Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Price Point for an iPod Killer

The media has been hoping for an iPod killer roughly since 2004.

It seems as though the phrase "iPod Killer" has changed in use over time. At first, it was reserved for players from large corporations, upcoming launches from groups like Microsoft or Sony. Then it was used for players with astounding arrays of features, like the iRiver products. Now it's used for portable players that are incredibly inexpensive. (The ICOO V616 player is a shuffle replacement for only $15.)

This reflects two realizations. First, large corporations cannot predictively make competitive products. Second, there are already many feature rich players out there, but Apple's dominance of personal media players is unassailable. How could another media player take over, perhaps only if it were free, or nearly so?

Maybe the real iPod killer will be the emerging consumer class in China, who might prefer goods from ICOO over Sony, partially due to expense, perhaps more out of a preference for local design.

In related news, there's a new shuffle coming from Apple, this one with text-to-speech controls which can read the name of your current track to you. I've been wanting a feature like that for a while. One major drawback: these controls only work with Apple's earbuds, which fall out of many people's ears under any light jostling.

*There are over 200,000 results when searching for "ipod killer", so my analysis of trends in the use of the phrase is fairly speculative.