“So far, Apple’s iPod is by far the best seller among high-capacity players. You can’t stand in a public place without seeing a pair of those telltale white earbud cords pass by; for once in its life, Apple gets to find out what it’s like to be Microsoft. The iPod’s success has spawned an entire industry of iPod cases, iPod accessories, iPod software – and now, inevitably, iPod imitators,” David Pogue writes for The New York Times.
“The rivals come from electronics makers (Samsung) and from fellow computer makers (Dell, Gateway), as well as from veteran music-player makers (Rio, Creative Labs, iRiver). Most have the familiar iPod ingredients: a screen, a tiny hard drive and a rechargeable battery, all packed into a rectangular case and accompanied by earbuds. Most come with jukebox software that loads your collection of music files – which you’ve either downloaded or ‘ripped’ from music CD’s – onto the player over a U.S.B. 2.0 cable,” Pogue writes.
“The other notable feature of these competitors is a marketing message that’s either ‘just like the iPod, only cheaper’ or ‘just like the iPod, only better,'” Pogue writes. “…if you want to shop at one of those $1-a-song music Web sites, buying an iPod pretty much limits you to Apple’s iTunes music store. (The Apple store’s AAC files play only on the iPod. The other stores, like Napster and Musicmatch, deliver WMA files that work on any player except the iPod.) Of course, that’s like being ‘forced’ to drive a Lexus or ‘limited’ to staying at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, but you get the point.”
Pogues writes that the Dell Digital Junkbox (Dell DJ) “feels half-baked, especially in comparison with the highly polished iPod.” Pogues then covers the gamut of iPod-wannabe players from Gateway, iRiver, and the rest and concludes, “none of the companies who lust for some of Apple’s pie can deliver the elegance and convenience of Apple’s music trinity: iPod, the iTunes software and the iTunes music store.”
Full article here.