Will any MP3 player ever catch Apple’s iPod? | iLounge Article


Will any MP3 player ever catch Apple’s iPod?

The announcement a few weeks ago of the first proper cross-platform iPod (the first ever iPod for both Windows and Mac in one) along with the iTunes music store pushed forward the fact that the iPod is the best selling mp3 player in the world.

Market share is the main problem that Apple has right now across the market, apart from in the MP3 sector where they are dominating. “The competition hasn’t even caught up with our first generation iPod, and we’re introducing our third generation, ” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. And he is exactly right, companies like Creative are still clambering around to get a piece of the MP3 action, but so far no one has managed to do it with the style that Apple has.

So what is the key to the success of the iPod? Well there are many reasons, the main one being the great slim line look that it has had since its first beginnings which manages to attract people who haven’t even thought about purchasing an MP3 player before. It is easily the best-designed mp3 player around at this moment. And it is currently the smallest and lightest hard-drive based mp3 player in the world, with the old iPod coming in second there. The size of the iPod is even more back/front pocket friendly than the last one measuring in at 4.1 by 2.4 by 0.62 inches and weighing just 5.6 ounces.

Enough about the looks, what about the features? The new iPod can hold up to 7500 songs on the hard-drive (assuming you purchase the 30 Gigabyte model and record in 128Kbps) with the iPod delivering the highest sound quality from input to output. The iPod supports all of the most popular audio formats like WAV, MP3 and VBR MP3 along with being the only current portable player that can play back digital music in the AAC format, which creates CD-quality audio and smaller file sizes than MP3.

Not only is the iPod the best music player in the world, it also has a number of other secondary features that draw the public into buying it. There are notes, contact lists, alarms, clocks, calendars and 3 games inside the iPod that sync with your computer. I can see the next version of the iPod enhancing these features even more as some of the notes are stored in a basic HTML format, which could lead to some interesting stuff coming out from Apple later on. There is also a built in Microphone that allows you to record 6 seconds of speech, although nothing much has been said about this by Apple, it does lead us to believe that in a later firmware update you may well be able to use the iPod as a dictation device.

Another feature is that you can use the iPod to save your files from your Mac/Windows machines and transfer them around, kind of like a ZIP drive. Finally we now have the compatibility part ? the iPod works on both the Mac and Windows ? great news for everyone, nearly every feature is available for the Windows user, apart from iTunes music store, but even that is likely to be available at the end of the year.

So who are the contenders after Apple’s MP3 crown? Well we have Creative, they have been around on the MP3 scene for some time, but so far the Nomad hasn’t made the headway they would have liked and the introduction of the Nomad Jukebox Zen doesn’t look like it will make much difference either. There has been talk that Microsoft is working on an MP3 player for release next year, but so far that is all there is on it, a rumour.

So it does seem like Apple will dominate the MP3 player market for some time, and rightly so. They have released a product that not only looks great, but it works fantastically well too.

The new iPods are available in three models: a 10GB model for $299 (US), a 15GB model for $399 (US) and a 30GB model for $499 (US). They have also just been released in Europe.

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im still leaning towards the iPod but I have come across a few articles and potential iPod killers… some are very tempting.

MP3 Insider: iPod killers coming soon (2-12-03)

Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen (60GB, USB 2.0)

Philips HDD100

Posted by 2000NB18T in Irvine, CA on May 13, 2003 at 5:16 PM (CDT)


The ipod is undoubtedly the leader, and it’s definitely the best designed, but I think your comments are a bit biased.  Though the Zen market share is much lower, you have to give them credit for packing in a number of features the ipod does not have for a lower cost.  True, it’s ugly and big, but arguably functionality has far surpassed the ipod. 

The ipod itself has a ways to go.  There are numerous reports of bugs in this new release (resets, clicks, etc.), and it’s just not well-integrated with the pc (no charging while syncing, incompatible firewire cards, MMJB).  I think it’s too early too call it an insurmountable lead.

Posted by Albert in Irvine, CA on May 13, 2003 at 6:43 PM (CDT)


Hey Albert,
There are incompatible card problems for every pc device and very very few third party devices are “well” integrated with the pc because there are too many hands in the cookie jar!

