files (which is all "podcasts" are), photos, and videos for longer than iPods have. Heck, mobile phones have had cameras built into them for years now.

actually, forget that, what about the chance that it'll even sync with my mac in the first place,

Quite slim, since Apple's proprietary and incompatible system is carefully designed to lock you into Apple products.

But if you'd read the fucking article, you'd know that if you're a Mac user, you're irrelevant to this discussion anyway. The whole point is that the iPod is going to end up being used only by Mac users, while everyone else will move on to standards-based cross-platform-compatible systems.

let alone not requiring me to use it's own ugly little app that messes everything about?

What, like iTunes?

No Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044938)

I'd rather not have an iPod that could render me infertile.

Re:No Thanks (0, Troll)

iMac Were (911261) | about 8 years ago | (#15044952)

I'd rather not have an iPod that could render me infertile.
If you use any Apple hardware you're effectively infertile anyway: babies don't come out of men's botties.

Re:But, But, But ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044939)

As if storage space is the iPod's only advantage over its competitors...

Re:But, But, But ... (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 years ago | (#15044965)

I still don't see it happening. It's more like, "One device in your pocket that does everything poorly or two devices dedicated to their niche" right now.

And truthfully, as a consumer, I wouldn't want all my eggs in one basket. At one point, I'd prefer to have my phone stay my phone, my mp3 player stay my mp3 player, and my pda be a good pda. And my digital camera be a good digital camera.

Up to now, any "convergence" device I have used was always a piece of crap in terms of interface if nothing else (and usually there was always many something elses). There are successful devices that converge things together (the PC) but usually at the cost of many generations to get it right, till then they are clunky gadgets.

I believe that's where the iPod has it's popularity, it's not a clunky gadget but is elegant and easy to use for its purpose. Rather, most of the time it JUST WORKS. The convergence devices, especially the first few generations, will not be able to get around this.

Maybe in five years, phones will be competent (as in easy and intuitive to use) mp3 players, pdas, cameras, and what not in one pocket - but I don't think it has come yet. It's probably not the hardware either, but the software.....

I think Apple has the leg up in this arena anyway, as seen with the video iPod, I think it can grow the iPod to be a PDA (NEWTON!!!!) without major problem, it has the screen and input, just not a stylus, or a phone (which I believe is coming out already), and put a camera on it (like the MacBook Pros have) if they are so inclined. They have the mindshare, the ball is in their court to do with as they please.

Re:But, But, But ... (4, Insightful)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | about 8 years ago | (#15044969)

Sony? Ugh!
Creative - weren't they the ones who didn't look good at all and were expensive?
Archos? Whossat?

iRiver: good devices, but the nice newer ones (like the H10 I almost bought) didn't have Vorbis support anymore, and I want at least one good format (AAC or Vorbis) to rip my CDs to.

So that leaves: Apple.

I don't own an iPod, only a humble cellphone with 30MB memory, but if I were to buy anything right now, I'd have to say Apple's competitors just don't cut it.

But there's nothing inherent that says that in the future they couldn't build awesome devices.

Re:But, But, But ... (1)

jonasw (778909) | about 8 years ago | (#15045018)

One device in my pocket or two? It's a no-brainer if you ask me.
One device in my pocket that does two things badly or two that do them well? It's a no-brainer if you ask me.

Obligatory (5, Funny)

jibjibjib (889679) | about 8 years ago | (#15044879)

Begun, this iPod clone war has.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044960)

Unless those clones are just a Phantom Menace, beware of the revenge of the Steve. He might call for order 66 which, knowing Apple, might be something like "Sue them All".

Re:Obligatory (4, Funny)

jcr (53032) | about 8 years ago | (#15044986)

Over, it is. Won, Apple has. When to quit, the others know not.


While The Age is usually a good read ... I call BS (2, Insightful)

QuatermassX (808146) | about 8 years ago | (#15044880)

Alan Kohler's piece in The Age just seems to be an unfocused piece of non-analysis. What was the point of all this? A warning against the siren call of the little white box? A broad survey of the digital media playback marketplace?

Oh, I see ... after a paean to Apple's iPod (well, he seems like a happy customer), he goes all gloom and doom as he thinks the mobile phone operators will be chomping on the iPod for their din din. Right.

