SanDisk marketing exec: ‘Australians are blindly paying for iPods’

“SanDisk is the second largest manufacturer of MP3 players in the US, and Eric Bone, SanDisk’s director of consumer products marketing, said this is because customers get similar performance from their products for a lower price,” Manisha Kanetkar and Ty Pendlebury report for Smarthouse in an article headlined, “Sandisk Will Eat Into Apple.”

“SanDisk is the second largest manufacturer of MP3 players in the US, and Eric Bone, SanDisk’s director of consumer products marketing, said this is because customers get similar performance from their products for a lower price,” Kanetkar and Pendlebury report. “Sandisk’s feature set is also greater than the iPod’s, and includes voice recording, FM tuner and the ability to support a greater number of music subscription services, and it’s aimed at an aggressive price point of at least $20 USD under the equivalent Apple product.”

[Bone] also said that on a recent secret shopping trip to Harvey Norman staff had admitted to a high return rate on iPods: ‘Australians are blindly paying for iPods, but my experience showed that a lot are being returned due to a problem with formats on pre-recorded libraries and, in particular, problems with WMA [Windows Media Audio].'”

Full article here.
SanDisk’s rhetoric is ratcheting up, it seems. Too bad. In the past, they seemed more rational about their distant #2 status to Apple’s iPod (Apple has sold more than 50 million iPods. SanDisk has sold only about 1 million Sansas.) Why does SanDisk consider being tied to Microsoft’s failed WMA-based Windows-only also-ran online music outfits a selling point? It hasn’t worked for anyone else. Apple’s iTunes Music Store covers both Mac and Windows users – the vast majority of the market – and offers the largest legal library of music and videos. SanDisk should stop with the FUD and try maintaining and growing their distant #2 position to Apple in more constructive ways.

The bit about the included FM tuner”is so-tired-it’s-dead. Consumers do not care. Just look at the numbers. It’s a feature without a market. If you really want FM radio on your iPod, get Apple’s iPod FM Radio Remote.

SanDisk players are incompatible with, and will not (directly) play music, videos, or TV shows purchased from Apple’s iTunes Music Store. iTunes Music Store holds approximately 80% of the legal digital online music market and is now the #7 music retailer in the U.S. (Q3 05), up from #14 (Q3 04), ahead of Tower Records, Sam Goody, and Borders, according to NPD. (November 21, 2005)

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Related articles:
SanDisk CEO: Apple has ‘a closed, proprietary system’ – March 13, 2006
SanDisk exec on competing with iPod: ‘Apple has always been happy with 2-3 percent of the market’ – February 28, 2006
SanDisk quietly becomes distant No. 2 to Apple in U.S. digital music player sales – February 09, 2006
Apple’s vs. Microsoft’s music DRM: whose solution supports more users? – August 17, 2005


  1. Question. So it features voice recording, but does it have a built in mic? If not, is that really a “feature” you can advertise? I mean, you’d need to buy a microphone for it otherwise.

    $20 price difference isn’t going to get people to buy it.

  2. So tired of hearing about the “we have more features” thing. Just because you add more and more things (which makes it more and more complicated) doesn’t mean it’s better.

    I remember buying an iPod because the radio totally sucks, so I just shake my head everytime I hear about an FM tuner being a selling point.

  3. Hrm, this anecdotal mention of iPod returns seems to fly in the face of iTunes’ meteoric usage growth, and the fact that most people’s digital music is in MP3 format, not WMA. In any event, did the Hardly Normal people even know to tell customers that iTunes can convert unprotected WMAs?

  4. In music, Apple obviously has a lock on the market, unlike computer/OS X sales. FUD clearly works against Apple in the computer area. However, it’ll never work in the music area, as most shoppers seem to know what they’re doing. The iPod competitors are using tactics that are doomed to fail. Too bad the same can’t be said for computers; FUD seems to be working just fine there. Apple, where are you?

  5. They say they have a greater feature set than the iPod does, but does that really matter when they’re lacking playlist functionality and compatibility with any music player (including WMP – it loads like a hard drive. Sounds great, but sucks when attempting to load music on it), come with earbuds that’re worse than the iPod’s standard earbuds, the radio gets a crap signal from any, even local, radio stations, and just generally does not have as friendly of an interface as the iPods? No, what matters is that their players frequently go on sale (after mail-in-rebate) for far less than the iPod could ever attempt to achieve, and they have a spot where you can add additional Secure Digital cards to expand the memory you have in it (but only if you get the older model).

    I got one of those things for (again, after mail-in-rebate) $30US, because I was sick of carrying around a CD player, do NOT want an iPod Shuffle, and, thanks to outrageous medical bills, have no money to buy even a Nano right now. THAT is why people get them. They’re cheap, and upgradeable. SanDisk needs to get their heads out of their asses and realize that their players are generally crap before they start spewing it out their mouths again.

  6. A huge feature SanDisk will never have is iTMS.

    Message to SanDisk: be happy as distant number 2 stuck with cobby MS DRM and support, or get creative and think of a new product that improves peoples lives.

  7. If you are too cheap to spend an extra 20 bucks on something that you’ll be using daily for about two years (that’s the average lifespan of an iPod for me before I sell them) then you don’t deserve an iPod. Off to creative or Sandisk you go!

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