I work with both pc’s and macs all the live long day, and Macs rule! It took me 10 minutes the first time I ever used a Mac to see how infinitely better they are and to switch. I only know one person who’s ever used a mac that likes windows better and I think he has mental probs.

P.S. The iPod does have an insurmountable lead, because despite the pitful way that pc’s work with iPods (and most other third party devices), Windows users are buying them up like HOT CAKES! Which is great for me since I own stock in Apple!!!!!! YEEEEEE HAWWW!!!!!!

I own the very very first model iPod and have used it hard every day for about a year and a half now and it ROCKS HARD! Every single day! I’ve had to reset it 5 times in all the time I’ve owned it. Not too shabby I think.

Like the new version, mine had some bugs when it was brand new, however Apple listens to its end users and has released very well targeted software updates that have eliminated all the probs. This will likely happen with the new one too.

This is coming from a guy who thinks the Zen is kinda cool. But c’mon man! It’s not even close! How can you say that an mp3 player that’s Ugly and Big could have better functionality than a small elegant one that’s easy as hell to operate?

P.P.S. How many times did your windows XP machine tell you that new security updates for this or that had been downloaded to your PC and were ready to be installed?

Posted by sillycar in Irvine, CA on May 13, 2003 at 7:03 PM (CDT)



Having just purchased one of the new iPods I haven’t had a single problem with connecting/compatibility with my PC.  The iPod definitely charges while I’m sync-ed up, I imagine it doesn’t for some because they are using a 4-pin FW connection and thus their fire-wire ports are not powered (and therefore cannot charge).  Also, while I dislike MMJB as a product it’s been perfect to use with the iPod, not problems whatsoever.

Sillycar, ugh ... why bring a stupid Windows v Apple debate in when you’re commenting on mp3 players.  I understand how proud you are of your Mac, but to make broad generalisations such as:

“I only know one person who’s ever used a mac that likes windows better and I think he has mental probs.”

... is totally ridiculous, I will admit that the iPod is better as a whole package than any other mp3 player I’ve dealt with.


Posted by Max in Irvine, CA on May 14, 2003 at 9:25 PM (CDT)


Way before the IPOD there was a 20GB monster called the PJB100 which was clearly marred by poor product placement and became a very techy only device. What boosted it was its ease of use and open source coding. The development front is superb and although production has now stopped the device has a loyal following that keep quiet as it is their little secret. I have now got to the point where I needed to upgrade and though I could just stick a 60GB drive in my PJB and it would still work I have plumped for the new 30GB IPOD. I expect big things. I just wanted to let you know there was a player to match (beat) the Ipod it is just no one knew about it :)

Posted by Robert Perkins in Irvine, CA on May 15, 2003 at 8:29 AM (CDT)



Are you the same Max who spent 4.5 hours trying to sync his new iPod to his pc? Come on now, fess up… I read a post by a Max that said he had all kinds of trouble and was at his wits end.


check out that page to see what I am referring to if it is not you.

Comparing the iPod to other Mp3 players is a lot like comparing Macs to PC’s and the statement I made is not a generalization, it’s a fact. I have never met anyone who’s ever used a mac that liked windows better except one and he may really be crazy!

Yes, I am proud to own a Mac. So much so that I bought stock in the company.
Are you proud of your PC?
Would you buy stock in whichever of the thousands of windows PC manufacturers built your machine?

Posted by sillycar in Irvine, CA on May 15, 2003 at 12:38 PM (CDT)


Clearly anything *can* be beat… but will it? I suspect iPOD will be beat but it will take time since PC centric companies are slow on the draw. That said someone has to come up with a small MP3 player that has WORLD CLASS (read: classy art NOT cheap plastic faux “modern) looks, huge hard drive with FM radio, and WORLD CLASS SOFTWEAR for the PC. Can it be done? Sure… will it? Maybe.

