Will any MP3 player ever catch Apple’s iPod?

Dennis Lloyd
By Dennis Lloyd  - Senior Editor

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.

Dennis Lloyd
By Dennis Lloyd Senior Editor
I'm a passionate, long-time lover of Apple products, and was a civil draftsman and graphic designer before creating the iLounge web site. My prior projects include work for The Los Angeles Times' LATimes.com, and the company Creative Domain, where I developed websites for clients including Columbia Pictures, Disney, Fox Studios, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers. As the Publisher of iLounge, I direct the site's community forums, photo galleries, iPod User Group, and general business affairs, which have grown under my watch to over sixteen million page views every month. I'm happily married with one daughter, one dog (Rocket the Wonderdog), one cat (Ferris), many iPods, iPhones, iPads, and two turntables.