Of course that's real perspective on the way the market is going, but Kohler doesn't provide and facts, figures, reasoned arguments, etc ... And someone needs to submit this to the Apple Deathwatch folks from TFA: "It is quite a thrilling time to be alive. We will witness the creation and destruction of a market dominance in the time it used to take to work up a business plan." Sure, um, ok.

Please, lets try not to promote, sloppy, lazy journalism and opinion pieces ... Kohler's sub should have sent this story back.

A 'journalist' who drones on and on and on (4, Interesting)

ynotds (318243) | about 8 years ago | (#15045024)

According to Kohler's Wikipedia stub [wikipedia.org] he has been at it for 35 years. He is ubiquitos here, turning up in the middle of our TV news with some of other spin graph to punctuate the too familar droning to the day's 'numbers'.

He is trying to become his own industry [eurekareport.com.au], in pale imitation of the likes of Crikey [crikey.com.au] who have actually been prepared to do the hard yards and enjoyed some deserved success. But I've yet to hear Kohler say anything perceptive. Certainly this piece lacks any suggestion of coherence.

Didnt Motorola and Apple work together? (2, Insightful)

Zantetsuken (935350) | about 8 years ago | (#15044883)

for the ROKR (I know it was, at least supposedly, a total pos) and another model or other thats supposed to be better than the ROKR (both are supposed to work with iTunes, right?)

Correct me if I'm wrong (about my argument or the phones), but that looks more like cooperation than competition...

I Don't Buy It (4, Interesting)

neoshroom (324937) | about 8 years ago | (#15044886)

This year they [cell phone makers] will start releasing phones with the same storage as iPods -- up to 30 gigabytes. iPods themselves will have to become phones.

This makes perfect sense. We all know cell phones are amazingly easy to use with simple and consistent interfaces. I can't wait to run out of batteries from listening to music so I miss important phone calls.

There is also the consistent leapfrogging Apple seems to do. This generation of iPods might be able to be almost feature-matched by the next generation of cell phones, but by the time the next generation of cell phones come out the iPod will be a VCR/TiVO as well as a music player.

I'm sure journalists then will be saying the iPod will die because the next generation of cell phones will play videos.

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"Killer app" (5, Insightful)

dotwaffle (610149) | about 8 years ago | (#15044887)

When will people get over the Killer App mentaility? The iPod wouldn't sell nearly as well without network effects. I'll explain:

iPod connects to iTunes, which does an excellent job of managing your music.
iTunes connects to the iTunes Music Store, which is a cheap(ish) and easy way to get tracks, as well as easily manage podcasts and subscriptions - if TV shows were available in the UK, I'd be using iTunes to get them, almost definitely.
iTMS connects with pretty much ALL the major music companies, so that when you buy tracks from X, it suggests Y and Z, which you may be interested in.

The combination of all of the above leads to Apple not only having market share, but DESERVING market share - their products are good, and if anyone comes up to me wanting to get into online music, I suggest iPod everytime.

However, as others have said, Ogg Vorbis support should be in iTunes, and either converted within iTunes or playable on the iPod. I can't see it happening anytime soon though :(

Re:"Killer app" (2, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | about 8 years ago | (#15044934)

Why all this fuss about ogg? I'm certainly geeky enough, but I could care less. It'd be adding in another chip that maybe 1% of the userbase would make use of. Say 2% for flac. Within iTunes, yes, especially if it would let me easily convert my flacs to aac lossless. But I don't see it happening. The only devices that currently have flac and ogg support do so just to hope to capture that niche ultra-geek market, not because they're mainstream-necessary. If formats other than mp3 and aac made a big deal to most people, Apple'd certainly add support for them. But they don't. Most people rip to iTunes' default setting (AAC/M4A 128k, I believe) and buy in AAC/M4P, and that's that. I rip to 192kVBR MP3 just on the offchance I ever change devices, but anything other than MP3 is impractical because so few players support it, and it's easy enough to convert (non-crapped) music from AAC to MP3 if I do end up changing players.

