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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

41

One can visit the local computer bookstore and pick up a iPod hacking book and thus turn their iPod into a machine that can do many things that a regular computer is capable of.  The beauty is in what is always the beauty of an Apple product: a UI that works.

By Creative claimning that their player is more powerful by adding a few features, they are trading off usability for flexibility.  This is a normal part of product design.  Apple has chosen usability, and in turn, have a player that stays consistent and does exactly the job it is intended to do. 

The majority of people who have an iPod couldnt care less about FM radio and WMV formats. They want a player that does its job with no problems.

By the Zen player leaning towards the model of flexibility, it will be a “Jack of all trades, master of none”.  That flexibiliity results in less efficiency.  Hence the more expensive player, thicker, less efficient, longer development time (if its true that they come up with these ideas first, whcih i doubt)

That patent about heiarchy?  Please.  They may have won, but the appeal will throw that out of court.  I remember in the 90’s, a large telecom company once tried to claim intellectual rights to tab-based web navigation.  Obviosly, that one didnt last long.

To wrap up my rant, Apple doesnt necessarilly invent a new idea, but they are masters at perfecting it.  Thats the main reason why the iPod is so successful….it works.

If the Zen player was truly a good player, these lawsuits would not be needed.

Posted by a UI guy on December 8, 2005 at 4:40 PM (PDT)

42

The battery life for the audio is 11 hours long. Tell me thats great battery life. The battery only last longer on video which is 4 hours. Bottem line is that creative could have done better in looks instead of ripping off apple designs. I know the designs are limited for daps but still.

Posted by Macromedia on December 8, 2005 at 6:24 PM (PDT)

43

Here why the Creative video part of the player is VASTLY SUPERIOR TO APPLE:

DivX-XviD support.

That is all.

“If the Zen player was truly a good player, these lawsuits would not be needed.”

If Apple was truly a great company, they wouldn’t sue their fans and customers left and right.

See how spurious that logic is?

Posted by stark23x on December 8, 2005 at 6:34 PM (PDT)

44

in response to stark23x:

I’ve never been sued by apple.  Left or right. I dont think you have either, or anyone reading this article. 

If youre referring to the lawsuits agains sites like ThinkSecret, any company, including Creative, would do the same thing. Theres a form called a Non-disclosure Agreement that has to be signed by employees, and when that agreement is broken, legal departments in _any_ company get to work to track down the information leak.

back to the subject:

DivX support doesnt make a product ‘vastly superior’.  It’s just another feature that any bonehead company can add to their generic media players to try to make them sell better. 

Apple knows their demographic, and are sticking with it.  Apparently Creative doesn’t, as they have to continue to add these hit-or-miss technologies in the hopes of getting any leftover consumers they can.

Creative used to be a great company as well, but they’ve left innovation to go with aquisition and following the leader. It’s too bad.

Posted by a UI guy on December 8, 2005 at 7:40 PM (PDT)

45

Creative excutive:
Any idea how do we compete with the sales of apple’s ipod?!!

Creative design team:
We make one just like it!

Creative excutive:
Ah!! What an innovative idea! Good job everyone!

Posted by Ipodnized on December 8, 2005 at 7:49 PM (PDT)

46

They don’t exactly live up to the “creative” in Creative, do they?

Posted by iSlunk on December 8, 2005 at 8:04 PM (PDT)

47

Hey Creative: no AAC support = no sale!

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on December 8, 2005 at 9:09 PM (PDT)

48

It seems to be missing one major thing…it’s not an iPod. I hate Creative, they are unoriginal and seem to be very Sony like to the public, aka spit on you and install rootkits on your computer. Apple won my heart with the iPod, I can’t go back. I hope this fails, but at least Apple has to keep on their toes.

Posted by PimpyMicPimp on December 8, 2005 at 9:34 PM (PDT)

49

Quite right, Unit, these Are just things - and we should pay more attention to issues Aids in Africa, Asia etc. (That said, I had an iRiver last year and happily dumped it for iPod - no regrets at all!).

With my iPod video purchase next month I’m going to donate $100 to Aids in Africa, instead of buying those portable speakers I want. I hope I will be able to give more later.

Posted by mook on December 8, 2005 at 10:19 PM (PDT)

50

“Hey Creative: no AAC support = no sale!”

Because, hey, everybody else has it, right?

AAC support is, in the grand scheme of things, less relevant than Musepak or Ape Audio support. Since Apple isn’t about to licence their Fairplay DRM, the only way AAC support becomes an issue is if you are actually obstinate enough to encode to AAC and think you will be able to migrate to other manufacturer’s DAPs.

Since I don’t actually believe that anybody who is actually open to the possibility of switching DAP brands between upgrades is encoding to AAC, I have to assume this “taunt” is just more vacuous zealotry for Apple.

