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Creative CEO: iPod shuffle is a joke

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Saturday, January 15, 2005
News Categories: iPod

Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo has offered some harsh words for Apple’s new iPod shuffle.  “Actually, to me it’s a big let-down: we’re expecting a good fight but they’re coming out with something that’s five generations older,” Wong Hoo said. “It’s our first generation MuVo One product feature, without display, just have a (shuffle feature). We had that—that’s a four-year-old product.”

“So I think the whole industry will just laugh at it, because the flash people—it’s worse than the cheapest Chinese player,” he added. “Even the cheap, cheap Chinese brand today has display and has FM. They don’t have this kind of thing, and they expect to come out with a fight; I think it’s a non-starter to begin with.”

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Comments

21

One follow-up to my last post.

People are correct:  the lack of display/feature-approach (or lack thereof) is part of the marketing.

Think about it:  would the new flash iPod get this much press, discussion or debate going if it WAS delivered with a 2 line display? 

Then, it would have been compared to everything else in the market and I’m sure folks would still find plenty to criticize.

The shuffle isn’t for everyone; however, Apple’s done a great job of generating discussion and market awareness.  Shoot, even if a percentage of the population doesn’t buy the shuffle because it doesn’t fit their needs, it certainly might lead them to look at an iPod mini, a Mac mini, an iMac, etc.

I’m sure Steve Jobs & team are having a ball - if for no other reason, the shuffle will be a success for increasing awareness of Apple & its other products.

Posted by Frank (Atlanta) on January 15, 2005 at 7:47 PM (PDT)

22

Good point Frank.

Posted by Kloan in Toronto, ON on January 15, 2005 at 8:12 PM (PDT)

23

If you have a look at Creative’s newest player, the Zen Micro, i would say that that even exceeds Apple’s iPod Mini, with the Zen’s only downfall being no firewire option. But with 1 GB more space and FM built in, AND the fact that it looks good/ technologically advanced means that it is quite an underated little player up against the big guns. As has been said, it’s all about how the products are marketed. eg. how many tv advertisements for other mp3 players have you seen apart from Apple’s line up. I know i havent seen any.

Posted by Matty C in Australia on January 15, 2005 at 9:37 PM (PDT)

24

Exactly. The prime time audience doesn’t know of any other brands, because nobody has ever bothered to consider speaking to them before, Mr Hoo. Thus, you are about to be flattened by 4-year-old tech. Should have thought of a marketing strategy, dude…perhaps you can present this lip service to your board of directors/stockholders after you’ve done your bowing to Steve. Far from a mere trojan horse, the Mac Mini/iPod Shuffle combo will be true “shock and awe” while you silly stupid wankers remain asleep.

Posted by langdonauger on January 15, 2005 at 9:48 PM (PDT)

25

to each his own. obviously creative is gunning for more market share and greater sales/ zan micro is putting up a good fight. and as a fellow singaporean,  creative is indeed a success story from a small country like us. though i dun really fancy creative products (my 1st mp3 player was creative), i am sure he has to sound a little arrogant to sell his products.

Posted by joon on January 15, 2005 at 9:59 PM (PDT)

26

I think the ipod shuffle is intended for people who already own an ipod.  It’ll be great for any exercise activity as it won’t skip as the regular ipod would.  And, in my opinion, the true success of the ipod family is itunes.  It is absolutely the best thing about the ipod.  Spec for spec, the ipod is about the same as some other players.  Itunes is what sperates it from everything else.  In my opinion, ipod, very good.  Itunes, head and shoulders above any other music management system out there.

Posted by McKie on January 15, 2005 at 10:19 PM (PDT)

27

Lets face it. If any other company had come out with the Suffle they’d be laughed at and no one would buy it. The only reason this will see is because Apple slapped the iPod name in front of it. This was just a lazy effort on Apple’s part and to me sulley’s the iPod name.

Posted by Weasel on January 15, 2005 at 10:26 PM (PDT)

28

who does hoo think he is to talk like that!

Posted by podskater on January 15, 2005 at 10:30 PM (PDT)

29

“If any other company had come out with the Shuffle they’d be laughed at and no one would buy it.”