You're quite right about the iPod/iTunes integration. I used to hate iTunes and tried every solution out there for managing my iPod as effectively. I suppose I only had that viewpoint because it defaults to my docs\my music as your music folder, not defaults to "my docs\my music or select some other folder", and I couldn't figure out within ten seconds how to change it and add my library from elsewhere (well, that and it made a huge hellish mess of id3 tags once I did get stuff added, because apparently apps can't decide whether to take a logical approach first for artist\album\trackname.ext and fill in the gaps or something to that effect). Once I took a couple hours and got all of my music tagged and labelled properly within iTunes, I can't believe how long I went without it. Connect iPod, syncs, disconnects, charges while still connected. How simple and intuitive. Certainly easier than the drag-and-drop that most geeks seem to like. I too suggest the iPod, not because of it's style (I could mostly care less, it usually lives in my pocket) but because of ease-of-use. Easy to find songs in iTunes, easy though somewhat slower to find songs on the iPod. Playlists are certainly simple enough. Being the town geek, it means less support calls, which is nice.

Re:"Killer app" (-1, Offtopic)

IndigoParadox (953607) | about 8 years ago | (#15045051)

Couldn't care less. If you could care less then it means that it is possible not to care as much as you do now, which implies that you do care.

I'm sorry, I know this is pedantic. However, you used the phrase twice in this post and it drove me up the wall. =O\

Re:"Killer app" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15044991)

Ogg Vorbis support should be in iTunes

The devil you know (MP3, AAC, etc.) is better than the devil you don't know (Ogg). Would I like Ogg support on my iPod? Hell yeah. But it'll never happen.

Posit that the legitimacy of this format has not been tested in court against possible copyright/pattent conflicts. Would you honestly put Ogg support in iTunes/iPod if you were them and risk the lawsuits simply to support the political manifesto that is the GPL? I don't think so. Not if you're part of a company required by law to operate in the best interest of your stock holders you wouldn't.

Another "iPod Killer" article (1)

masonbrown (208074) | about 8 years ago | (#15044892)

How many times have people written about some new device that's going to be THE iPod killer? Well, it hasn't happened yet. Who cares if it's a phone, a video jukebox, or a pocket toaster that plays MP3s, nothing's slowed down the iPod yet. I don't see any of the handset manufacturers getting there any time soon either.

Re:Another "iPod Killer" article (1)

Frodo420024 (557006) | about 8 years ago | (#15044910)

How many times have people written about some new device that's going to be THE iPod killer?

Lots, of course, to little effect. More will come The Apple Advantage is that they have a solid reputation for doing the 'Just works' thing and getting it right. That they seem to have some very able designers doesn't hurt, either. Showing off a brand new iPod is plain attractive :)

My take is that the iPod reaches a market segment that cares less about features/capacity for the money and more about having the cool-factor, and the fact the the iPod is so well designed that it never (well, as perceived...) lets you down.

lock in (4, Insightful)

LetterRip (30937) | about 8 years ago | (#15044894)

That only works if they can work with peoples existing music collections.

People have already bought a massive amount of music through itunes. Thus for those with an itunes locked in collection, it will need to be compatible with Apples DRM. So sony and motorola have to either partner with Apple, figure out a way to migrate Apples DRMed files to their service without an Apple partnership, or go after those individuals which have yet to purchase music through itunes, or who went with one of the competing services.


How much of a threat are these companies? (1)

s000t (894190) | about 8 years ago | (#15044898)

I agree that one device would be a lot easier than two, however I wonder if the battery life of these phone ipods to come will be tolerable. Thestorage space on these phones may be greatly improved, but if I can't listen to my tunes for 3 hours+ while studying and leave my phone on all week, then I'd rather keep my iPod and cell phone separate.

hardware matters little (1)

idlake (850372) | about 8 years ago | (#15044899)

Obviously, the hardware and its capabilities don't matter. Apple didn't get this market because they were first (they were not) or because they are best (they are not--other players have better UIs, more capabilities, more storage, etc. at less money). Apple got this market because of integration with their on-line store, and a good deal of branding, marketing, and design.

Re:hardware matters little (0, Flamebait)

cubicledrone (681598) | about 8 years ago | (#15044933)

or because they are best

Yeah they did. Apple is the best. Everywhere Apple chooses to compete, they build a better product which confounds both their competition and the "tech media." The tech media wants so very badly to declare Windows or Sony or Xbox or Disney or Nokia or somebody, ANYBODY the ultimate winner of all media. But they can't.