On paper, this product looks very good, certainly the equal or better of the iPod. Then again, the Zen micro beat the mini upside and down on paper as well but the final product wasn’t quite up to the task, particularly once the 2Gs came out shortly after its release. Creative needs to make sure the software side of things is as good as better than iTunes, or at least partner with someone like Yahoo to both improve the flexibility of their music engine and compatibility with their players. Hopefully this will actually be real competition instead of another well featured product that has too many rough edges in the final exam.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on December 8, 2005 at 10:20 PM (PDT)

51

redsoxnation: The same could be said for you. Like you’re some insider who has intimate knowledge of when Creative came up with their so-called patent. Number One, Creative does not have a patent. What they have is a vague description of a vague concept. Their so-called patent is not specific enough, and anyone who thinks that it is is definitely an empty-headed #####.

Posted by Jack on December 8, 2005 at 11:01 PM (PDT)

52

The fanboys are sure out in force on this one, eh?

Posted by stark23x on December 8, 2005 at 11:28 PM (PDT)

53

I don’t agree that the iPod’s UI is as wonderful as people are making out. The new 5G is capable of a UI that is much closer to the iTunes UI on the computer; so why are we still stuck with text-only menus? Let Creative have their dull menu system. Apple should upgrade the iPod to look more like iTunes. (Although the patent appears to be so vague, perhaps even iTunes itself, transferred onto a DAP, would violate it?)

Posted by Magic Rabbits in Aberdeen, Scotland on December 9, 2005 at 2:36 AM (PDT)

54

I can’t believe the nerve of Creative’s CEO. He defends their company’s UI patent ...while unveiling a hardware design that is a blatant rip-off of their competitor’s! What a chump!

Posted by john alc on December 9, 2005 at 4:52 AM (PDT)

55

Who was one of the fore-runners of mp3 players?  Creative.
Who’s business has most always been digital sound and music technology?  Creative.
How many online music stores can you choose from with Apple?  One.
With Creative?  All of them BUT one.
Gee, I think I’ll take the player that offers more choice and that also comes from a company who’s main business has been sound technology.

Posted by me on December 9, 2005 at 5:29 AM (PDT)

56

Yeah right ... main business has been sound technology. The buggiest drivers for any soundcard availabe in 5 galaxies, bad resampling cards, expensive products, no support for old products, the worst marketing with ridiculous claims (SNR and Crystalizer anyone ?) releasing a GUI that is a COPY of o product already in the market ? Don’t matter if they copyrighted it before ... they never released something with it. A huge thick player .

Go ahead .... take that.

Posted by not me on December 9, 2005 at 5:55 AM (PDT)

57

I read in a book that when one commits himself (for example buying an MP3 player) he will then support his purchase, even if the ‘opposing’ player may be better.

I dont know which player is better.

I have an iPod 5th Generation, so I must admit that I will have a natural tendency to gravitate towards defending the iPod, since I am now ‘committed’ to it.

I still think the Creative looks like a really fine player, and I like the internal radio and voice recorder! 

I however think the iPod is much slicker, sexier, and thinner of course! 

I am also annoyed that the Creative took a copy cat approach.

My conclusions?  I think they are both magnificent players, and I look forward to a head - to - head match between the two.

May the best player win!

Robert

Posted by Robert on December 9, 2005 at 6:09 AM (PDT)

58

Er, the best player has already won, Sherlock!  If you’re still not sure about that, check the market share.

Posted by The Raven on December 9, 2005 at 6:30 AM (PDT)

59

So, let’s see, it’s not OK for the iPod to utilize a navigational system that has been available for years on computer operating systems and other “portable media devices”, but it is just fine for Creative to copy (as closely as their inept design team can) the design of the world’s most popular “media device”?!

Posted by The Raven on December 9, 2005 at 6:37 AM (PDT)

60

APPLE DID NOT VIOLATE ANY PATENT!!!! NOT AT ALL!!! IT’S JUST COMMON SENSE THAT YOU NAVIGATE YOUR MUSIC BY ARTISTS, ALBUMS, ETC. BUT WHAT CREATIVE COPIED FROM APPLE IS JUST TOO MUCH FOR ME TO BEAR. THEY COPIED THE BATTERY ICON ON THE TOP RIGHT HAND CORNER (IF THEY HAD IT THERE BUT LOOKING DIFFERENT I WOULDN’T COMMENT, BUT THE BATTERY ICON LOOKS JUST THE SAME!!!) CANT THEY JUST STICK TO THEIR OLD BATTERY ICONS THAT HAVE RECTANGULAR BLOCKS? THEY ALSO TOOK THE COLOR SCHEME FROM THE IPOD! THE BLUE AND WHITE INTERFACE. AND THE GRAY BAR AT THE TOP, CANT THEY JUST MAKE THEIR OWN? THE PHOTO THUMBNAIL VIEWING IS ALSO VERY SIMILAR TO THE IPOD’S. DAMN CREATIVE!!! THEIR COMPANY NAME IS SUCH A BIG FAT IRONY!!! SCREW THEM!!!

IF CREATIVE SUES APPLE OVER THE GUI, THEN APPLE CAN SUE THEM FOR THE PHOTO VIEWING INTERFACE!!!

ALL IM TALKIN BOUT IS THE INTERFACE, NOT THE PHYSICAL LOOKS. IT’S UGLY ENOUGH FOR ME NOT TO TALK ABOUT IT!!!

Posted by hoho on December 9, 2005 at 6:59 AM (PDT)

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