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Creative debuts iPod lookalike; Will ‘aggressively pursue’ patent

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Thursday, December 8, 2005
News Categories: iPod

imageCreative Technology today introduced a 30GB digital media device that bears a striking resemblance to Apple’s new video iPod. The Zen Vision:M, which features a 2.5-inch color screen and video playback support, appears to lift several styling and interface details from the new video iPod. The $330 device also features support for music subscription services, an FM radio and a built-in mic for recording. The Zen Vision:M will be available in black, white, blue, green or pink this month.

Sim Wong Hoo, the outspoken CEO of Creative, took a swipe at the iPod in the company’s press release for the device. “When people see the Zen Vision:M, they tell us it’s incredibly cool,” he said. “We designed the Zen Vision:M with its mesmerizing 262,144 color screen to display four times the color of the 30GB iPod that plays video, and to provide twice the battery life for video playback. Plus, we offer people the freedom to choose their video in a variety of different formats, and to get subscription music or download tracks from a number of different sites to their player.”

While Creative appears to be taking cues from the iPod design, it seems Apple will be the one soon facing a legal threat. At the launch of the new device, the Creative CEO told the BBC that he plans to “pursue aggressively” a US patent it owns relating to music navigation on digital players. “We will pursue all manufacturers that use the same navigation system,” he said. “This is something we will pursue aggressively. Hopefully this will be friendly, but people have to respect intellectual property.”

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Comments

21

*applauding unit*

I agree. It’s just “a thing.”  In the grand scheme of things, it is really not that important.  As for the device itself. People will buy what they want.  I am happy with iPods.  Maybe other will be happy with creative.  Creative having that device does not affect my enjoyment of my iPods, nor does it affect yours.  smile

Life’s too short.

Posted by Jing in USA/Singapore on December 8, 2005 at 11:03 AM (PDT)

22

What creative doesn’t understand is that copying the look of a sucessful product makes your own product look cheap.

Remember when Air Jordan’s were really popular and places like Pay Less Shoes had cheap imitations.  Any kid could tell that, “Hey, these aren’t Jordans!  I want Jordans!”  It’s the same with the iPod.  There’s no substitute for the real thing.

Posted by Joe Bob on December 8, 2005 at 11:10 AM (PDT)

23

*nods to Jing* cheers

And well said - it certainly shouldn’t affect anyone’s enjoyment of the DAP of their choice. At least it shouldn’t if they have things in perspective. I enjoy my nano and my Iaudio M3 but like all of the consumer items in my life they don’t define who I am as a person, and they’re far from important in the broader scheme of things.

By all means people, debate the relative merits of the ipod and the vision:M, it’s entirely legitimate to debate whether and to what degree Creative has been influenced or outright copied the ipod design aesthetic (I see it as an acknowledgement that Creative takes Apple VERY seriously) but please avoid the vitriol.

As Jing said, life’s too short.

Posted by unit on December 8, 2005 at 11:15 AM (PDT)

24

Clearly a blatant taunt at Apple.

You can see Creative now, all standing there shouting “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!”

Posted by tecstar on December 8, 2005 at 11:25 AM (PDT)

25

tecstar, you probably right there. It might a deliberately provocative move by Creative. I suspected they anticipated the feature set of the 5g ipod and attempted to one-up with more features and file support. In a way, to out ipod the ipod. That would explain why the consciously decided on the ipod-aesthetic. They want the consumer to pick up both - to say ít looks like an ipod (i still think the 5g look better) but look at all the additional features. 

The one thing they didn’t anticipate i suspect is the slimness of the current generation ipod. That is that while they anticipated it’s general look and featureset in their game of oneupmanship, the thickness wasn’t anticipated. This could well be a deciding factor for them

IT will be telling indeed whether the provocative move pays off for Creative, or backfires. In this regard however, I guess they’re living up to their name.

Anyway, it makes the topic of DAP’s just that little more interesting and it certainly has people talking unlike say this nondescript random dap…

http://www.dapreview.net/comment.php?comment.news.2579

Posted by unit on December 8, 2005 at 11:38 AM (PDT)

26

Come on, now - it’s a rounded box with a screen and UI.  Hardly unique to Creative OR Apple.  Now if it had a chrome back, we might have something to talk about…

Posted by Grant on December 8, 2005 at 12:06 PM (PDT)

27

Q: Why do all screw drivers generally look the same?

A: Because form follows function and over thousands of years of refinment we finally settled on the general design.

