To beat Apple at the iPod game you need to start with a complete system. The problem with all of the other MP3 players and cell phones on the market today is that they are all missing one of the following key ingredients:
• An intergraded music store to make your purchases. (lacking for most MP3 players)
• An application for your PC to easily manage your music library. (lacking for most cell phones)
• An easy to use, seamlessly intergraded, and well designed player.
The reason iPod sales are so good is because they have built the entire system and made it easy to use. Since Apple has a tremendous lead that means many people have a large investment in their players already. To make existing iPod users switch to a new system would require some radical new functionality users desire. Microsoft is the only possible company that has the clout to compete in Apple’s MP3 playground. So how will MS kill the iPod? To date the list of rumored functions include wireless connectivity as well as a free migration path that allows users to obtain the music they’ve already purchased from Apple.
Wireless downloads alone won’t be the killer function that beats the iPod. Wireless mice and key boards aren’t taking the nation by storm. Yeah they’re nice, but unnecessary. Moreover, you still need to charge your MP3 player. So plugging in isn’t a burden the masses are looking to relieve themselves from. And please don’t write to me about all the people who download songs to their cell phone from a cellular carrier. That function is nice for a few songs but only a fool would pay $3 per song for all of the songs in their entire library. And what about instant wifi purchases? When is the last time you were in Starbucks and heard a song that didn’t make you want to cut off your ears. I don’t know about you but I don’t buy CD’s from Starbucks, or Borders for that matter.
The Migration Path.
This sounds like a good idea, but also a very costly one. I currently have over 13,000 songs in my collection. Granted not all of them were purchased from the ITMS but how will MS know which songs I’ve purchased since I’ve converted all of my music to AAC. Even still it’s not a compelling enough reason. I have already invested in speakers, boom boxes, and other devises that are all designed to work with the iPods dock connector.
No, neither of these options alone or together are going to kill anything.
What I’d like to see is a wireless device that will let neighboring friends listen to what I have stored on my device. Moreover, I’d like the added ability to sell those tracks to my friends if they want a copy. Think about this: What if you could sell music to your friends via a wireless device. You would become the record store and get a small commission or credit toward a future purchase. Man-o-man would that generate sales. Pirates would no longer want to just “share” their files. Moreover, most people would tell more friends about the great new songs they have to sell. One other killer feature that begs to be added is the cell phone option. I for one am sick of carrying around a cell phone, an iPod, a camera, and a blackberry. It’s been a burden of mine since I got my first iPod in 2001. The first company to add cell phone function to the system will quickly become king of the hill. The Motorola ROKR only had 256k of memory. It doesn’t count.
The fastest way for Mr. Softy to kill the iPod is to do what he’s always done in the past. Buy a company that already makes one, stick their Windows Media app on it and court the record labels. Can MS do all that? Can MS do something cool? They did create the X-Box.
What do you think would happen if MS bought Creative?