Because Apple is better, and they know it.

Re:hardware matters little (3, Informative)

NMerriam (15122) | about 8 years ago | (#15044998)

On the contrary, Apple got this market precisely because it had/has the best UI.

Argue whatever you like about particular pet features/compatibility, but Apple is #1 because they saw what an UI mess most MP3 players (both software and hardware) were and simplified them both so that normal people were capable of operating them without having to know anything about the underlying technology.

Very few competitors have even matched the simplicity of operation, and none have surpassed it yet. Until they do, consumers simply aren't going to be interested in jumping ship without massive financial incentive. And I don't see how anyone can undercut the iPod by a significant margin given Apple's huge volume discount on parts and continued willingness to forego profit for market share.

Re:hardware matters little (1)

zpok (604055) | about 8 years ago | (#15045034)

"other players have better UIs"

Define better UI, please. FYI I don't have an iPod, so I'm not saying you can't possibly be right, but my very limited experience with these gizmo's happens to be "what is this", "WTF" and "Oh please" for everything non iPod, and "mmm, this I get" with the iPod.

I judge consumer stuff by consumer standards, not technological or brand (not saying I'm not sensitive to that, everybody is). And I would love to hear someone explain how a UI could be better than the iPod UI. Serious.

Re:hardware matters little (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045035)

"other players have better UIs, more capabilities, more storage, etc. at less money"

Excuse me, but what player has a better interface than the iPod???

Anyway, typically flawed reasoning from an Apple basher. People who don't "get" Apple always present a simplistic, spec-based, cost/benefit analysis demonstrating Apple's inferiority. They miss the fact that there's more to a product than you can deduce from comparing features, specs, and prices on paper.

This is the same reasoning that would suggest a TransAm is a better car than a BMW because it's cheaper and has more horsepower.

Apple is one of the few large companies today that successfully focuses on the needs and wants of the end user FIRST, instead of making this an afterthought behind the interests of partners, vendors, developers, and resellers. Every other company out there is trying to cram as many "specs & features" into their products with less attention to the actual user experience in terms of reliability, ease of use, and quality of materials and design.

An end product should deliver value that exceeds the sum of its parts.

Mac users have known this for years, but the high price tag of Apple computers has kept the PC using masses from ever tasting the Apple Kool-Aid. With the iPod and iTunes, the masses have now had their taste of what makes Apple special - and they like it and are willing to pay for it, specs be damned.

Fortunately for Apple, their competitors still don't get it. They're still trying to compete by adding more specs, dropping prices, and attempting to leverage their irrelevant market power.

I think not... (2, Funny)

bhunachchicken (834243) | about 8 years ago | (#15044905)

"The iPod/iTunes system will move into a niche with Macintosh computers because Steve Jobs has again stuck with closed architecture and total control. This will happen quickly because mobile phones are being turned over about every year."

Not if all the mobile phone users have died of cancer... [slashdot.org] ROFL! :)

Cry more please (0, Troll)

cubicledrone (681598) | about 8 years ago | (#15044906)

Waah! Apple makes better products!

Waah! Steve Jobs is smarter than us!

Waah! Apple makes it work while we have meetings!

Waah! We want total control and Apple won't let us!

Waah! Competition is too risky! We want a monopoly instead!

Of course, these are the exact same people who probably said "it'll never work" when the first mp3 players were announced. And they said "it'll never work" when Apple built iTunes. And they said "it'll never work" when Apple said they would make money on digital music. And they said "it'll never work" when Apple put it all together with OS X and the Mac and made the best computer system on the market, period.

And, as usual, they were wrong.

Re:Cry more please (3, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | about 8 years ago | (#15044913)

Waah! Competition is too risky! We want a monopoly instead!

Er... Isn't that exactly what Jobs is saying by having private file formats and DRM?


Re:Cry more please (2, Interesting)

cubicledrone (681598) | about 8 years ago | (#15044920)

Er... Isn't that exactly what Jobs is saying by having private file formats and DRM?

Nope. Apple doesn't have a monopoly. They simply have no competition. The reason they have no competition is because other companies spend their time whining instead of building a better product.

Apple, meanwhile, just builds better products.

