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Dell Quietly Leaves MP3 Market

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the going-gently dept.

166

An AD-Esque Sitcom writes "Dell has quietly retired from the portable player market. The Dell DJ Ditty — whose website is nothing more than an error now — was absent from Dell's catalogue, and the company was not offering any follow-up products, instead preferring to stick with PCs, printers, and not killing people in fiery laptop-related explosions. Dell will still be a third-party reseller of other MP3 players like the Creative Zen, but has left the Windows-based player market to the four big players — SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative."

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A Lesson for Late Comers? (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974570)

Back in the day there was a phrase going around, which seemed to have great merit: Stick to your core competency. While not always good advice, for there were a few companies who diversified and prospered, it was often easy to find examples of where companies had utterly done themselves in by getting into product lines and services where they were out of their depth or the product/service really wasn't ever going to produce the return hoped for (during hard times these units are often the first closed because the accountants can readliy point them out as hemorraging cash.) Good for Dell, get out and put your mind on sorting out your battery woes and making better PC's (the past years models are a far cry from the quality of early Dell units.)

Microsoft, still willing to bet billions you have an iPod killer and wish to enter the digital music player market? of course, you love the challenge and it encourages those mean old euro dogs to request Windows with the media junk bundled the EU is currently spanking you for.

Re:A Lesson for Late Comers? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974661)

"Stick to your core competency"

Yeah, I wish Apple would have listened to you before they started selling iPods :-)

Re:A Lesson for Late Comers? (-1, Offtopic)

Hamilton Publius (909539) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974836)

Point of No Return?
by Thomas Sowell (August 22, 2006)

It is hard to think of a time when a nation -- and a whole civilization -- has drifted more futilely toward a bigger catastrophe than that looming over the United States and western civilization today.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran and North Korea mean that it is only a matter of time before there are nuclear weapons in the hands of international terrorist organizations. North Korea needs money and Iran has brazenly stated its aim as the destruction of Israel -- and both its actions and its rhetoric suggest aims that extend even beyond a second Holocaust.

Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

This is not just another in the long history of military threats. The Soviet Union, despite its massive nuclear arsenal, could be deterred by our own nuclear arsenal. But suicide bombers cannot be deterred.

Fanatics filled with hate cannot be either deterred or bought off, whether Hezbollah, Hamas or the government of Iran.

The endlessly futile efforts to bring peace to the Middle East with concessions fundamentally misconceive what forces are at work.

Hate and humiliation are key forces that cannot be bought off by "trading land for peace," by a "Palestinian homeland" or by other such concessions that might have worked in other times and places.

Humiliation and hate go together. Why humiliation? Because a once-proud, dynamic culture in the forefront of world civilizations, and still carrying a message of their own superiority to "infidels" today, is painfully visible to the whole world as a poverty-stricken and backward region, lagging far behind in virtually every field of human endeavor.

There is no way that they can catch up in a hundred years, even if the rest of the world stands still. And they are not going to wait a hundred years to vent their resentments and frustrations at the humiliating position in which they find themselves.

Israel's very existence as a modern, prosperous western nation in their midst is a daily slap across the face. Nothing is easier for demagogues than to blame Israel, the United States, or western civilization in general for their own lagging position.

Hitler was able to rouse similar resentments and fanaticism in Germany under conditions not nearly as dire as those in most Middle East countries today. The proof of similar demagogic success in the Middle East is all around.

What kind of people provide a market for videotaped beheadings of innocent hostages? What kind of people would throw an old man in a wheelchair off a cruise liner into the sea, simply because he was Jewish?

What kind of people would fly planes into buildings to vent their hate at the cost of their own lives?

These are the kinds of people we are talking about getting nuclear weapons. And what of ourselves?

Do we understand that the world will never be the same after hate-filled fanatics gain the ability to wipe whole American cities off the face of the earth? Do we still imagine that they can be bought off, as Israel was urged to buy them off with "land for peace" -- a peace that has proved to be wholly illusory?

Even ruthless conquerors of the past, from Genghis Khan to Adolf Hitler, wanted some tangible gains for themselves or their nations -- land, wealth, dominion. What Middle East fanatics want is the destruction and humiliation of the west.

Their treatment of hostages, some of whom have been humanitarians serving the people of the Middle East, shows that what the terrorists want is to inflict the maximum pain and psychic anguish on their victims before killing them.

Once these fanatics have nuclear weapons, those victims can include you, your children and your children's children.

The terrorists need not start out by wiping our cities off the map. Chances are they would first want to force us to humiliate ourselves in whatever ways their sadistic imaginations could conceive, out of fear of their nuclear weapons.

After we, or our children and grandchildren, find ourselves living at the mercy of people with no mercy, what will future generations think of us, that we let this happen because we wanted to placate "world opinion" by not acting "unilaterally"? Will they care that there was applause among the posts on Slashdot when a western city is obliterated?

We are fast approaching the point of no return.