This is what is currently happening with portable media devices.  We have this class of consumer elctronics which did not exist previously.  Everyone rushed to produce their version and overtime we are seeing the best form factor start to emerge.  Apple borrows some stuff and invents/improves other things.  Company X borrows some of apples and invents/improves things until finally we (collectivly) settle on the best form that is a compromise of all the possibilites.  So we end up with devices starting to look similiar because they have the same function.  Take a look around cars, telephones, and screwdrivers all look alike because their form fits the function and has been refined.  Would anyone say that Ford copied Nissan beacuse the interior layout looks the same. 

That said I think apple has gotten to the best form for function first.  Given this and how quickly consumer products can be designed and brought to market people will always initally say hey this guy copied or that guy stole that.  Over time, these disscuassions all go away.  The question is how soon…..

Posted by AngryChimp on December 8, 2005 at 12:16 PM (PDT)

28

“When people see the Zen Vision:M, they tell us it’s incredibly cool,?
That’s because the only people you show it to are Toadying Yes-Men.

Posted by Daniel Woods on December 8, 2005 at 12:35 PM (PDT)

29

...C’mon, now we have people in uproar over iPod rip-offs. You people kill me. Exactly what new shape were you thinking of for an mp3 player? Triangular? A perfect sparp edged square? Maybe a large cube? There is only one shape you can make something that will fit in the pocket with ease…and this is it. No one is ripping anyone off, the options are just very limited. What shape is your pocket? Yes it looks alot like an iPod but is that not testiment to Apple getting the shaping just right first time? What would you have Creative do? If it’s such a simple task get a pencil and a sheet of paper and think of a shape that would fit snug in your pocket…guess what it’ll look like 9 out of ten times. Now think hard where you would position the screen…I’ll bet you everything you own it would be where MOST mp3 players put it. Now position your controls, whatever system you use. Under the screen is it? Huh, what a coincidence!
the only thing for sure that is copying the iPod is the colouring. The white, the blue glow. But to compare to something like for instance shoe designs etc where there are infinite variations you can make is unfair. The important part of any hardware is whats inside. Until new technology (smaller longer running batteries, hard drive size/shape, flash memory capacity, screens etc) change you can’t expect more than this basic (and it is very basic) shape to be what the consumer wants. With the first iPod the people let it be known they didn’t want their players to be that bland grey plastic Sony used for years…now you want ALL other companies to ignore this market shift in-case they are accused of being rip-off artists? You can’t patent a colour. The only difference between the first ipod and a Creative Zen Xtra is Apple put the wheel on the fron and took away all the buttons for ease of use. Bravo Apple. But no one has “ripped” off that most unique thing so your angry at a shape? Give it a rest.

Posted by Tes on December 8, 2005 at 1:22 PM (PDT)

30

Does anybody else see the irony that this blatant G5 Ipod knockoff is from a company called “Creative”?

Posted by ACoBildo on December 8, 2005 at 1:52 PM (PDT)

31

Honestly, I’m glad Creative is doing this. It will make Apple step up their game even more.

Posted by writer on December 8, 2005 at 2:08 PM (PDT)

32

I agree with Tes & others on the “perfect” shape. But the ripping isn’t really happening on that departement. I mean, a lot of websites have the long vertical centered column with content, but aren’t blind copy’s of eachother. While I’ve seen rips of websites in the strangest ways. It’s in the little details that give the device its own “personality” like the GUI (patented or not, the little > on the selectionbar, the green battery, the grey bar on top are almost exact copy’s of the ipod’s GUI).

Personally I couldn’t care less about the whole thing, im happy with my ipod so whatever.

I just think its a sign of weakness from creative. They’ve just made a statement: “hey, we’re not creative at all”
Every major company has it’s own filosophy about how they want to represent themselves in the market. EG: Philips: “sense & simplicity”
With a name like “Creative Labs” it’s pretty obvious how they want to profile themself and with a product like this they just spat on their own reputation.
I think they shot themselves in their own foot with this DAP.

Posted by vim on December 8, 2005 at 2:18 PM (PDT)

33

So Creative makes their first blatant ripoff of the iPod, and then decides to continue their quest to prove that they’re the original? DOESNOTCOMPUTE

Posted by workse on December 8, 2005 at 2:35 PM (PDT)

34

Is this a joke? ‘Creative’ is suing Apple for not respecting intellectual property? The irony here is annihilating.