Yeah but laughed at by whom? Maybe by the CES crowd, but not by my mom, my wife, or my kids. Such a thing was never tangible to them before. Now during a commercial break in Survivor, they’ll be faced, for the first time, with the reality that they can have their 20 cd’s on a device smaller than gum. And that’s not funny. That’s extremely cool!

Posted by langdonauger on January 15, 2005 at 10:51 PM (PDT)

30

I don’t get why some people get so excited over FM radio on a player. Talk about old technology. Do people even listen to FM radio anymore?

Posted by jiga in San Diego on January 15, 2005 at 11:21 PM (PDT)

31

I own a 40 gig ipod but I don’t use to work out, it’s a little bulky and I don’t want to drop it, the shuffle will allow me to play the superior AAC format while working out with less worrying about it breaking if I drop it.  I think it will sell because the IPOD is a quality product and it has already established a great reputation.

Posted by pepejoe on January 15, 2005 at 11:26 PM (PDT)

32

Okay.  I can see why you all might want to laugh at it.  Feel like you know better than the guys with the 90% market share, I know.  But in case you don’t follow industry news, the Shuffle is big.  And it’s genius.  The simplicity is its selling point, actually.  Yes, there exist players with more bells and whistles.  My mom doesn’t want bells and whistles.  My mom wants a cute little device that will play her music in her ears while she works out, and that will do so with a minimum of fuss.  To get music on it, she expects that simply plugging it in would fill it with songs.  To play music, she wants to press a button.  If a song comes on she isn’t in the mood for, she wants to be able to skip it.  Thats all she wants.  And that’s why she called me today to say she bought a 1Gb Shuffle, and couldn’t be happier.

And that’s why Merryl Lynch believes Shuffle will capture the Flash market—it’s the same reason that the iPod dominates the HDD market, even though Creative, Rio, and iRiver products are certainly not terrible.  Creative knows what they can put on a player.  They know how to put next year’s technology on this year’s device.  But they’re aiming at the technophile market of five years ago.  Apple knows what people actually want.

And even then, the no-screen is a smart idea.  There are clear, easy decisions to make.  If you want the same thing my mother wanted, you buy a Shuffle.  If you want a cute little player with a screen to hold your medium-sized collection, you buy a Mini.  If you have a serious music collection, you buy a 20Gb or 40Gb, depending on your needs.  If you’re a high-end multimedia addict, you buy a 60Gb Photo.  Apple covers all the bases—no product seriously cannibalizes any other Apple player’s market share.

The Shuffle was a stroke of genius.  And if it’s, say, any time later than 3Q 2005, and you happen across this page, you’ll certainly be in agreement with me.

Posted by patkelly on January 15, 2005 at 11:36 PM (PDT)

33

If this player was branded “Samsung” not one Apple fanboy woudl care.

It’s a crap product.  It will sell becaus idiots buy brand, not features.

Posted by stark23x on January 16, 2005 at 12:13 AM (PDT)

34

pepejoe, you should have a look at the SportsWrap by XtremeMac. I use it when jogging with my 40 GB iPod every day and I am happy with it.

http://www.xtrememac.com/ipodgear/sportwrap.shtml

Posted by Sol in Brisbane, Australia on January 16, 2005 at 12:21 AM (PDT)

35

It’s amazing how judgmental and mean-spirited people are in these discussions—maybe feeling superior is part of the fun?  I plan to buy a Shuffle because 1) 512 MB is enough room for 60+ songs and hours of Audible.com books and radio shows, 2) it’s small, light and durable, 3) I can afford it, and it suits my needs, and most of all, 4) as a Mac user I have no other options if I want to be able to buy from a comprehensive online music store.  If I had a PC, I’d go for an iRiver in a second, but we Mac-users with limited budgets don’t have so many options.  Does that make me an idiot?  (Don’t answer.)

Posted by mnoog in San Francisco, CA on January 16, 2005 at 12:44 AM (PDT)

36

Mr. Ho forgot to mention that the original MuVo was also flaky and prone to a complete collapse.

I thought I wanted a screen, but I have my iPod for that, for the gym etc., and for a sneaker net device, seems okay.