Re:A Lesson for Late Comers? (3, Interesting)

bangenge (514660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975026)

apple would have loved to have stuck to their core competency, but they gambled. but they had a good (and you might even say great) marketing strategy, a good (again, conservative estimate) product and a market still not really saturated at that time. i have to admit, although you might say luck had to do a lot with the ipod's success, they did what they could to eliminate the need to rely on luck. dell apparently realized that they can't compete with the 50000000lb gorilla in there with the other known consumer electronic brands (sony, panasonic, creative) already having a tough time themselves. coincidentally, i was "watching" tv the other night (i'm in japan right now and i don't understand japanese that much), and i saw a chart that *probably* says that apple has about 50% share of the MP3 player market, with sony at 20% (i hope someone can check me on this one). if sony can't get a bigger share HERE in japan, why should dell have it? as much a lot of companies want to come out with an ipod-killer, they really can't do much about it.

There will be an iPod killer (5, Insightful)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974730)

Companies that don't ever diversify don't always do well either. Dell's foray into the MP3 market turned out to be ill conceived, but as the great Homer put it "No matter how good you are at something, there's always about a million people better than you." Dell were on the bottom and gave up (probably a wise decision) but the Apple iPod is just one of an eventual million other better products. I see no reason why any company with enough money and ingenuity can't beat the iPod into second place, it's just a matter of time.

Re:There will be an iPod killer (3, Insightful)

peektwice (726616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974879)

There will be an iPod killer

And monkeys might fly out my butt...hey...what the fuck...

Seriously though...all the supposed iPod killers thus far have been pitiful imitators.
The real iPod killer is likely to be either

A. something else from Apple, who spends a TON of money on interface design from an artistic and human approach, or

B. something entirely different, that is not just a media player. This is why you find iTunes on phones. Apple realizes that this or potentially the PDA market can displace them from their throne, and they are ahead of the curve.

Re:There will be an iPod killer (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974937)

You based that on the assumption that Apple is doing nothing but wait for someone to take over. There is a huge R&D going on behind the screen. Just look at the patents Apple get. For all we know, they already have the next generation iPod almost ready for manufacturing. Not only the "iPod killer" compete with the iPod on the market, but it must kill this hidden target. Not an easy thing to do if you don't know what you must kill. Furthermore, time is what you don't have. The longer it takes to kill iPod, the bigger iPod userbase out there to overtake. The estimate now is 50 millions and in a couple years, it can be 100 millions. If it takes a couple years to come up with a true iPod killer, Apple still won't die right away. 3rd party vendors won't simply dismiss the 100 million userbase. That gives Apple time to design an iPod-killer killer. And your player is not compatible with the biggest paid music download service.

So far, there is one iPod killer. The company is called Apple. Its product, iPod nano, killed iPod mini at its height of popularity.

Re:There will be an iPod killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974975)

"iPod nano, killed iPod mini"

Both suck donkeys ass. Sandisk Sansa is million times better.

Re:There will be an iPod killer (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975435)

Aside from anything else...

If it takes a couple years to come up with a true iPod killer, Apple still won't die right away. 3rd party vendors won't simply dismiss the 100 million userbase. That gives Apple time to design an iPod-killer killer. And your player is not compatible with the biggest paid music download service.

This doesn't really add up. Say someone does come up with said killer. ITMS provides /some/ revenue to Apple, but all those units in circulation don't generate revenue for Apple (with the exception of those manufacturers who pay license fees for "made for iPod" - and even then, that's strongly dependent on the licensing model. So the userbase isn't /hugely/ important - it doesn't change the then "obsolesence" (I know, not strictly accurate phrase) of the unit versus that which has surpassed it.

the problem is stock holders (4, Insightful)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974966)

I see no reason why any company with enough money and ingenuity can't beat the iPod into second place, it's just a matter of time.

The bedevelling problem is that public companies have these annoying stock holders who have little patience waiting for a product line to turn a profit. With Dell in particular, they've got razor-thin margins on EVERYTHING, and a bunch of stockholders screaming for profits to double year-after-year. Dell has far less time than a company like Microsoft where they've got huge margins on the OS and office suites, so they frequently win the 'cut off the air supply' waiting game, even when they don't have this 'ingenuity' thing you speak of.

Seth

Re:There will be an iPod killer (2, Insightful)

JonLatane (750195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975004)

Undoubtedly someone will eventually beat out the iPod, or other devices will become small and powerful enough to toss it into that chasm called obsolesence. However, as it stands today there's pretty much no way for the iPod to lose out, even with a consumer base that is more open to change than ever before. The word "iPod" is to MP3 players as JIF is to peanut butter, Windex is to window cleaner, and Lysol is to disinfectants. I could name at least 10 people off the top of my head, more if I sat and thought for a while, who can tell you all about how awesome iPods are but would just look at you and scratch their head if you said the word "MP3 Player." The only way iPod can fail is if it just utterly fails to keep up with the competition, has some kind of severe flaw that hurts users in some way, or (as I said before) becomes obsolete.