Posted by Dave in Irvine, CA on May 16, 2003 at 1:03 PM (CDT)


Don’t want to start a big comparison debate, but I don’t think the original article was written based on actual experience of using the alternatives.
1. Archos can show photos/videos
2. Zen plays mixed CD tracks gaplessly. Last Ipod couldn’t. Can the new iPod do this?)
3. Jukebox3 has two removable battery slots. 22 hours of play. And much better sound management (not the gimmicky bits, but e.g. the compression for loud environments, such as cars/planes)

I know each of the above players can also be faulted very easily. But it’s important to recognise that for many people the Ipod can be bettered, in fundamental features.
I think the new Ipod is an absolute classic. Beautiful. For me I’d buy one if I knew that point (2) above was fixed.

Posted by RBH in Irvine, CA on May 16, 2003 at 1:53 PM (CDT)



that brings back memories of me in high school saving to get that thing. <tear> but i am a proud owner of the original 5 GB iPod.

Posted by bc in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 4:11 PM (CDT)


For lots of people it is always going to be an issue of price and not quality. Look how many people drive Fords and Chevys and not Mercedes or Lexus…They buy what they can (or are willing to) afford.

Posted by Sabon in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2003 at 3:07 PM (CDT)


Lots of comments here that I will try to respond to. 

Overall, I think we can agree that there are feature on other mp3 devices that we would like to see on the iPod. 

I hope we can also agree that there are a number of bugs and complaints regarding basic operation and reliability of the new docking ipods.  Apple has not addressed these complaints.  They have not addressed historical complaints in a timely manner (old battery issue).

If I had a Mac, and my iPod performed advertised features without any problems, I would be happy.  Now, I have a PC, and since Apple has chosen to sell iPods for PC users, I should expect the high quality and service that Apple is known for.  I should not have to buy a Mac to fulfill the promise of a simple mp3 player.

Yes, I have an docking iPod, and yes, I’m using a PC with it. I have had problems.  The Apple store in Palo Alto has not been helpful, they would not give me an exchange, and I’m not willing to give them a 15% restocking fee for the privilege of renting a buggy product.  According to the Mac Genius, “all new products are ‘quirky’.”

Those frustrations aside (and getting back to the original topic), the iPod is constructed of many standard parts, and eventually, SOMEONE (other than Apple) will get it right.  On the PC front, which is the broader market, Apple is arguably behind Creative in terms of support (fixes, firmware upgrades, openness and responsiveness) and feature set.  Of course, in a portable device, form is just as important, if not more important, than function.  In this respect, Apple is miles ahead.

The point is, they CAN build a big lead here, but they must do so by attracting and pleasing PC users as well as Mac users.

Posted by Albert in Irvine, CA on May 21, 2003 at 1:32 PM (CDT)


Hi Albert!
If you bought your IPOD with an American express that offers a 60 day satisfaction guarantee on everything you buy with the card, you can just dispute the charge and they will take care of the problems. In fact you can go to the store, tell them of the problems and warn them of the dispute if they dont take the bad product back. Otherwise, go ahead and deal with them through your credit card

Posted by Vlad in Irvine, CA on May 24, 2003 at 10:08 PM (CDT)


Actually, the AMEX return program is 90 days. But it’s only good for up to $300.

Posted by Joey J in Irvine, CA on May 25, 2003 at 8:45 AM (CDT)


Albert, you are full of crap. I know of several people that never had a problem exchanging something at the Apple Store. Apple can only do so much to get the iPod to work right on the PC, and the PC isn’t exactly the most stable platform to do the things that Apple is doing. My XP is always doing thigns it ought not be doing, so I know that there is only so much they can do. Stop yoru whining.

Posted by Charles in Irvine, CA on May 25, 2003 at 4:40 PM (CDT)


Well my 30gig monster came this weekend and I have spent the last day and night prepping my music. I decided it was time for a spring clean of my collection and a re-tagging of songs hence it taking so long but have to say how dam quick the firwire is. To think I put up with USB on my PJB 100 :) One prob I did have is that unless you tell XP that you want to remove the IPOD you can lock the device in such a state it needs a reset and re-format.

I am now an official convert to Apple IPOD’s and have become an ISPOD ( Someone that won’t stop going on about their IPOD).

Posted by Robert Perkins in Irvine, CA on May 25, 2003 at 4:52 PM (CDT)


I have had so many problems with my new 30GB iPod in XP that I decided I can’t wait for iTunes for Windows. I’m going to buy a G4 eMac just so I can manage my iPod better.