As for the thing itself, it is, quite frankly, ugly. I do not think that all mp3 players other than iPods are ugly; it is just that this one obviously tried so hard to copy the Ipod, and the only result is that it doesn’t have a unipue look; only the look of something that is inferior to an iPod. Say what you will about Apple, they are innovative and creative, and Creative is not. The extra features on this (assuming they aren’t all glitched up) are canceled out in my mind by the fact that Creative only copies from others.

Posted by Bradley on December 8, 2005 at 2:37 PM (PDT)

35

It seems that this “knock-off” has better features than the original.

I really couldn’t care less about who invented the wheel first (pun intended :p).  When it comes to my choice of a portable media player I will consider the functionality first, usability second, price tag third and aesthetics last.

Functionally, the new Zen beats iPod 5g on almost every count: longer-lasting battery, better media format support, built-in radio, mike and a/v output.

In terms of usability there seems to not be much difference in the navigation part, which is where the entire debate originated.  iTunes Vs. MediaSource and ZEN explorer is a toss-up: both have their pros and cons.

The “vanilla” 30gig iPod is $30 cheaper, but throw in all the extra accessories you’d need to buy in order to achieve the same functionality that’s built into the Vision:M (FM tuner, microphone, dock) and Creative comes out to be a better bargain by a large margin (~$100).

Aesthetically the Vision:M is only thicker than the 30gig 5g iPod by 0.27 of an inch (Zen’s 0.7” Vs. iPod’s 0.43”), but for less than a third of an inch you are getting twice the battery life, an FM tuner and a microphone.

Bottom line is, we have choice, and that is always a Good Thing.  And even if you still think that the iPod is a better device, there is nothing like some healthy competition to push Apple to make it even better.


P.S.  I’m not a Creative fanboi.  I love my 3gen 20gig iPod to death and think it’s the best built iPod.  However, this doesn’t prevent me from looking at other products without bias and with an analytical approach.

Posted by chahk on December 8, 2005 at 3:22 PM (PDT)

36

There are no real “not-fanboys” for any team. iPpod users are Apple fanboys… Creative users are “creative fanboys” and so on and so forth. The only neutral people are those who don’t use mp3 players and they don’t give a hoot. We argue and criticise each other and these companies continue to copy each other since every new idea has been had already… and this isn’t true only in this industry. Every other part of our world is at the same standstill. You people realise that all we’ve done in the past 10 years is brute-force advance every old idea we’ve had in the 90’s?
We really shouldn’t get mad at Creative for copying from Apple or at Apple for copying from Creative. We should ask them both:“Why aren’t you doing something new?” iRiver had a somewhat better idea with the U10. Why not evolve that one? (even though it is simply applying pda design to an mp3 player, but still…)

Posted by Just me on December 8, 2005 at 3:22 PM (PDT)

37

Ok.. it a mirrow of the iPod Video…
But.. for me the iPod 5G they must to put some accesories like the mic and Radio in the same iPod and the remoble bateries.. like Creative Did… for me.. iPod 5G is not the 5G iPod just is the same 4G but this reproduce only one format of video.. and creative have 5 format…
I think Job is going to a bad path…
INTEL and “5G” iPod…

Posted by Nico_H on December 8, 2005 at 3:23 PM (PDT)

38

Does anyone even care about having a radio and a voice recorder on their mp3 player because almost all mobile phones already have them.
So, wouldn’t you rather have a smaller mp3 player than a fat one with features that you are never going to use?

Posted by tom on December 8, 2005 at 4:03 PM (PDT)

39

Like Joe Bob said, people will see it, or recieve it for a gift, when the asked for the iPod and be angered, because it is NOT an iPod. It doesn’t really matter. This is not going to suceed. Creative always tries to copy the iPod, and yet they always fail. If I’m not mistaken, I thought Creative recently released a statement saying they are going to stop making DAPs and focus more on sound cards? Oh well. This will fail, and even if it does somewhat “well”, it will be irrelevant(sp) as soon as Steve has something new to debut. Besides, as many have said before me, look what Apple has: iTunes… HBO, NBC, ABC… Disney, Music Videos, Music, all at a low price. Apple is amazing. You can’t beat perfection. So, to sum my views up, come on Creative, keep trying. This just amuses me. I have faith in Apple. If people chose the Creative over the iPod, woo hoo. It won’t overthrow the iPods popularity and name as a great audio and video player.

Posted by WhereEaglesDare on December 8, 2005 at 4:18 PM (PDT)

40

Desperate for any kind of publicity they can get. Perhaps they should file a patent for perfecting the formula how to be lame.

Posted by NotSoCreative@Korea.com on December 8, 2005 at 4:30 PM (PDT)

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