Re:Cry more please (1)

VoidKitty (961441) | about 8 years ago | (#15044950)

Hooray! Apple owns like 90% of the portable MP3 player market! Which is like, hmm, what, 2% of computer electronics sales? 90% of 2% is awesome! I bet the suits at Apple (who wear only biodegradable suits made from real hippies) will be bathing in my cheap, cheap blood that I will sell them to keep my soul! They must be making like, a billion dollars off this little pony! Or, 2% of Microsoft's net profits for 2002, I think. Oh, wait. I'm supposed to be crying, aren't I? I bet if Apple cornered the market share on making plastic retainer clips for AMD processors, like 90% of ALL plastic retainer clips, you'd be just as smug, huh? Okay, I am crying some more. Thanks a lot, pal!

Re:Cry more please (1)

jcr (53032) | about 8 years ago | (#15044994)

They simply have no competition.

They have competition. They don't have competent competition.


Re:Cry more please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045059)

Apple uses DRM 1) because it's necessary to appease the content owners - aka the music, TV, and movie industries, and 2) yes, to exert some control over their iPod/iTunes business model. Besides, they still support the most important format of all - MP3, which is the only one I use. I do not buy from iTunes. I get my music free from P2P, and if I like it enough, I'll buy the CD and rip MP3s from it.

If Apple can't make money from a semi-proprietary system, then where's the money going to come from to finance all those brilliant product designs that their customers love so much?

For instance, if OSX were licensed to clone makers, sure, Apple would instantly gain enormous market share. But then this would cannibalize sales of their high priced, high quality computer hardware, which would reduce funds available for product design and development, and pretty soon they'd become another bloated company like Microsoft - devoid of quality or innovation. Meanwhile, a big part of the Apple mystique would die with cheap and unreliable hardware ruining the end user experience.

The long term benefit would only be to the clone makers and third party developers, not to the end users.

I can tolerate a benevolent dictator. Microsoft had the opportunity to do the same years ago but they only showed in the end how incompetent they were and how little they cared for the end user.

I won't hold my breath while waiting (5, Interesting)

somewhat_distant (629705) | about 8 years ago | (#15044921)

If they want to kill the iPod, they have to kill iTunes, the iPod and MusicStore in one blow. The iPod success is not just a result of better hardware. It's the whole package, the iLife integration, the fact that it simply works without any hassle.

I organize all my music on my Mac, plug in the iPod, and whooops, shazam or whatever, it's all in my pocket without any technical fuzz.

This may not be the right crowd to voice this opinion in... But in this case I don't want umpteen technical options, and I can live with Apple as a music industry near-monopolist. As long as it works. If someone does it better, fine. Good luck. A colleague just told me that he finally could use his iPod without iTunes due to some hack. Nice! To me, that is a solution without a problem.

Techie stuff is work. Music is play!

And I'm not waiting for an iPod-wannabe (aka iPod-killer).
I'm waiting for something new.

Problem.... (4, Insightful)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | about 8 years ago | (#15044927)

The problem is that battery's won't keep up with both devices. My Cellphone can last 3-4 days with moderate usage (although if I do mobile web on it, the battery usage goes up). If I used it as a MP3 Player which I can already do, the battery would crap out in an hour...

To truely integrate a iPod and a cellphone, it would have to be as large as my last analog only cell phone which was quite large (I lived for a while without a phone). The reason is for the battery. The biggest thing holding a converged mp3 player and cell phone back is the battery. Only fuel cell tech or an advancement in bettery technology will drive this.

its a classic two product lockin (0)

petermgreen (876956) | about 8 years ago | (#15044962)

if you wan't to use your songs purchased from itms (without cracking the drm or throwing away yet more quality by burning and re-ripping) you have to buy ipods

if you wan't to legitimately buy major label music for your ipod over the you have to use itms

so ipod owners are likly end up with some music from itms and the only portable they can play it on will be the ipod. So when thier ipod breaks or they wan't a player for thier spouse or whatever they are going to buy an ipod.

Oh really? (1)

the pickle (261584) | about 8 years ago | (#15044997)

Someone [daringfireball.net] obviously hasn't been reading John Gruber's latest pieces [daringfireball.net]. Idiots.