Simple Lesson Learned (2, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974884)

Windoze Media is a loser. Hell, they gave those things and the music away and people did not use them. A friend of mine got one from his apartment complex as a spiff for not moving. The DRM'd music the RIAA tried to push on campuses was a flop even when they gave it away. LSU never got suckered with that one so my buddy never bothered. He used WMP, as much as it sucks, to load it up and enjoyed it the player. Would he have spent $200 for it? Never. When he gets a new computer and WMP no longer works with his little device, the device is going in the trash. Music is about fun. Cool is easy. DRM is not fun and little devices that don't work everywhere are not easy. If Michael Dell can't push it, no one can.

As someone else pointed out, easy is when the device shows up as a mass storage device and plays whatever format you have without transcoding.

Re:Simple Lesson Learned (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975188)

It's Windows. And last I checked, iPod/iTunes were still DRM'd up the wazoo.

Re:Simple Lesson Learned (2, Insightful)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975282)

iPod/iTunes has a lot of DRM? Have you ever used iTunes with an iPod? It's crazy simple and transparent. Remember, Apple *had* to include some kind of DRM to get the distribution rights they did; the record companies demanded it. Even then, it's very light DRM compared to other stuff out there. Easy to strip if you really wanted to. Burn it to CD if you like. As far as DRM goes, it's pretty damn lightweight. Don't like DRM? Rip CD's and just copy the files to the iPod. It's possible Apple gets away with this light DRM because it's tied to a single player, the iPod with iTunes.

If you had to use approved encrypted headphones to hear the music, like they want with HDTV, then I'd agree with you. Apple has to include DRM, so they do, but it's not hardcore DRM.

Re:Simple Lesson Learned (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975310)

Parent was complaining about how DRM and devices don't work everywhere. I can't buy music from iTunes and stick it into my Walkman phone. Ya, I'd have to burn it to CD and then rip it. I wouldn't call that easy.

Re:A Lesson for Late Comers? (1)

vivek7006 (585218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974986)

Stick to your core competency

What if apple had followed your advice? We would have never seen an ipod. As the old saying goes, its better to try and fail rather than not try at all.

Re:A Lesson for Late Comers? (2, Insightful)

FoxconnGuy (997669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975105)

Apple has sticked to its core competency: Design fantastic products and marketing them. Though not always work, but for a consumer electronic product, Apple has good chance to win the fancy high-end ones. Especially with new business model been built. Apple joined the player market with iTunes supporting its iPod products. While back then if you tell someone to sell MP3 in this way, he/she mostly would thought you're out of your mind: RIAA will not allow that! Dell is good at: cost down and stream line the manufacturing all the way to service. With a PC or laptop, the price has been the critical factor you consider when you buy one (for most of us). That's one of the domains their core competency has effect on. I think designing fancy new stuff and dealing with the media industry shall not be their expertise (although they are supposed to be good at talking over phone.) You know what? I think Steve Jobs will not be Steve Jobs in Dell. Another example is dual version PC from Apple. Apple is selling their PC MAC in a new way. And by the time people found a dual-boot PC can work, you'll see *maybe* Dell selling PC that can dual-booting Linux and Windows with a very good price .

Re:A Lesson for Late Comers? (2, Insightful)

tkdog (889567) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975184)

Except I think Apple would take the view that they did stick to their core competency - making hardware and software blend into a useful appliance. The iPod has less of a range of functions than the things they typically make (Macs) but I think they see it as a "post-PC" gadget. A device that fits in your hand (or pocket) and allows you to do stuff - listen to music, watch video, carry files, some light PDA stuff so far. But there is a potential for them to build from what they have. The idea that all Apple is interested in is personal computers I don't think is valid. They were limited to that by a combination of available technology, money issues and inertia but I wouldn't be surprised if they released additional non-Mac "appliances", and considered them to be core products.

Re:A Lesson for Late Comers? (2, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975078)

Back in the day there was a phrase going around, which seemed to have great merit: Stick to your core competency.

You mean the way Apple stuck to its core competency as a computer hardware/OS supplier, and not a music distributor, or developer of portable music devices?

That phrase should be ammended to "stick to your competencies". Consumers don't care whether or not this new service is "core", as long as the company does a good job with it. See also Microsoft's foray into hardware, with keyboards, mice and X-boxes, often praised by people who don't particularly like their software.

In general, companies who don't diversify die. Once they fill their original product's niche, and get the attention of all their target market, there is no way to grow except diversification. And if a company isn't growing, it's dying. That's particularly true of companies with a retail model; once you've sold your product to everyone who wants one, the only sales you're going to get are for replacements. That volume of sale won't be able to support the sort infrastructure you had when you were growing, so your company wil have to downsize. As you downsize, your ability to produce and sell your product likewise decreases, and you start the slow (or more often, very fast) spiral into obscurity.

