Forbes: iPod killers that didn’t

“Steve Jobs is not noted for his modesty. So five years ago it was easy to shrug off his boast that ‘listening to music will never be the same again’ when he introduced the iPod–a tiny hard drive with headphones that held up to 2,500 songs and sold for as much as $500,” Rachel Rosmarin writes for Forbes.

Rosmarin writes, “Thing is, Jobs was right on the money this time: 67 million units later, the iPod has indeed changed the way people listen to music. It has also changed much more: Apple Computers has transformed from a struggling PC-maker into the dominant force in consumer electronics. The music industry has been forced to overhaul its business model, while the television and movie industries are getting ready to do the same. And Jobs himself has upgraded his status from business leader to cultural icon.”

Rosmarin writes, “So you can’t blame competitors for trying to get in on the action. None has had much success so far, and several have died trying.”

Rosmarin writes, “But on Nov. 14, Apple’s winning game could begin to change, as Microsoft launches the highest profile MP3 player to hit the market since, well, the iPod. From a hardware perspective, Microsoft’s Zune is nothing special–just a repackaged Toshiba device with the ability to trade songs wirelessly. What’s different about the Zune is its potential to upset the digital audio player ecosystem with a new model that matches Apple’s: A closed network with its own store and new copyright management software. The last time Microsoft took a cue from Apple’s business, it ate up the PC industry.”

Full article here.
High hopes for the joke that is Zune. Microsoft has never matched anything from Apple. When Microsoft copied Apple (albeit upside-down and backwards) with Windows, it ate up the PC market because people weren’t knowledgeable enough to make the informed choice, not because it ever came close to the elegance and superiority of the Mac.

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More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: Tower Records liquidated – October 09, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Dell’s ‘DJ Ditty’ flash-based MP3 player is dead – August 22, 2006
More blood on Apple iTunes Music Store’s play button: MyCokeMusic is dead – June 20, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver gives up on digital media player market – May 23, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Sony’s Walkman Bean is cooked – February 13, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Dell dumps ‘DJ’ hard-drive MP3 player line – February 04, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver pulling out of Europe? – February 01, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Thomson gives up on MP3 player, CE markets – December 12, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: BenQ withdraws from MP3 player markets – November 28, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Olympus halts production of portable digital music players – November 09, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Rio is dead – August 26, 2005
Apple’s iPod has blood on its Click Wheel: Virgin Electronics is dead – March 08, 2005
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has blood on its play button: is dead – March 28, 2004


  1. I was enjoying this article until I got to the bit about Zune. Forbes, which I used to think was a knowledgable publication, shows a shocking lack of understanding of what made the iPod a success. They go on to say that M$ Zune will be an iPod killer for no better reason than they were successful with selling OS for PC’s.

    I think I’ll have to start collecting these predictions so I can bring them back in 12 months and show how wrong these geniuses were. Fortunately, MDN already does that for us!

  2. Spark, very much so. If it was not for IBM already permeating the business and corporate everywhere and just letting Windows in, Bill Gates today would probably be thinking about its 403b plan and whether he could finally afford that dream beach cottage he always longed for.

  3. Rosmarin draws upon history when she says how Microsoft outsold Apple in the computer business, but chooses to ignore history when it comes to iPod killers.

    The simple fact is that there have been countless would-be iPod assassins and yet the iPod is healthier than ever.

    She even admits “From a hardware perspective, Microsoft’s Zune is nothing special” but goes on to suggest that Zune could still topple the iPod.

    You would think that somebody writing for Forbes might also be smart enough to work out that the really important issue is who makes money from MP3 players. We all know that Apple make millions from them and Microsoft are going to make a loss. How much profit have any of the other MP3 player manufacturers made from the business ?

    If she were a bit more insightful, she might have been able to work out that Zune does have the potential to be a killer, but to kill Microsoft. The company is already floundering on a number of fronts and is still losing money on every X-box it sells. How wise is it to pour money into another risky venture that will not make profits ?

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