USA Today: Apple’s iPod nano ‘a beautiful piece of hardware’ – but ‘the competition has caught up’

Apple’s iPod nano “is a beautiful piece of hardware — and a beautiful piece of hardware that also function[s] really well,” Andrew Kantor reports for USA Today. “The iPod’s quality is about form, not just features. For starters, it is better looking than its competition. I wouldn’t call it ‘art,’ but it is certainly something you could spend time admiring as you use it. The competition has caught up, and there are some just-as-slick players out there. But they came after the iPod had become synonymous with good looks, and they now have a steep hill to climb to catch up to Apple.”

“Get a Creative Labs MuVo or Zen, or a Sony Network Walkman and you can do the same things — download, play, pause, shuffle, etc. Some even include FM tuners and voice recorders,” Kantor writes. “And yet Apple has that huge market share. Some of it may be due to good marketing, but much of it is due to the quality of the iPod… The iPod has Play and Pause buttons; so does every player. But — at least until recently — the iPod’s controls felt better that [sic] the competition’s. There was a quality behind them that other players lacked… If I had an iPod nano, I would probably stop now and then to admire it.”

Full article here.

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“At least until recently — the iPod’s controls felt better than the competition’s? Okay, so which competitor’s controls feel/work as well as Apple’s iPod? Kantor doesn’t say. “The competition has caught up?” With whom, each other in bankruptcy court? Certainly, they haven’t caught up with Apple. Kantor fails to note how iPods connect seamlessly with Apple’s iTunes music jukebox and iTunes Music Store. It’s the seamless iPod+iTunes+iTunes Music Store triumvirate that puts Apple head and shoulders above the also-rans, not just the player’s hardware; it’s the combination of all three that makes Apple’s system so much better.

This is the same Andrew Kantor who wrote for USA Today last December 3rd, “I just don’t get the overwhelming appeal of the iPod, Apple’s MP3 player. It’s a beautiful device to be sure, but it does exactly what many, many other similar players do: It plays MP3s. Other brands are better, less expensive, have more capacity, are easier to use, and so on. But the iPod has something more than 85% market share. That’s incredible — that’s like finding that 85% of people in the country drive Toyota Camrys. It just doesn’t make sense… I didn’t go for an iPod when I bought an MP3 player. I wanted something smaller, so I got one that uses flash memory instead of a hard drive — a Creative MuVo TX.”

More than nine months later, Kantor still doesn’t get it. Here’s an original idea: Kantor should download iTunes, get an iPod, actually use them, and then write about his experiences.

You can contact Mr. Kantor here: andrew@kantor.com
(He loves email from Mac users, as you can see from the following examples, but he tends to cherrypick the flames, so level-headed expressions pointing out issues would be best, unless you want to be published on kantor.com: example 1, example 2, and example 3)

[UPDATE: 5:43pm ET: USA Today columnist calls Mac users and Apple fans a ‘cult of blind little lemmings’]

Related articles:
Music lovers make Apple’s iTunes Music Store AAC format the de facto standard for online music – August 28, 2005
Apple’s ‘pure genius’ will soon make iTunes’ portal the ‘number one destination on the Internet’ – July 26, 2005
Apple’s understanding of what really counts makes iPod+iTunes impossible to beat – June 22, 2005
BofA: Apple’s iTunes Music Store and iPods have symbiotic ‘stickiness, protective effect’ – May 12, 2005
USA Today columnist blasts Mac users and MacDailyNews in blog – December 06, 2004
USA Today writer unhappy with MacDailyNews and some Mac users’ emails – October 18, 2004
USA Today writer attempts to downplay Apple’s role in Virginia Tech supercomputer – September 03, 2004

48 Comments

  1. How can you say “But — at least until recently — the iPod’s controls felt better that the competition’s.” without providing an example?

    I can say “Windows has no security issues, and OS X does”. I can make a lot of statements. Your a report Mr. Kantor, you are supposed to report facts, or if they are opinions (I can’t tell in your CyberSpeak column. What USA Today section is it in, the CRAP section?) support them with FACTS. If you think the iPod controls felt better until recently, then F***ing tell us what rivals it.

    No wonder why I don’t subscribe to your crappy paper.

  2. what do you expect from USA Today? Cliff’s Notes of the news media…

    what a quack.

    MW – dead. seriously. i could come up with a million zingers on this one. but i leave you all up to the imagination! have fun!

  3. Viable iPod competition?

    Let’s have a classroom of 10 year olds, with each child on one of a variety of computers and MP3 players. With their on-line music store accounts pre-established, let’s see how fast the children are able to go on line, download a certain song, load it into their MP3 player, and then listen to it.

    It is NOT just the player, but the whole user experience. There is no doubt that a better player could be designed and manufactured, but if it is too difficult to sync and organize your songs, it doesn’t matter how smooth the volume control is.

  4. Kantor is a well known troll and baits readers to get hits and will never ever admit when he has made a mistake no matter how obvious it is that he was wrong.

    So this newest load of garbage, this exceedingly grudging and faint praise, does not surprise me at all. It is what Kantor is all about.

  5. That’s incredible — that’s like finding that 85% of people in the country drive Toyota Camrys. It just doesn’t make sense.

    That would make perfect sense to me…a Toyota is a solid, reliable vehicle that will give you very few problems over many years…just like a Mac. I ‘switched’ to a Toyota a couple years ago from a Ford, just like I ‘switched’ to a Mac from a PC.

  6. [But the iPod has something more than 85% market share. That’s incredible — that’s like finding that 85% of people in the country drive Toyota Camrys. It just doesn’t make sense… ]

    But it makes total sense that Windows has 88.4%?

  7. On a side note, I helped a windows user install iTunes today and was amazed at how long it took. The dozer said it was par for the course on her machine but it was painful for me to watch.

    I then explained briefly how to use it and showed how the help menu on Apple products really, actually and truly helps as opposed to the confusing mumbo jumbo windows help menus provide. She seemed really psyched and said she was going to install it on her machine at home and start using it.

    Man, this iPod/iTunes trojan pony was a brilliant move on Apple’s part. Give them a taste of quality and lot of them will want more. And the only place to get that is on a Mac.

  8. I don’t think the competition caught on to anything!!!! Not the quality, features, PRICING AND DESIGN!! Kantor is a moron and you can not trust any “journalist” nor “analysts” now a day!!!

  9. This “writer” doesn’t even present a consistent train of thought. Is quality not found in function? Is the iPod on top because if its quality or not? What are you saying, Kantor?

    And this: “So Apple released the new iPod — the iPod nano — at the same time it introduced the Motorola ROKR phone, which has a built-in iPod.” There is no iPod in the ROKR phone. There is iTunes capabilities.

    This guy is neither a journalist, nor is he very aware as a consumer.

  10. I love my iPod Nano, the thousand songs gives just the right amount of variety and the slim design fits in my shirt pocket without bulging out.

    It’s truly such a technological leap, we shouldn’t have seen anything like this for at least another 5 or 10 years.

    It’s almost tempting to eat, I was hungry today and though it was a cracker.

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