Samsung’s iPod nano killer software created by former Apple Mac, iPod designer

“When Samsung, the consumer electronics giant, decided to mount a serious challenge to Apple Computer’s iPod music player early last year, it turned to a little-known Silicon Valley software start-up with a cluttered one-room office tucked away here in a building above a mortgage title company,” John Markoff reports for The New York Times. “The result of that partnership is Samsung’s newest Z5 portable MP3 player, which will appear on store shelves March 5. The software inside the player was forged at Iventor Inc. by a small team of programmers led by Paul Mercer, 38, a veteran Apple Macintosh software designer.”

“Samsung’s decision to hire Mr. Mercer is significant because Apple, in designing the original iPod four years ago, turned to Pixo Inc., the company Mr. Mercer founded after he left Apple in 1994 to create software for hand-held devices,” Markoff reports. “Apple used Pixo software to create the music player’s simple interface, and Pixo’s name appeared in the credits of the original iPod MP3 player.”

“Samsung is betting that it can win a share of the music market dominated by Apple by using new software that mimics what is found in powerful PC’s,” Markoff reports. “The Z5, shaped like a stick of gum, has a 1.8-inch color screen and a 35-hour battery life, and is priced at $199 to $249 to compete with the iPod Nano, which costs $149 to $249. Early reviews have been positive, and Samsung is hoping that the Z5 will work smoothly with the range of subscription music services that support the Microsoft PlaysForSure digital music standard.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hoping? Sheesh. The definition of the word “failure” in the digital media player market: “Hoping that [insert name of digital player] will work smoothly with the range of subscription music services that support the Microsoft PlaysForSure digital music standard.” Samsung’s not going after Apple; at best they’re going after SanDisk.

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28 Comments

  1. When will these companies learn? As soon as the iPod is mentioned as being a market they’re looking to take a slice of they’re doomed. They should dominate what’s left of the market and build from there. No one is gonna complain if there are two viable portable music solutions available. Of course however good their machines are they’re still let down by the rest of the package – the MS software for “buying” music.

  2. it’s interesting to see samsung trying to compete with the ipod, especially since they sell apple so much flash memory.

    but i suppose they are in a win-win situation.

    even if samsung does manage to top the ipod, which it could only do in korea, it’s not like samsung loses money by not selling apple the flash memory, it’s in their devices and they’re probably making a better margin.

    At least in terms of business, they seem to be in a win-win.

    the design looks ok from the outside. i like the brushed metal look, but the ipod scroll wheel is unbeatable. my nano is cooler. i like the white better anyway.

    and why do they rave about the transparency in the software? do i really need those cool effects to listen to music? doesn’t make any difference to me.

  3. “The Z5, shaped like a stick of gum…”

    What kind of gum are they chewing?!? Look more like on of Samsung’s older cell phones, which was in a word…fugly.

    Fugly, $50 more expensive and doesn’t work with iTunes Music Store. Good luck to them.

    I think the only way anyone has a hope of mounting a serious challenge to iPod/iTunes/iTMS would be to do the following:

    • Build a decent player on par with the iPod line
    • Open an online music store that sells DRM-free mp3s or DRM’d mp3s using the mp3 DRM standard (has to be MS WMA free)
    • write good software that integrates the online store and media player device with iTunes so people can use iTunes to manage their music, but a small helper app would allow you to sync your music onto your media player device. That same helper app would automatically move any music purchased from the online store to iTunes and allow iTunes to play the DRM’d mp3 files (if DRM is a necessary evil).
    • market the hell out of it, and sell up the fact that the online store is using the industry standard mp3 format instead of ‘closed’ proprietary formats.
    • make sure it’s Mac, Windows and Linux compatible.
    • allow 3rd party media playing devices to link up with your helper app.

    I’d rather see that scenario beat Apple than Microsoft manage to take over yet another market, but the way Apple is going, I don’t think we have to worry about that.

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