It’s not XP’s fault, in my opinion. Other companies have few problems making FireWire peripherals for the Windows platform that work on all machines. Apple is just spoiled by previously only having to deal with its own hardware.

It’s much easier to be innovative and stable when you CREATE the standard and no one else can use it.

Windows is just an MS-DOS program and has to run on thousands of different computers configurations from different companies. It’s amazing it works at all.

Posted by Joey J in Irvine, CA on May 26, 2003 at 7:57 AM (CDT)


Joey J,

Thanks for your intelligent discourse. 

You’re right.  I’ve never had problems with my iPod, and I was able to get an exchange with no problems at the Apple store.  I just like to make up these problems and create outlandish stories for people to respond to.  I have nothing better to do than to waste my time troubleshooting an iPod with no problems, sitting at the Apple store to waste the Genius’ time, and discuss it in this forum.  Oh yeah, all of those people in the Apple forum and the iPodlounge forum are just full of crap too. 

Oh, so there’s only so much Apple can do with XP, huh?  I guess every other peripheral on the PC must be just as problematic.  Maybe my digital camera won’t work.  Maybe my camcorder will lock up.  Maybe this keyboard will suddenly fail and cause me to have to realsjdf;lsajdlfsadjflsadjflsadfldsjfldsflasdjf;lsadf;lsahfdsahfssadkfhjkfkjfkfkkfkhxjygsgd

Posted by Albert in Irvine, CA on May 26, 2003 at 4:04 PM (CDT)


Albert, it was me saying that your making up the Apple Store thing. You probably have nothing better to do with your time, or maybe your one of the tempermental affeminate wusses that go nuts, and fly off the handle when every little thing goes their way, so to get the company back for your little temper tantrum, you make up all kinds of garbage about the problem to get attention, and some level of sympathy. As for XP, XP is very very tempermental. I have done multi-GB file transfers to other computers from XP, only to have it crash right in the middle of the transfer. I have had XP lock up, and when it started back up, it didn’t recognize the keyboard, and only the mouse, so I had to restart the keyboard, then uninstall the computer, restart the computer once again with the keyboard connected, in hopes that it will recognize it. I also know SEVERAL people that have had problems with XP REFUSING to delete files on a USB Harddrive, because something was corrupt in one of the files. We ended up having to connect the drive to a Mac to get it to format into FAT, then hooked it back up to the PC. Should I continue little Alberto? How about Microsoft’s claim that XP and 2000’s stability issues are all related to driver support? Wow, this is interesting considering Linux and BSD are running all the same Video Cards, and Sound Cards and ETC with a lot of the drivers written by people in the open source community, not even the manufactorer, and some how Linux is still very stable especially in comparison to the pile of garbage that is XP. What about the 30,000 KNOWN bugs that were in 2000 when it shipped? I will continue this in my next comment

Posted by Charles in Irvine, CA on May 26, 2003 at 4:28 PM (CDT)


I guess you just have all the answers don’t you? You must be the magic 8 Ball of the internet. Tell me, if I turn you upside down and shake you, will you tell me when XP or any other Windows OS will have a fix for the dreaded Buffer Overflow problem that they have been fixing over and over again for years now? Or maybe I have actually used XP, and OS X, as well as having beta tested XP not from the stupid public release, but as a beta tester, and did the same with 2000. I doubt there is much you can educate me on, but telling me that XP handles everything perfectly is a joke. Telling me you had all this crap happen to you at the Apple Store is a lie. I could only see that happening if there was any sign of abuse, which wouldn’t surprise me either from someone so tempermental. But thanks for your time, and I applaud your ability to be able to tell who said what on this website, your logic skills are astounding. In behalf of ever Mac User, and I, let me congratulate you in proving once again, that Mac Users are brighter.

Posted by Charles in Irvine, CA on May 26, 2003 at 4:28 PM (CDT)


Albert can’t even figure out that the byline in this forum comes AFTER the message, not before it.

Posted by Joey J in Irvine, CA on May 27, 2003 at 9:20 AM (CDT)

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