Maybe TMO could start an "iPod Death Watch" to go along with their "Apple Death Watch", which, IIRC, is up to something like 60 now.

No, I didn't dignify the glaring fearmongering of The Age by reading TFA. That was exactly what they wanted you to do, and Slashdot fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.

erm, no. incorrect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045003)

"..competition from the likes of Nokia and Motorola will rapidly relegate Apple's presence in the market to a corner"

Doesn't anybody realise that the music player on the newer motorola mobiles IS iTunes? I have an apple logo and all on my SLVR! I wish people would do their RESEARCH before writing this nonsense.

Why why why... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045014)

...do people keep writing stories about iPods as if you could only put music from the iTMS on them?

It says:

"The only place you can easily buy material for your iPod, as opposed to stealing it, is the iTunes online store."

and refers to it as a "closed system".

Total nonsense. You can "easily by material for your iPod" on CD. Or, you know, from that dodgy Russian MP3 store.

But it's by no means a "closed system". I have 2,000 songs on my iPod and a total of 12 are from the iTMS.

The same was said about MS and Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045020)

Ain't gonna happen in my lifetime.

Wrong, As Usual (1)

segedunum (883035) | about 8 years ago | (#15045030)

Yes, I know people love these 'mobile phones will kill *insert device here*' stories but it never happens. The biggest problem for the mobile phone companies is that their phones, devices, whatever will not play iTunes songs, so an iPod killer is a bit of a problem unless they want to completely replace peoples' entire iTunes collections. Yer, a huge NGage, mobile phone iPod brick that is way, way, way, way too fiddly to use (and will have several dozen firmware upgrades to get it to work ;)) is going to take over the world!

Another problem is that the only people who talk about mobile phones killing the iPod are analysts writing these stupid articles. Consumers aren't going for it. They use mobiles to call people and their iPod to play music. I mean, that iPod Nano is easily small enough to fit alongside your phone in your pocket, and it means that when you take a call you don't need to faff about with the headphones you've plugged into it or anything else.

Take this comment:

Here is what we know: music and video are going entirely digital. It won't be long before CDs and DVDs are obsolete as storage.

Utterly wrong. The CD and DVD market utterly dwarfs digital sales by a factor of many times, and people simply do not completely trust digital only purchases. There are several other comments that are just utter tosh as well. Basically the article boils down to this:

"Oh my God! Apple and the iPod are streaking into the distance and leaving mobile phone companies, and especially Microsoft behind, so we'll dredge up the same crap about this universal mobile and music device that won't exist. We'll also dredge up the usual rubbish about Apple having the early market and Microsoft taking over later due to economies of scale, like in the PC era, painting over the fact that they simply do not exist in the brand conscious consumer market."

It's the usual Microsoft wishful thinking over the iPod's death, painting over the fact that they have nothing to replace it with and...well...nothing basically. Not worth the read or the time.

Dear Mr. Alan Kohler (3, Insightful)

theolein (316044) | about 8 years ago | (#15045031)

Author of "Attack of the Clones", a.k.a "It's April 2 and I don't know what to write about, so I'll write one trashing the iPod and you can all listen to it on PODCAST which I advertise on the bottom of my page".

When Nokia and Motorola make a phone that's as easy to use as an iPod (have you seen mobile phone menus?), is as simple as an iPod (have you seen mobile phone navigation?), is as reliable as an iPod (my brand new Sony Ericsson crashes every 3 days, my previous Nokia would crash every two weeks or so), with the battery life of an iPod (how long does your phone last while playing sounds? mine lasts about 1 and half hours max), the capacity of an iPod (this one I belive will happen sooner than the rest) and the tight integration with iTunes, which is god's gift to music store software and jukeboxes, then I'll believe an article that an Australian hack in Melbourne wrote on the day of the Melbourne Formula one.

phone for calling (1)

zpok (604055) | about 8 years ago | (#15045047)

call me old fashioned but I like a phone that is good at keeping my phone numbers handy and making calls. I always go for the cheapest Nokia. Because it's easy.
And I don't see that changing soon. Maybe I'm not typical. Or maybe I am, most people with iPods lack the interest or capacity to handle all those superior iPod killers out there. So maybe they won't buy a phone that adds ten more features to replace their stupid simple iPod?
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