Creative pushes to become ‘Pepsi’ to Apple’s ‘Coke’ in digital music player market

“The online music industry — now working under a pay-per-song model — has blossomed. That has set up Creative for perhaps its biggest showdown. The 23-year-old company is stepping up its foray into digital music players as competition in the market heats up with the success of Apple’s iPod player… with Apple recently stealing the spotlight in portable music players, Creative hopes to take back its place as an innovator and leader,” Sam Diaz reports for The Mercury News.

[MacDailyNews Take: Good luck with that hope there, Creative. If you’ve tried to use a Creative player after using an iPod, you know it’s like forsaking your Kershaw Shun Pro knife and instead trying to slice a tomato with a Southern Pine 2×4.]

“The company will be one of the first to add video to its audio players when it introduces the Zen Personal Media Center later this year. Last month, it countered Apple’s next-generation iPod — a $300, 20-gigabyte unit with a 12-hour battery life — with the Zen Touch, a $269, 20-gigabyte unit with a 24-hour battery life,” Diaz reports.

[MacDailyNews Take: What good is a player with counterintuitive controls that doesn’t work with the world’s best online music store, even if it is a whopping $30 cheaper?]

“Still, taking on the iPod amid rising competition will be tough,” Diaz writes. “‘You can basically look at Apple as the Coca-Cola of that market with everyone else trying to be Pepsi,’ said Hamed Khorsand, senior research analyst at BWS Financial in Los Angeles.”

[MacDailyNews Take: Emphasis on the word “trying” above. Everyone else is trying to be Pepsi, but no company has succeeded, yet. For the record, Coke’s 2003 worldwide market share stood at 44%, with Pepsi at 31.8% (source). In contrast, Apple holds a market-dominating position with both their iTunes Music Store, the number one online music service in the world with over 70% market share of legal downloads, and their iPod line which holds over 50% of the market for digital music players. So, the Coke/Pepsi comparison is fairly inappropriate.]

“The iPod’s success has helped give Apple a commanding lead among hard-disk music player companies, with Creative holding the No. 2 spot in market share. [President of Creative Labs, Craig McHugh] said he isn’t pushing a ‘Beat Apple’ campaign. Creative believes that it has a better product line, a better price-for-storage value, and the ability to play several music formats and work with several online music stores, unlike the iPod,” Diaz reports. “‘We believe we have to have the best performance,’ McHugh said. ‘We believe we have to offer an incredible price-value. If the consumers make wise choices, we’re going to do exceptionally well.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wouldn’t the wisest choice be to go with the world’s best digital music players, Apple’s iPod and iPod mini, and use it in conjunction with the world’s best legal online music service, Apple’s iTunes Music Store?


  1. “Competition drives innovation” Are you dreaming??

    You’re listening to the Marketing department rather than the business department my friend.

    All competition does is lower the standards of quality, corporate responsibility and innovation in a segment where the consumer is unaware of the variables that make a product a truly innovative and quality product. When the consumer cannot see differences, price becomes the battleground and EVERYONE knows how that plays out. (Hey Apple, I can get a $500 eMachine PC, so why would I buy your eMac for $700!?)

    Innovation ONLY happens when you’re struggling to make it to market first so you can set the parameters on which your product is judged. Hell, Apple in the late 80’s ruled because they were so innovative. When the cheap PC’s came out, they weren’t “innovative”, they were cheap, and the consumer didn’t know why they should by one over the other anymore because in their mind, a computer was a computer right? The concept of a computer became over simplified and price became the battleground.

    I could go on forever about innovation being driven by competition. All I can say is you’ve been brainwashed by the marketing types who want you to be a clueless consumer of goods. (Which by being a mac user, I assume, you should know that what you see is not always what you get)


  2. Okay, so Apple is the Coke of the digital audio player market. I guess that makes them the Sierra Mist of the desktop market.

    Funny how with the iPod, market share is suddenly everything. When the G3’s came out, suddenly speed was everything. And when the iMac came out, suddenly fruity colors were everything.

  3. re: Opus

    Competition isn’t always based on price. It is also based on features. Given two products at the same price, do you pick with eeny-meany-miny-moe, or do you see which product has the better–or more innovative–features? I hope the latter.

    If every Apple competitor stopped trying to sell music players tomorrow, do you think Apple would keep trying just as hard to innovate and lower prices? Why? So they can make less profit in a market they own?

  4. Sometimes though I still feel like people take things a bit too far. Just because a company is realeasing something they consider an “iPod killer’ and it includes video does not mean that video is a bad thing to include in a portable device.

    Personally, I would absolutely love the ability to watch a DVD in a handheld device the size of an iPod but with a larger screen! Yea, the screen would be tiny in comparison to a laptop like a Powerbook, but I only have a Powerbook 17, and we all know those don’t fit well on plane tray tables. And as much as I love Apple, I can’t afford to buy a 12″ only to use on a plane…

    So portable video would be a very very neat idea.

    As for the “Apple is the best!”, just because it is easy to use doesn’t make it perfect. The battery life is still comparably short to the competition, you can’t listen to AM/FM radio, etc. Apple is good at designing programs that stick to their primary function without bloating it with extra features, but wouldn’t a cool iPod be one that had all these extra features? The could have the 20GB, the 40 GB, maybe eventually the 60GB, and then a “plus” version that includes radio capability, maybe a built-in AM/FM transmitter or connection to 802.11b/g so you can AirTunes straight from the iPod, or actually a respectable battery time…

    I hope I don’t come across as all hate. I love my iPod and do personally think it is better than most other options. I just don’t think it’s right to laugh at the competition when I think they are often pretty damn good alternatives just because they’re not iPods.

  5. RE: Russell “…and we all know those don’t fit well on plane tray tables.”

    Hmm, an 12-inch iBook could fit the ticket… Great to watch a movie and edit some home tapes too!

    There are many poratble DVD players out there, why do we need a HD based one? Oh, ’cause we can… well with DRM noise from the movie industry do you really think they’ll let us rip a copy of “the Matrix” without compromise? The music industry is anal enough without us knockin’ on Hollywood’s (back)door. All IMHO, of course.


  6. Just took a plane trip where I watched DVD’s on my 12-inch iBook. I had plenty of battery life, but the time allowed to use electronic devices wasn’t long enough to watch the whole movie. Fun though.

  7. you don’t have to buy a 12″ Powerbook, you could get a pre-owned PB G3 with a DVD for around 500 bucks (compared to a $200 device with a 8×6 screen) or an ibook for less than 1K

  8. what the hell are mac and ipod user taking. I want Apple to continue to DOMINATE this market! Just like Sony did with the walkman. Do you know how many walkmen Sony sold? over 150,000,000!!! That’s how many iPods Apple should sell.

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