Re:A Lesson for Late Comers? (2, Informative)

70Bang (805280) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975190)


I agree, but there's a hairball working to choke that off a bit. ;)

It's called dividends and keeping the stockholders happy

The Rule of 72 [1] means every three years will require an annual growth of 24%. That's hard to do year-in and year-out. To make the cut, you either increase sales at a frisky pace, increase the number of products people can buy, or buy someone else.

The responses to maintain whatever magic numbers are expected are obvious, finite, and generate a lot of pain. Those who are in pain are very good at showing people sh5t flows downhill. And the various levels of management who normally do one of their most important tasks, acting as a buffer have to put that aside.

I've been through it a couple of times.

The simplest example was in the computer book publishing world, where the executives wore gold handcuffs, which is the general method of motivation throughout the business world. Word was given to the parent company [that] the next year's sales would increase 20%. Word within the division (holding the imprints) was an increase of 30% would be required. If anything over 20% occurred, the divisional prez made his bosses happy. The internal 20% was a different story: it affected those who answered to him. The only problem at the CEO/Publisher level was: the number of titles published within each imprint couldn't change.

Cook the books? {snicker} Books were "pulled up a month" (either monthly, quarterly, or annually): if they were scheduled for early to mid September, an order to find ways to cut corners and get it into the August schedule was made. Scheduled for mid to late October? They'd find a way to pull it into September in order to make monthly and quarterly numbers. (Fun?) What happened if Borland or Microsoft didn't ship their software on schedule or made some changes, albeit minor, between their final build and the gold disk? It took some time before I could convince them to make their "Ship To Publisher" date the same as software's "Gold to Manufacturer" and there wouldn't be as much jumping around.
________________________

[1] Doubling occurs when ( 72 == years * percentage)

Hey (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974576)

Atleast they didnt leave explosively. You gotta give them credit for that much.

Better... (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974739)

...to go out with a whimper than a bang, eh?

Re:Better... (1)

70Bang (805280) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974957)


...to go out with a whimper than a bang, eh?


...that's what Rio did, isn't it?

Someone correct me, please, but didn't Rio predate iPod?

Snakes on an MP3 Player (5, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974577)

I guess Dell couldn't make use of all that Snakes on a Plane tie-in publicity, huh?

What, you didn't notice it? Small wonder, considering the character listening to the Dell MP3 player was known as iPod Girl [snakesonablog.com] until the last minute [snakesonablog.com] .

Explosions! (2, Insightful)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974582)

"and not killing people in fiery laptop-related explosions."

Nothing like a bit of flamebait to start some lively discussions!

Do we really need these sorts of comments in the summaries?

Re:Explosions! (5, Funny)

w33t (978574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974598)

Of course we need these sorts of comments in the summaries! You vacuous, ill-educated buffoon! ...and when you say "flamebait", are you reffering to the comment or the laptop battery?

Re:Explosions! (1)

An AD-Esque Sitcom (997532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974657)

Flamebait? Come on now -- it was, in fact, a cute little joke, ignore/laugh at your own risk.

Re:Explosions! (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974674)

What's funny is when the mainstream media picks up comments like that and presents 'em as fact.

Re:Explosions! (0, Redundant)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974815)

1) it was a funny.
2) it was not flaimbait.

It's not "flamebait" at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974861)

Like it or not, the fact is that some Dell laptops have experienced problems with explosions. Those laptops were literally exploding, and many were close to injuring people. I'm sure you've seen the video clips. And don't suggest that it was a minor problem. Dell went to the effort of recalling the susceptible laptops. That's a VERY expensive undertaking for a "minor" problem.

The summary is merely pointing out a very real issue with certain Dell laptops. When discussing other failed Dell products, it's important to keep such issues in mind. If you can't keep your emotions under control when facing these kinds of real-world issues, perhaps you should take a break from Slashdot.

Re:It's not (Apple) "flamebait" at all. (1)

klubar (591384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974917)

I believe that Apple is "fast following" the Dell trend in recalling exploding laptop batteries. Apple "we don't need no stinking recall" has finally been pressured into recalling their exploding batteries.

It's not a bug, it's a feature.

Re:It's not (Apple) "flamebait" at all. (1)

TClevenger (252206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975207)

Or maybe they wanted to verify that their batteries were a problem, determine which serial numbers and dates were affected, and make sure Sony was going to stand behind them before opening the floodgates.

Re:Explosions! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974912)

Do we really need these sorts of comments in the summaries?

No kidding! I have a Dell laptop right here, and I've never had a singl....AHHHHHHHH!!!

SEARING HEAT!!!

FLAMES!!!!!!! CHEMICAL SMELL!!! THE HEAT.. IT BURNS!! Good god HELP ME!!!! MY GENITALS ARE ON FIRE! They are reduced to USELESS CINDERS!!

