“Microsoft Corp. said Apple Computer Inc.’s best-selling iPod music player will face increased competition from new products in the end-of-year shopping season,” Ian King and Dina Bass report for Bloomberg News. “Microsoft is working with electronics makers including Royal Philips Electronics NV, Samsung Electronics Co. and Creative Technology Ltd. to design and test music players that rival iPod, said Erik Huggers, the head of Microsoft’s Digital Media Division.”
“‘Come this fall there is going to be a number of devices that get close to competing with Apple’s iPod,’ Huggers said in an interview in San Francisco yesterday,'” King and Bass report. “By the second quarter of next year ‘there is going to be a whole lineup of products that can compete with Apple in industrial design, usability, functionality and features.'”
“‘It’s going to take a lot to dethrone Apple,’ said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research in New York. ‘Apple won’t sit on its laurels and I expect we’ll see another iteration of the iPod for the holiday. Unless Microsoft is really willing to spend the time and effort to get behind a player or a select group of players, it’s not going to happen,'” King and Bass report.
King and Bass report, “Microsoft is helping electronics makers ‘build world-class devices, that really work well, with great industrial design, with lots of content available, with great software on the PC to make it all work together,’ Huggers said. While Apple’s iPod and iTunes music store work together easily, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has faced difficulty showing customers which of the many Windows-based players and music stores are compatible. A campaign called ‘PlaysForSure’ to put a logo on devices that would show consumers what works together, hasn’t helped because not all devices with the logo actually work with the promised services. ‘We tend to call it ‘PlaysForAlmostSure’,’ Gartenberg said. ‘Meanwhile Apple’s iPod and iTunes are dancing together like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.'”
Full article here.
We seem to recall that Microsoft said about the same thing last year. Last September, BusinessWeek reported that Microsoft was launching its most comprehensive foray yet into the digital media world. Portable video players, which run on Microsoft software and were made by Samsung Group and others, were supposed to be just a piece of the tech giant’s plan to steal Apple’s rock ‘n’ roll mojo.
BusinessWeek wrote at the time, “”The Colossus of Redmond is rolling out an update of its Windows Media Player audio and video software that’s designed to make it just as easy to purchase and manage music with Microsoft-powered gear as it is with Apple’s iPod and iTunes combo. ‘There’s nothing that the iPod does that I say: ‘Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that,” Gates says. The new Windows Media software has mimicked iTunes, letting users buy in one click songs from MSN Music and a handful of other music retailers and have the tunes automatically added to music libraries.”
Oh, wow, we didn’t think you could do that, Bill. And we were right. See you around the same time next year.
Microsoft’s plan to steal Apple’s rock ‘n’ roll mojo faces rocky road – September 01, 2004
Study: 32 million U.S. adults plan to buy iPod in next 12 months – July 20, 2005
Needham & Co: Apple ‘iPod Halo Effect’ fueling Mac purchases; predict 43 million iPod sales in 2006 – July 18, 2005
Apple smashes street with record revenue, earnings; shipped 6.155 million iPods – July 13, 2005