Apple’s iPod will dominate the holiday shopping frenzy for MP3 players

“US holiday sales forecasts have been decidedly muted this year, but it appeared no one bothered telling the throngs of shoppers crammed into Apple Computer’s downtown San Francisco store last week,” Scott Morrison writes for The Financial Times. “Some shoppers gawked at Apple’s line of stylish computers, but there was little doubt most were drawn by the hottest product this holiday season the iPod digital music player… Apple, which launched the MP3 fad with the release of the first iPod in late 2001. That fad is now turning into a frenzy fuelled by hot new models and a cool marketing campaign.”

“Some analysts forecast that consumers will snap up as many as 4m iPods this holiday season. That would be a staggering haul considering that it took Apple about three years to sell its first 5.7 million iPods,” Morrison writes. “The iPod plays songs encoded in the AAC format, which is available through Apple’s iTunes. Most rivals have adopted WMA technology, which Microsoft is pushing to become the standard of the future. Almost all devices available are compatible with the older, more popular MP3 format.”

Morrison writes, “Microsoft has started to promote Apple’s rivals with a ‘Plays for Sure’ campaign aimed at reassuring consumers confused about which players play which music formats offered by various internet music stores. However, the campaign which was launched only a few months ago is seen as too little too late to make an impact this holiday season. Other rivals such as Rio, Creative and Dell will probably start chipping away at Apple’s lead this holiday season, but there is little doubt that iPod will dominate the holiday shopping frenzy.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is simply excellent, correct, factual, quality reporting by Mr. Morrison. Explaining AAC, WMA, and MP3 succinctly and properly wins well-deserved kudos. We wish more journalists would take the time to be this accurate and write this clearly and accurately.

12 Comments

  1. Well, this is all pretty much a given now. I am waiting for January and the next Insanely Great Thing. It will be very interesting to see how much of the halo effect comes into play the coming years though.

  2. See this link for an even better article by John Mello about how surely “plays for sure” doesn’t play, http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2004/12/06/player_cant_hit_the_high_notes.

    Here are a couple of quotes:
    “While some folks have rapped Apple for keeping its iTunes-iPod ecosystem hermetically sealed from third-party song sellers and hardware hawkers, there’s an indisputable advantage to the strategy: It works. If you install iTunes on your computer — whether it’s running Apple’s operating system or Microsoft’s — and you buy music from the iTunes store, it’s going to play on the iPod. That kind of smooth operation doesn’t always happen outside Appleland. Case in point: my bout with the Rio Carbon, a player in the iPod Mini mode. “

    And he ends with this:
    “Of course there are ”work arounds” for these problems. Don’t buy online music, for instance. Download files through a peer-to-peer network and live in dread that a process server will show up at your door. Or burn the purchased tracks to a CD and rip them to your hard drive in a file format friendlier to Carbon. Or, you can forget Microsoft and buy an iPod.”

    Very well said.

  3. Analyst have been saying for years the others will start chipping away at Apples dominance and I’m still waiting. If you keep saying the sky is falling sooner or later the sky will fall and you can claim credit for it.
    On the other hand, mp3 was a craze before the iPod. In fact Apple was criticized for being late on mp3. My wife gave me a Sony mp3 player a year or so before the iPod. It was soooooo poorly designed I returned it. Sony really did have NO clue on that one and still don’t. Apple did start the portable jukebox and legal download craze.
    Nice article though.

  4. Oh the MP3 thing is a fad now..? LMFAO

    Sorry, I was just browsing my 30,000 song library.. I’ll delete it in a few months when this fad passes.. pffft.

    Jeez.. What was Metallica so scared of.. it was just a fad all along..

  5. Re: the MDN take

    I think that as zealots ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”tongue wink” style=”border:0;” /> you should be a little more stern in this analysis.

    First, although they get the basic file compatibilities right, they don’t really mention that WMA as provided by Microsoft and AAC as provided by Apple are both DRMed. Further they are not clear that WMA plays for sure (maybe, see Kmark’s link above) on PCs only. Macs need not apply. AAC, on the other hand, ‘just works’ on PCs and Macs.

    Second, how the devil do they know that “other rivals … will start chipping away at Apple’s lead …”. My crystal ball seem to be a bit clouded over on that one. However, my guess, and, unlike these “journalists”, I qualify it as one; my guess is that Apple will chip away at the sales of others this holiday season, increasing its market dominance in the sector.

    So come on, MDN. You’ve got a reputation to live up to!

    Mike

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