Analyst: iPod to continue to dominate despite new rivals

The latest and greatest MP3 players shown at this week’s CES event in Las Vegas are unlikely to make a dent in the iPod’s market share, according to one Wall Street analyst.

In a research note sent to iLounge, Piper Jaffray senior snalyst Gene Munster details his view of what he saw. “Yesterday we attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and examined the newest MP3 players from various manufacturers. While we found that there are several more legitimate devices out now vs. what we saw at last year’s CES,” Munster notes, “we still believe Apple has the market beat in: 1) form factor, 2) intuitive user interface, and 3) cool factor. We expect the iPod will continue to dominate the market in 2006.”
From Munster’s report:

Sony: At CES, Sony was showing its NW-A1000 and NW-A3000 devices in the U.S. for the first time. We continue to be shocked at how Sony’s devices miss the mark despite the resources that are being put into creating a competitive product. The devices feat ure a non-color OELD display that cannot display photos or video and the navigation of the device is not user friendly. The two devices shown (6GB and 20GB) do not yet have a U.S ship date or pricing.

Sandisk: Released a new lineup of its Sansa MP3 players (e250, e260, and e270). The devices have capacities of 2GB, 4GB, and 6GB, with the 2GB and 4GB priced in line with the iPod nano at $199 and $249. These devices are more intuitive than many other devices we tested and each includes some nice extra features like FM radio and microSD expansion slot.

iriver: iriver did not introduce any new devices at CES, but was present and showing the U10 series devices. These devices have a very easy and intuitive user interface, with a “click screen” for navigation. Unfortunately, the devices have relatively smaller capacities at 512MB and 1GB, but with fairly high price points: $199 (512MB) and $249 (1GB).

Creative: Surprisingly, Creative did not have any new MP3 player announcements and was showing the previously released Zen Micro and Zen Vision:M at the show. We believe Creative’s devices are well made and user friendly, but given the company has had limited relative traction in the market, we would expect to see some form factor changes by next year’s CES.

Samsung: At CES, Samsung introduced an iPod nano competitor with the same capacity and pricing as the 2GB and 4GB nano. The Samsung YP-Z5 is expected to be available commercially in Feb-06. The device is slim like a nano, but has a larger screen and better battery life; that said, the nano is easier to navigate.

Toshiba: Expected to be released in March, Toshiba’s new S30 and S60 are the same capacity and price as Apple’s 30GB and 60GB iPods. These players have better battery life, but a smaller screen than the iPod. We expect to hear more from Toshiba in this space in the coming year.

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