Oh god now my laptop has LEPT INTO THE AIR WITH EXPLOSIVE FORCE! Flaming SPARKS are RAINING on my HIGHLY FLAMMABLE HAIR! Same has now erupted into flames! AHHH!!!!!!!! The pain is UNBEARABLE!

My EYES!!! Filled with BURNING LITHIUM!!! OH GOD WHY, WHY!

ARGHGHH!!!!!!!! The laptop has completed it's ascent and subsequent DESCENT.. now it CRASHED ON MY HEAD!! PAIN!!! The FLAMING SHARDS are now propelled HORIZONTALLY!!!

NOOOOOO!!!! NOT MY FIREWORKS COLLECTION!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! I should've listened to my DEAR MOTHER and not stored them under my work desk. I SHAKE MY FIST AT MY MOTHER!!! CURSING her for bringing me into this world, only to MEET WITH A FLAMING LITHIUM DEATH!!! MY FIST THEN SHAKES AT MICHAEL DELL, the bringer of HELLFIRE!

My charred body, lying prone on the ground, PRAYING that the SWEET RELEASE of DEATH will deliver me from TORMENT!!! YOUR RECALL IS USELESS TO A CORPSE.

Re:Explosions! (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975211)

Wait...how the hell did you type that last bit when you were dead? ...freaky...

Now they've lost so many opportunities... (4, Funny)

w33t (978574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974586)

to kill people in fiery MP3-player-related explosions.

Re:Now they've lost so many opportunities... (2, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974636)

...they still have the opportunity to kill people in fiery printer-related explosions, at least that one would be a little more colorful.

HA! (1)

bacterial_pus (863883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974587)

What were they expecting with a name like this!

Re:HA! (2, Funny)

bacterial_pus (863883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974776)

Quick! What rhymes with Ditty?

Re:HA! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974800)

Pretty.

Re:HA! (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974814)

kitty [sanrio.com]

Re:HA! (1)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974968)

pity, zitty....for starters. oh shitty, I forgot titty.

Re:HA! (1)

kabz (770151) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974888)

It could have been worse ... It could have been called the "Dell Pinto"

I can't imagine that FORD would still call copyright infringement. Let burning cars lie and all that.

They entered even more quietly. (5, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974610)

I'd never even HEARD of the "DJ Ditty" until this morning's radio news mentioned that Dell had dropped it.

With PR like that - versus Apple's dancing silhouettes - it's no surprise it never sold.

Re:They entered even more quietly. (1)

StarkRG (888216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975266)

My first thought was "They were part of it?"

Re:They entered even more quietly. (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975272)

Not to mention that the Dell DJ Ditty sounds rather immature/stupid. Reminds me of P. Diddy. What the hell was he thinking?!?

Re:They entered even more quietly. (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975499)

I'd never even HEARD of the "DJ Ditty" until this morning's radio news mentioned that Dell had dropped it.

With PR like that - versus Apple's dancing silhouettes - it's no surprise it never sold.

Yeah, it's been said "teasers" and other marketting gimmicks that build mystery and suspense around your product are good PR tools. Apple kept the dancer's true identities a mystery, and I guess Dell just had too much of a good thing. A product so quietly promoted, your customers don't even know it exists!

I think it's a good move for Dell (1)

raitchison (734047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974611)

IMO their overdiversification is a major reason (but not the only one) for their recent decline, they definitely need to consolidate back to their core buisiness (PCs) and dump all the other crap (Printers, Networking gear, televisions, etc.)

Re:I think it's a good move for Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15975305)

There's no margin...

Who cares? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974612)

Really? I don't. Do you? Of course you don't. Neither do I - that's the whole point!

microsoft.. why else? (3, Interesting)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974618)

ell will still be a third-party reseller of other MP3 players like the Creative Zen, but has left the Windows-based player market to the four big players -- SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative. Of course they bailed on the market. Microsoft is about to enter it and drop a shitload of cash in an attempt to gain marketshare, just like they did with xbox. The most likely scenario is that they're going to initially cannibalize non-ipod sales.

Re:microsoft.. why else? (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974840)

Dell will still be a third-party reseller of other MP3 players like the Creative Zen, but has left the Windows-based player market to the four big players -- SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative."

"Windows-based player market"? What does that even mean? SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative together have 1/7th of the market, with 6/7ths being iPods. And most iPods are used with Windows. And how can Sony, with, what, a 2% market share, count as a "big player"?

Do you mean Microsoft "Plays For Sure"-based, perhaps?

Re:microsoft.. why else? (1)

bealzabobs_youruncle (971430) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974856)

With the popularity of iTunes I doubt they will grab much of the iPods marketshare, but I feel sorry for Creative, Sandisk.etc... The confusion and inconsistent interfaces/policies/available artist in the "Plays for Sure" camp won't help anyone but MS, who will rally behind one player/storefront and make them the focus of their promotional efforts (and featured in Media Player's front page, and linked off of MSN, etc...). But you are right, they will attempt to employ the same methods they did with the Xbox, but by comparison (technology wise, design wise) they have a lot of catching up to do this time.

not for me (4, Insightful)

cptgrudge (177113) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974626)

...but has left the Windows-based player market to the four big players -- SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative.

iriver for life

Unless the next model I want to buy sucks, of course.

