“Enter practically any electronics store and you’re likely to find a digital music player from Apple. It’s called the iPod and it weighs only a few ounces, but to its competitors it’s the 800-pound white gorilla,” Michel Marriott writes for The New York Times. “It is hardly a secret that Apple’s smart, sleek music players rule the market. Industry analysts estimate that more than 9 of every 10 high-capacity players sold in the United States are iPods.”
“‘It’s hard to imagine it doing much better than it is doing now,’ said Stephen Baker, director of industry analysis for the NPD Group, a research firm,” Marriott writes. ‘We live and breathe competition and talk about iPod every day,’ said David Feldman, vice president for marketing in North America for Archos, a pioneer in developing digital music players. ‘To come up against the 800-pound gorilla, we have to provide differences in our product mix. We have to have capabilities beyond the iPod.'”
Marriott writes, “Mr. Baker of the NPD Group said he believes that for the foreseeable future the portable digital music player market will belong to Apple. Trying to compete with iPod on slight reductions in price will not sway most buyers, he said, and even offering features that iPod does not have is no guarantee, because Apple could add the features to its player. Mr. Baker said microdrive players, like the iPod Mini and Zen Micro, are where the real mass-market music players are emerging. ‘Most people don’t need more than five gigabytes of music to carry around with them,’ he said. ‘It has to be small enough to exercise with, unobtrusive, and pretty easy to use. That is where the battle is going to be.'”
Marriott writes, “An Apple spokeswoman declined to discuss the competition or comment on the company’s plans,” Marriott writes. “‘It’s in Rio’s genes to continue to push design,’ Dan Torres, Rio’s vice president for product marketing said. ‘All of these things don’t have to be boxes or look like bars of soap.’ Consumers will be drawn to designs and features that have their own appeal, he added, looks and functions that do not simply mimic the iPod’s. ‘Our hats are off to Apple and iPod,’ said Ms. O’Malley of Creative. ‘IPod has done a great job of increasing the viability of the category as a whole, raising awareness for all digital music and digital music players.’ But as hats come off, so do the gloves.”
Full article here.