Maybe not so great for audio books, unless your an audio dada-ist ;o)

Posted by Kyle... on January 16, 2005 at 12:46 AM (PDT)

37

I think the Shuffle is a wonderful idea. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s (relatively) cheap. The Creative line looks like and, therefore to the Apple market, is, crap. I like my 20G iPod best when on shuffle, and most recently, before its unveiling, had been using it just as the Shuffle is intended: as a small-capacity, randomized jukebox. It makes listening to fresh music easy and exciting. And you expose yourself to the nooks and crannies of your collection that would otherwise go unnoticed. I am very pleased to see a large-market player further the notion of changing the way we listen to music. I’ll probably get one, despite already owning one of 20/40 times its capacity. I just really like the idea.

Posted by Todd Pitman on January 16, 2005 at 1:45 AM (PDT)

38

Talking about ‘not getting it’...! This guy does not understand marketing, does not understand cutomer ‘irrationalities’ in the purchasing process.

Why he is wrong? Because iPod is the top of ‘cool’ and everybody like to be cool. Apple is about design, making a statement, status - not bits, bytes and technology.

Sorry to say, but MuVo (even the name is leper) is close top of non-cool And that is why Apple once more will make it. The Shuffle will be market leader as soon as the product reach the shelves. Because it is ‘cool’.

The Creative CEO may be right as goes for technology and functionality - but that is simply not the issue here. Very sad that he does not understand! that.

He should go back to his study, read more about psychology, consumer behavior and disregard Electronic Engineering for a while and try to understand, ‘softies’ such as feelings, emotions, notions, individuality, ‘cool’ and even poetry - and maybe even Creative will make it one day. They had the chance with the Nomad, then the Zen (I had them both) but somehow blew it, as Rio did - if anyone remember them - being the first on the market with a mp3 player, only to disappear.

Acceptable technology with ‘cool’ is the winner - always! The challenge is to stay on top with ‘cool’ and this Apple white color fetish is about getting to me…

Posted by Getor on January 16, 2005 at 2:38 AM (PDT)

39

People will buy the shuffle for one of a few reasons, they need a USB drive and it’s not much more then one, they want a music player for cheap and they know/hear Apple makes good quality products as opposed to Brand X Asian Company (which Creative is) and to people like me who own an iPod and want a second for various reasons.

The bulk of the people who buy it will be replacing a Walkman or a Discman type player with no real screen (other than track number on a Discman) and so they won’t miss the screen.  Now you can complain about four year old technology all you want but the fact was the market wasn’t ready for the technology four years ago, Apple’s iPod opened up the market past the point of early adopters (something Creative has also benefited from).  The iPod is still a luxury item and mainly for music / tech people, but the price on the shuffle is such that moms, dads, little brothers / sisters, grandmas and grandpas will be getting into it. 

Companies, and posters, who want to get up on a high horse and shout “it’s old technology” at the people are free to do so.  It’s just not going to stop people from buying it.  I’m pretty sure most of the negative posters were the same ones who said the mini was a terrible idea.

And in fact only time will tell with the shuffle, but as far as I can see it’s a win-win scenario.  Either it sells very well, or it gets people looking at iPods and convinces them to go for one with a screen and thus sells a mini.  Either way it’ll make a serious indent into the flash player market.  Even if it doesn’t do that well Apple isn’t exactly betting the farm on it.

Posted by Jazzlawyer in Kelowna, BC Canada on January 16, 2005 at 4:54 AM (PDT)

40

I have to say I agree with Getor,; I really don’t understand why all of Apple’s competitors keep harping on features/technology/battery life, when it is clear that this isn’t what makes ipods sell.

Ultimately you can have a player that does 10 things an Ipod can’t, but it ain’t going to make you smarter than an Ipod buyer in society’s eyes.

The Ipod has become more than just an MP3 player, it and the devices that share it’s namesake have become fashion icons, and the moment that happens, pumping money into higher technology is only going to help you get more geeks purchasing your product.

I have friends who have purchased the creative Zen touch and a 20 gig iRiver. They may do more than my 20 gig Ipod, but asthetically they’re horrendous.

I really cannot understand why Sim Wong Hoo, or any of Apple’s other competitors cannot see this, and as a Singaporean myself, until he gets his act together, I will not be ashamed to say I bought Apple over the “home grown product”

Posted by Popjunkie in Singapore on January 16, 2005 at 5:07 AM (PDT)

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