Re:not for me (1)

humble.fool (961528) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974895)

That's some serious brand loyalty right there, folks.

Re:not for me (2, Informative)

eddy (18759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975083)

Both iriver and my personal current favourite iaudio [cowonamerica.com] produce very good players, it's just that the masses waggle along and buy shit like ''Sony'' (because of brand) or ''Noname'' (because of price)

Zero margin product (2, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974648)

Except for Apple, which uses it's excellent marketing to convince people that they need to wait in lines for hours to pay waaaay too much for their particular brand name, I can't believe that portable MP3 players are going to be cash cows for much longer. They're cheap, basic, simple electronic commodities at this point. Upload MP3's to them, press play, you have music. No big deal. Hell, Verisign just sent me a free one for downloading a 2 page white paper!

The excitement is already dying down.

Re:Zero margin product (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974794)

what? who waits in line for hours? except for christmas, of course.

Who's dumber? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15975201)

Who's dumber, the guy who "pays too much" for an iPod whose design, quality, and ease of use give him continuing satisfaction, or the "smart guy" who saves a few bucks on a 3rd party "iPod killer" and goes on to quickly tire of the device's boring and cheap design along with its inefficient and crude interface and controls and buggy synchronization software?

Re:Who's dumber? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15975387)

Can't judge between the two, but I'd say that neither is very smart, or that neither is really interested in music. Why else would they focus, whether positively or negatively, on the visual aesthetics or the technical qualities of their device of choice instead of actually using it to listen to music?

Re:Zero margin product (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975448)

I can't believe that portable MP3 players are going to be cash cows for much longer. They're cheap, basic, simple electronic commodities at this point. Upload MP3's to them, press play, you have music. No big deal.

Not exactly the type of comment I'd expect to see in relation to a story about Dell exiting the mp3 player market.

If your argument is that mp3 players are commodities at this point, you've been proven wrong by the very story you're writing about.

Whose website is nothing more than an error now (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974652)

Actually, they still make the player.

The website is down until they get some replacement batteries for the server.

Re:Whose website is nothing more than an error now (1)

benplaut (993145) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975132)

Well, now we know that dell.com is hosted on a Dell laptop. This explains the horrific speed and 'misplaced' pages...

Dell is cutting its losses, perhaps (4, Insightful)

Parallax Blue (836836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974687)

In the wake of their battery recall and complaints about bad tech support (no surprise there) they are likely cutting their losses and allocating the capital spent on this player to other areas such as better advertising, and (hopefully) better tech support. A smart move on their part as it's too late to make a significant impact on this market now IMHO.

As for going quietly/gently, that is probably the right way to do it as share holders are scrutinizing their Dell stock and wondering whether or not they should be selling it. News that Dell has dropped their MP3 player, while certainly not a tragedy, may indicate either a weakness or a willingness to cut loose products that just aren't taking off. In effect they're playing it safe.

Re:Dell is cutting its losses, perhaps (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974842)

Sony is going to be paying for the batteries, dell's financials took only a very small hit. I do admit I have a ditty, I won it in their christmas game with the lezbo delf chick ;)

Re:Dell is cutting its losses, perhaps (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975306)

Dell tech support... the best example I know of where stupid US based management fired a highly experienced and skilled team and replaced them with a bunch of cheaper morons from abroad. I'm all in favor of H1-Bs, and understand that some jobs are leaving, but not my skilled support!

I'm the CTO of a very small company, but this is the third company I've encouraged to standardize on Dell. I know Dell makes lots on it's warranties, since their machines rarely go bad (not many actually explode), but I can't buy them any more. Neither my company, nor any I can influence will buy Dell machines with extended warranties in the future. The support is just too useless. It's now simply better to throw the machine away, rather than make that first support call.

Haha (3, Insightful)

TimmyDee (713324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974691)

Farewell Dell! One market you can't take over by undercutting on price!

Don't let the door hit you on the ass!

P.S. I know I may be modded troll for this one, but its about time this happened. Maybe all of those "analysts" will stop spewing about "iPod-killers" whenever someone comes out with a cheaper mp3 player. They may be driven by price alone, but consumers aren't always (as we have seen here).

windows (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974692)

left the Windows-based player market to the four big players -- SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative."

iPod works with Windows as well.

What happened to Apple? (5, Insightful)

Blastrogath (579992) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974703)

"...left the Windows-based player market to the four big players -- SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative."

What happened to Apple? My iPod certainly works with Windows.

In the summary... (2, Informative)

Digz (90264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974865)

"...left the Windows-based player market to the four big players -- SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative."

Granted, it would be much clearer as Windows Media-based, but I believe that's what the summary was alluding to.

Neither Microsoft nor Apple have homefield ... (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975044)

Granted, it would be much clearer as Windows Media-based, but I believe that's what the summary was alluding to.

FWIW, the summary repeatedly referred to the MP3 market. That gives neither Microsoft (.WMA) nor Apple (.AAC) a homefield advantage.

Huh-what? (3, Insightful)

rjoseph (159458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974708)

"...has left the Windows-based player market to the four big players -- SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative."

So, let's do some math here. Apple currently has, according to the most recent reports [pcworld.com] , about a 75% market share in the portable music player market. If Apple has sold 50+ million iPods to date, that would give us a rough estimate of about 67 million portable music players sold, in total, from all companies who produce said products. 50M iPods, 17M "others."

Last quarter, Apple sold a little over 1M Mac computers, while it sold over 8M iPods. This is not a new trend, either: there are far less Mac owners than there are iPod owners in the world.

So, you're really trying to convince us that out of the 50M iPods that have been sold, there are more people who bought one of the 17M other players that use Windows than there are iPod users who use Windows?!

Did everyone already forget how a big a boon iTunes for Windows was for both Apple and iPod sales?

Re:Huh-what? (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974737)

I think what they meant was WMA/MS DRM (aka PlayForSure) based players. iPods can't play WMA or DRM'd WMA, such as those files you download from services like Napster and Yahoo Music Unlimited. The comment was poorly worded, I grant you.

Re:Huh-what? (1)

rjoseph (159458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974778)

Ah, very true, that thought hadn't even crossed my mind: kudos for catching the important distinction that I missed!

Re:Huh-what? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974960)

It might have been shorthand for Windows "Plays-For-Sure" player market.

Typical of Dell (1)

vandelais (164490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974718)

to treat an MP3 player as just a commodity.

They see their competition as the 4 other electronics makers, not Apple. That's too many competitors at the manufacturing level to have any real margin.
They will just wait for the inevitable shakeout to happen to the other manufacturers and start their own back up again to regain pricing power leverage after the carnage is over.

Apple gets it, however, by making a great product with superior design and clever marketing.

dude! (5, Funny)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974764)

dude! you're exiting the market!

Dell's never done niches well (2, Interesting)

jht (5006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974812)

When you look at Dell's strengths, it's always been in mainstream products (PCs, laptops, and servers), significant add-ons to them that get used as revenue boosters (printers, low-end network hardware), and to a lesser extent displays and now TVs. Other branded add-ons like the Axim PDAs and their various MP3 players have never really been a hit, because they're the type of consumer electronics that get bought in person - and Dell doesn't do that. It wouldn't shock me at some point to see Dell drop the PDA line, too.

They've had enough hiccups in recent months that the pressure to execute is probably building. Dell has never been about "cool", or innovation. They've always been a supply chain-oriented company who makes money by taking a proven technology, building it faster and cheaper than everyone else, and taking advantage of every inventory trick in the book to keep the balance sheet clean. That works great for computers, but virtually nobody would ever buy a MP3 player over the web from them based on that alone. And Dell can't do sexy like Apple can. No wonder Michael Dell always sounds so bitter when he talks about Apple. He's about as much of an Anti-Jobs as any tech CEO could possibly be.

in other news (1)

kahrytan (913147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974821)


Dell also decides to quit making pcs and concedes to Apple.

They're still available.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974872)

You can still snag one on Dell Outlet (which is, to my knowledge, only available to the US) for cheap. I'm just waiting for them to get even cheaper now that they're discontinued....

Shocked, shocked I say! (2, Insightful)

saboola (655522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974874)

..because I thought they left the mp3 market like two years ago

I've own the original Dell Jukebox... (1)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974915)

....and use (and recharge) it repeatitily every day. Apart from the crappola Musicmatch software included, my Dell Jukebox has been trouble free, and I've bee happy with it in every regard. So where do I go for my next mp3 player? (if, heaven forbid I ever do need a replacement) Bloodly dell, can't even keep doing someting it was good at.

Re:I've own the original Dell Jukebox... (1)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974926)

Bloody careless grammer me....breath deeply before post button hiting next time idiot.

Re:I've own the original Dell Jukebox... (1)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974945)

...that should be "you idiot".

Re:I've own the original Dell Jukebox... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974963)

Not to mention "grammer", "breath" and "hiting" should be "grammar", "breathe" and "hitting."

Seriously, I think you got more words wrong in the post to correct your original post. That's gotta be some sort of record.

Re:I've own the original Dell Jukebox... (1)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974978)

You forgot my title line, but I appreciate the help always.

Not completely accurate (4, Funny)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974941)

instead preferring to stick with PCs, printers, and not killing people in fiery laptop-related explosions.

I'm a Dell representative, and I'd like to say that this statement is not entirely true. We're also in the business of selling monitors, and we'll continue to kill people in fiery laptop-related explosions.

Uhm.. Apple has a Windows-based player... the iPod (3, Informative)

neuroklinik (452842) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974948)

Dell will still be a third-party reseller of other MP3 players like the Creative Zen, but has left the Windows-based player market to the four big players -- SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative."


I'd say that Apple should be in that list of players who make a Windows-based portable audio device. The iPod works on Windows too.

What is an mp3 player? (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975008)

It's not a device. The device is actually pretty simple to make. You can get 31 different new units 4GB or larger from Tigerdirect. No that's the easy part. It's marketing and focus and channel and relationships and service. Do you remember when the first iPods had that battery 'problem' where Apple initially said stuff it go buy another one? They changed their tune pretty damn quick because they wanted loyalty and marketshare. Can you imagine any other mp3 vendor doing that? I can't. Dell left the mp3 space because they never had much commitment to it in the first place. They thought they could make cheap impulse items they didn't have to service or support or worry about. But in fact it's a market in its own right.

I might of missed something, but..... (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975018)

..... Dell had an MP3 player? I couldn't tell based on all of the iPods that I see on the subway on a daily basis.

Yeah, but it's not their only product. (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975047)

A dell axim with 1/4GB + another 8 GB of storage cards ($400 total, all new) gives you a great mp3 player, wifi Internet, tons of games, Direct3D Mobile and hardware accelerated 3D, bluetooth, a VGA resolution screen, and tons more features.

Who needs another tiny dedcated MP3 player when I can get a nice little 600 MHz computer? My expensive laptop from 1999 didn't even have that good of specifications.

Re:Yeah, but it's not their only product. (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975278)

Can your Axim play music for 16 hours straight? How about 4 hours of video? Does it have 60 gigs of storage to hold enough music and video to be able to go weeks without listening to the same thing twice?

If so, I'll consider replacing my black 60 gig iPod video.

It compares well, yes. (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975463)

>> Can your Axim play music for 16 hours straight?

Yes. I did opt for the bigger battery though, and I've heard that the lower batter can only operate as an mp3 player (the screen backlight off) for around 7 hours.

>> How about 4 hours of video?

No, I only get about 3 1/2 hours on one battery charge. It is long enough to watch two of the many feature-length DVDs I have transcoded and stored on a memory card. They look great, I just don't like that they take over 100MB per hour of footage. I have a CF card filled with all the movies I am interested in re-watching any time soon.

>> Does it have 60 gigs of storage to hold enough music and video to be able to go weeks without listening to the same thing twice?

It has SD and CF card slots. Currently it only has 8 1/2 GB in the device, but I have additional cards I swap when I want to change them.

Besides, I don't feel the need to carry around 60 gigs of music -- I have found that 7GB is more than enough for the music I own.

Windows based? (2, Insightful)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975081)

left the Windows-based player market to the four big players -- SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, and Creative."

Strangely iTunes and iPods also work just fine on Windows. Was he attempted to say Windows-centric? Mac-ignoring perhaps? Or did he mean based on PlaysForSure? Microsoft Sponsored? Windows-only? Obviously they aren't all running Win CE.

In other news: man bites dog! (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975130)

Looks like another case of an "iPod Killer" being killed by the iPod. I'm expecting Creative to follow in the next 6-12 months given they're going to start making iPod accessories. Seriously, you know a company has lost faith in their player when they start adding value to their competitor's products.

Hmmm. (1)

Overfiend1976 (979710) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975157)

Perhaps they're a bit underfunded after having to replace 4 million+ laptop batteries?

Good for Dell (1)

Sohil (981376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975198)

They succeeded because they were lean, if want to emulate or continue that success they better continue being lean.

Fiery Explosions? (2, Interesting)

twifosp (532320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975246)

and not killing people in fiery laptop-related explosions.

Wow, great piece of editorial comment there! I'm not one to defend cooperate giants here, but Sony is to blame for the shoddy electronics not Dell. Dell at least was the first to issue a recall for the battery issue. Apple uses the same batteries that cause fires and they are just NOW coming out with the a recall. They've known about it for a long time now. HP has about 3 million of the batteries in circulation and who knows how many Sony laptops contain the dodgey batteries. Neither of those companies have even issued a warning about the batteries, nor has Sony owned up to the issue and prefers to let the distributors of their energy storing grenades take the fall.

If you want to flame a company, flame Sony. How exactly does Dell come out looking like the bad guy here? And on an article about MP3 players no less.

Slashdot is getting as bad as Fox news. Congratulations editors.

Of course, as the system integrator (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975418)

They wouldn't have any responsibility for testing the oem parts they assemble into a final system, getting it certified, or anything like that.

Didn't think of that, i'm sure. But don't worry, the product liability litigators have.

There's lots of blame to go around here, but the name on the bezel is the one that will pay the lion's share of the settlement ultimately.
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